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Elaine and Peter’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Location: Tbilisi , Georgia

MapWe have been so lucky with the weather, one hot sunny day after another. The first group to come out here couldn't get up to the high Caucasus as when they reached the mountain pass it was blocked with snow, so,they had no option but to turn back to Tbilisi. What a place to miss.

Today we are on our way down to spend our last two and a half days in the capital city...

But first some factual knowledge about the country .....

How did Georgia get its name?
There is a legend .....the Georgians are very proud of their homeland. Their name for the country is Sakartvello.
On the day that God divided up the lands between the nations, Georgia was late as it had been feasting and drinking. There was no land left other than a small piece of the best that God had left for himself. When asked why they were late, the Georgians answered that they had been toasting God's health and well being. He was so pleased that he gave them this 'paradise'

Originally Georgia was made up of many tribelands. In the 8th century, AD the powerful people of central Georgia were the Karti and as they began to expand , the country was eventually united.

Several generations of families lived together particularly in rural parts.
Marriage was usually between 20 and 23. Generally the men took their wives back to their family home mostly for economic reasons when everyone had to work. The average monthly income today is about the equivalent of 270 euros.
In modern cities today, the young often can afford to move out and rent an appartment.

This is still a patriarchal society. Although men acknowledge that they are proud of women and that it was a woman, St Mary who founded Christianity here, there is still a male dominance. The leader of the house is a male no matter how well educated the women may be. They are only accomplished once they are married and have produced children.

There is a negative attitude to gay people and it is taboo to speak of them because of religion.

As for the economy.....
In soviet times, Georgia was well off because of agriculture and industry.
Since independence, war lords plundered and controlled the country between 1991 and 1992. The economy collapsed and only began to revive after 2003 when the BP pipeline brought international investment.

There is a free trade movement with Europe but because of the strict regulations, exporting goods is very difficult.

There is an insurance policy but it only covers the basic and people have to pay for examinations and operations. At 60 for women and 65 for men, there is a basic government pension.
Life expectancy is 75-76.

Theebis a free school education from 6 to -8. University entrance is by exam and has to be paid for.
English is taught from grade 1 with Russian from grade 5. This is slowly changing since the current president is pro Russian and is encouraging trade with Russia, so businesses are seeking to employ Russian speaking individuals.
This is encouraging an increased number of Russian tourists much to the dislike of the people.

Military service..
This is compulsory for men for one year.

And onto our day....
Two main stops...
The first at the large semi circular Friendship Memorial erected on the side of the mountain to show Georgia and Russia as one nation after the Treaty. However the Russians didn't keep to their side of the bargain so it was two hundred years of occupation and the Georgians refer to it as the Occupation Memorial.
It is in a stunning place overlooking the valley leading to Russia.
The inner wall of the memorial is full of mosaics with the figure of the motherland in the centre and characters from Georgia on one side and those from Russia on the other. Two Georgians designed this detailed design and it is quite poigant but the more you look the more you think that there is a lot of hidden meaning, some tongue in cheek.

The second stop....
The Ananuri Fortress and church on the edge of a reservoir. It was originally built by a rich noble family as one of the thousand watch towers in this valley. But they put a toll on the road and with their encruing riches were soon able to expand the building until it became a large fortress!

Arrival in Tbilisi was mid afternoon. Tonight, dinner is at the top of the holy mountain in the city reached by a funicular rIlway. So the views should be stunning.