9/1 We started today feeling more rested then the previous day and ready to explore Tbilisi. After breakfast and some well needed time getting ready we flagged down a taxi and headed to city center. I sat in the front seat while Michelle, Melissa, Emily W., and Sandra (from Zimbabwe) sat in the back. Our taxi driver was an older man, say 60-70 years old, with the typical Georgian belly. He tried to communicate with us in Georgian with no success, but Michelle saved the day with her Russian. (Most of the population older than 20 speaks both Russian and Georgian due to the Soviet rule over this country which ended with the end of Communism). He tried to tell us about the city and why it was named Tbilisi, but Michelle could only translate so much for us. Either way he was really nice. As for his driving, I think the book described it very well. Georgians care somewhat about people on the street but cars definitely have the right of way.
We walked down the main street (Rustaveli Ave) for a couple of hours, taking pictures and trying to identify landmarks we read about in our tour books. After walking around we found a small park that had a bend in the shade. We made the mistake of sitting down on that bench. Not a few minutes later a couple of Georgian guys came over to talk to us. It was not long after that they discovered that Michelle could speak Russian also. After a horrible awkward but none intrusive conversation we began to leave and found a taxi to take us back to the hotel.
Later we went to the Georgian version of “Walmart” or Goodwill. There we picked up a few essentials and realized that not only being able to speak but read Russian would be a very useful skill. Although they call it the Georgian “Walmart,” it is nothing like Walmart, Target, Tesco or anything else like what we have in the states or the rest of Europe. That night we had dinner and later we had our first taste of Georgian wine-it was amazing!!!