We are only in Ganja for a few hours. We’ve reserved a room at a very nice upscale hotel so we
can sleep for a few hours before catching our train at 2:30am onward to Tbilisi Georgia.
We arrive in Ganja in time for lunch and set out to find a nice place to enjoy a sunny terrace meal. There are many sunny terraces but all cater to an only male clientele. Beer and hookah are plentiful but menus not. We return to the hotel and have a pleasant meal inside. There are several other tables being served. All women only. This is a university town. We are surrounded by university buildings and students and feel stuck in the Middle Ages. After an afternoon’s wander, we return to the hotel for an early dinner, early night and very early wake up call at 1:30am.
The hotel provides a driver to take us to the train station, which is deserted except for the station night manager, two old men and a family of cats. The cats wander in and out at will as they know how to activate the automatic doors. The two old men try to entice us to share their boiled potatoes and vodka. We decline both. Soon our train arrives, we climb aboard and head to our first class cabin…..
Wait for it……
Surprise, nothing untoward happened. It was a cabin for two – as advertised. The sheets were crisp and clean. We locked the door, lay down and sort of went to sleep. It was a bit of a bumpy jerky ride. We were woken at 6am, handed over our passports and went through the multi stages of crossing another border. Soon the train was rolling through the slums of Tbilisi. This city had extensive slums stretching along the tracks for several kilometres into town. Even as we enjoy the tidy bright bustling tourist areas – those slums and the people who call them home come to mind.
We spend the day getting the lay of the land. Tbilisi is a hilly city with many steep cobbled streets, an ancient crowded poorly ventilated metro under the streets and many desperate beggars out the streets. We walk around with pockets full of change to drop into their little tin boxes and dirty weathered hands. There are hundreds of wine cellars and restaurants. We’ve tasted in several. The food in Georgia is much much superior to what we’ve become used to for much of this trip. It is such a pleasure to order a variety of local dishes and experience delicious flavours – none of which include nasty greasy old mutton.
But I get ahead of myself. After a day in Tbilisi, and a night at the oddest little guesthouse pinned precariously and haphazardly under the walls of a larger building, we hop on yet another mini bus and go back east to the mountaintop village of Signagi.
The drive takes us through a land of vineyards. The entire county appears to be occupied with growing grapes. More on grapes and wine in the next episode.