12 October 2013

Return to Tbilisi with a Stopover in Mtskheta

Just shy of two years after my first trip to Tbilisi I was happy to being visiting again, in much better weather this time too! We started out morning with breakfast in a kitchen that was almost literally the size of my entire two-bedroom, bath and a half apartment. Swoon! Multiple ovens! Multiple refrigerators! Wrap around counters! An island!!!

Sorry, this is supposed to be about Tbilisi, not my kitchen jealousy! After breakfast we decided, at the urging of our host, to first visit the Jvari Monastery and Mtskheta, the old capital of Georgia. I was quiet glad we listened to her as, not only was the monastery lovely, the view of Mtskheta from it was stunning.

View of Mtskheta from Jvari

Somewhat surprisingly for me, while editing my pictures I refrained from using any of the color effects I normally like to use. And of the hundreds of pictures I took this week, I converted only two to black and white. This first one, one of the out buildings of Jvari, just seemed to want to be black and white.

In Mtskheta, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, we visited another church (sensing a theme to our vacation?!), the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, one of the most important churches in Georgian Orthodoxy. The current church was built in the 11th century but the site and the legends surrounding it date back to the 4th century and the church is know for being the burial site of the Christ's mantel (the one for which 'they drew lots').

This side chapel is done in the Russian Orthodox style.

The church was the place where Georgian kings were crowned and many of the royals of history are buried here. The greater church also houses a small copy of the Chapel of the Holy Sepulcher which you can kind of see through the far right arch below.

Where the mantel is buried

Icon of the Trinity inviting the viewer to table

We left Mtskheta for the new capitol, Tbilisi. I had our driver drop us off near the top of the main street through the city so KMac and I could spend the afternoon walking and exploring the old city. I mostly remembered my way around...although I think KMac would argue with that. We wandered around looking for old city which I was sure was across the bridge. Confused by our guidebook (there just are not good guidebooks for Georgia!) we decided to cross one of the bridges and take a cable car up to a ruined fort and see the Mother of Georgia statue.

It seemed like a great idea until we got on the cable car! I'd just been on one not a month earlier when I went to Eyup so I didn't think anything of this one; but it was somewhat terrifying. Not only was it one of those awful types that doesn't actually stop so you have to hop in and out of it while it's in motion, but it also abruptly sped up as soon as it left the platform.  The view of Tbilisi from above was fantastic and kind of made the ride worth it.

Or so we thought while we were up there. Luckily we managed to get a car to ourselves for the ride down and prayed a string of Hail Marys until we got off. We both (I think anyway, I know I did though!) had our eyes closed for the ride and you could tell when one of us peeked because the tone of the prayer would go up a few octatves!

While we were up top, after snapping a few pictures, I surveyed the view, especially the area on the other side of the bridge, looking for old city. KMac pointed out where it was in the guidebook and on the city map we had, both of which indicated that old city was basically the are from which we'd just come. I vehemently insisted that the guides were WRONG because I had been there before and I KNEW old city was on the other side of the bridge. I was insistent!

*Throat clearing* Turns out the guidebook and map were correct and I was a wee bit mistaken. What I was remembering as old city Tbilisi...was actually old city Skopje. Honest mistake! Both places I visited in the winter when things were cold, wet, snowy, and grey. Seriously, anyone could have made the same mistake :p

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