White Shit

This is still about Georgia, haven’t been to Colombia yet, so it refers to Snow. And by Snow, I mean frozen water, not John Snow, the GoT character who died in the last episode of Season 7.

Mountains are calling and I must go. After the first easy days, it was time to start to travel in style, and it all began with this pretty red bus that 4 times a week goes to Barisakho. Despite the color without the help of locals would be hard to find in the Didube marshrutka station. Didube is an interesting place that hosts about half of Georgian touts, though they are very few and quite low profile. Having to wait there is not a problem, as you can have a pint of beer for 1.5 lari (€0.56), very likely some local will buy you a second one.
 
I spent the first night in Barishako with a lovely lady who explained a big deal about the Orthodox Saints spread around her house, in Russian. Next day I hiked to Roshka and was intended to get to the 3 colored Abudelauri Lakes. Not even close, big fail. Shits loads of snow, sinking in every step with my backpack and dangerous falls into water creeks.
Back to Roshka and if possible try to find a guesthouse as I wouldn’t fancy to camp at -10. The tiny village was still empty as locals only come with their cattle after the snow melts and grass grows. I saw a girl in one house and went to ask. She asked what the hell was I doing there. Hey Miss, I am usually the one asking that question… on Sunday mornings 🙂 Turns out, it was the only guesthouse, but not yet open.
Dangerous local wildlife
I was the first tourist of the season, yay! Apparently, you should go after mid-June. Otherwise, the lakes are frozen. She was lovely and told me I could stay with her and her parents. I had a great time with them, Georgian hospitality didn’t let me down. I end up staying a couple of days and going back with her to Tbilisi.
On my second day, now without the backpack, I made a 2nd aim for the lakes. Failed again after much snow fighting. Too risky to go alone. Still, the hike around was worth it and got close to the stunning Chaukhi range. Apparently, it was the snowiest year in a long time in the Caucasus. If I keep writing, expect more whining about the white shit, this time not about the price.
On my way back I saw 3 Giorgis hanging out. Every man in Georgia is named Giorgi, same as any woman is Nino. For the look of it, I had a guess of what was going on and what was gonna happen. Not a big surprise, they were not having craft beer and hummus.
Chacha o’clock
As soon as they spotted me from the distance they signed me to join them.  In Georgia you don’t look for chacha, chacha finds you. A session of heavy drinking, toasting, and cheerful singing-dancing followed. There is no drinking in Georgia without toasting first and they are good at it. At some point, they will ask you to propose a toast. Say “for Armenia”, they would love it.
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No one step back

Gori is not far from Tbilisi and only famous for being the birthplace of Stalin. Long time no see Joseph!. There is a Stalin Museum, located in the Stalin Park, on the main city avenue named… can you guess it? Leon Trotsky? Milton Friedman? Nope, it is the Stalin Avenue.

As the museum doesn’t make any attempt to judge, neither I am going to do here. There you can find random stuff about the State Capitalist leader: statues, carpets, his train, lots of pictures, his pyjamas… As well, many Stalin souvenirs in the surroundings shops.

Another thing nearby you can see (or avoid) is Upshtilike cave city, just saying.

It has been already one week of traveling so let’s see how I am doing with my travel goals list:

Find the cheapest beer in town (€0.56 a pint) ✔
Hitchhike ✔
Lost/damege electronic devices (casio & powerbank) ✔
Learn local language basics:hello, thank you and I didn’t know she was 16 in local ✖
Drinking the local moonlight ✔
Going in a bus with chicken ✔
Crash into a wedding ✖
Small scam from a local tout ✔

Tbilisi loves you

The free wifi network “Tbilisi loves you” will greet you as you arrive at the airport (great for sleeping btw). The same lovable network will follow you around the city center, to make sure you don’t miss on the latest news in Venezuela, your friends’ meals on FB, or your Tinder matches, if that is your thing.

Soon I could see some of the familiar features of former Soviet countries cities: krushyovkas, marshutkas, ladas, leafy big avenues, deep underground with a lady in a cabin by the escalator, supermarkets with a larger variety of vodka and beer than food… That makes easier figuring out how things work. Sure there are some nice differentials particular to the Georgian landscape: khachapuri in all shapes and sizes, good food, and smiley people that even seem kind of happy.

Stalin Chacha, more about Joseph in the next episode…

Overall, Tbilisi is a pretty pleasant city. It has an interesting nightlife, you may just go out for a beer in the evening and be back at sunrise. There are many chances that friendly Georgians will assault you armed with chacha. I was expecting chacha to be like vodka or tequila, but it plays in a different league, closer to absinthe I would say. Chacha loves you as much as Tbilisi, just in a different way. Tbilisi is like the sweet lover you hold hands with in the park, while Chacha is more like the priest that approaches a kid with sweet talk and then… all of a sudden… becomes another isolated case.

One day I visited Sighnagi, in the wine region. There I had a guesthouse for myself to chill out and take a break from the chacha life. I was told the place is good for a couple of hours, but that is too optimistic, I would say more like half an hour. Going for a stroll to the nearby monastery may keep you busy a bit longer. It’s a pretty village and locals are certainly an endearing, laid back bunch. Sighnagi is good if you go, life goes on if you don’t.