Last week I had a day off, so I took the opportunity to go up to Telavi. For me, it was the perfect place to go for a day trip: it’s one of my favorite places to visit in Georgia (the view of the Caucasus is incredible); it’s relatively close to Tbilisi; I know the way well (when I lived in Kakheti my supervisor was based in Telavi), so I didn’t have to do much work to prepare for a trip; one of my best friends lives there; and they’ve finally finished the construction downtown!
I took a marshrutka from Ortachala station for two reasons. 1) It’s in a neighborhood I know well and 2) sometimes those marshrutkas go through the Gombori pass (as S and I discovered back when we were new to the marshrutka thing), and I hadn’t been through the pass yet and wanted to see it. Unfortunately, I wound up on a long-haul marshrutka, but I was in no hurry and appreciated the opportunity to see what my old stomping grounds look like in fall.
When I arrived in Telavi, I met up with my friend and her friend, and we went to lunch. The food scene in Telavi has exploded since last time I was there. The cafe where we ate, Blitz, is apparently the place to be. They always serve shwarma and pizza, and often have daily specials–I’ve heard tales of lasagna and curry. I ordered the best pizza I’ve had in Georgia–it bore no resemblance whatsoever to khachapuri, had an excellent thin crust, and was even dusted with Italian herbs–highly recommended. My old supervisor was there eating lunch, too. After lunch we went for a stroll down the newly renovated main street. I thought it was nice, but my friends who live in Telavi weren’t impressed–they say it looked fine before, and looks fake now. I’d only ever seen it covered in scaffolding, so my frame of reference is quite different from theirs. We wandered to a lovely new park that is sadly already falling apart–this project was certainly “completed” in a rush. The view, however, was unaffected by the sloppy construction work, and it was incredible. Sadly none of us had a camera to capture the mountains that day–it was a somewhat gray day, but though the Alazani Valley was filled with mist, and the Caucasus themselves were clear. It looked like something out of a fantasy novel. Then we paid a visit to the Giant Plane Tree. I wasn’t expecting anything special, but that tree really is giant! It’s not a place to spend a long time, but it’s certainly worth taking a gander.
I returned home via shared taxi, a first-time experience for me. My friend thinks they’re more comfortable and less hassle than marshrutkas, but I don’t know if I agree. The catch for me, though, was that the shared taxis almost always take the Gombori Pass and the ride is much shorter (it also costs 3 GEL more). I finally made it through the Gombori Pass as the sun was setting, and it is a beautiful part of Georgia!