Return to Tbilisi

In the morning we piled back into our bus for the drive back to Tbilisi.We soon arrived at the Khertvisi Fortress said to have been visited by Alexander the Great.  To get the best view we had to cross the suspension bridge.  Unfortunately we had a long drive ahead of us and did not have time to climb up to the fortress.

We drove through a desolate area where they used dried cow dung as a heating and cooking fuel.

We visited a monastery recently restored by the government after decades of neglect during Soviet times.  Here the nuns did a good business making and selling jams, chocolates and religious souvenirs.

We passed a large salt lake with few people living nearby.  Apparently the farming is not easy here.

We got back to Tbilisi in time for a late lunch and a visit to the National Museum that had been closed on the Monday when we had first toured Tbilisi.

There were many small gold and silver artifacts from many centuries ago.

I was more interested in the costumes from Georgia's varied regions.

The top floor was dedicated to the Soviet Occupation of Georgia, from 1921 until 1989, with lists and pictures of Georgians who had been killed in the 1921 and the many purges since then.  And they were quick to point out that the Russians still occupy two provinces.

That evening we had another Georgian feast and said goodbye to our traveling companions.  I had one more day and spent several relaxed hours going back up the cable car to explore the botanical garden in the hills very close to the center of the old city.  Some of the park was set aside to grow naturally while other areas had trees and flowers from other parts of Georgia.

In one corner was a small memorial to leaders of the country during the brief period of independence after World War I.

At the top of the hill I found a view back over the city.

After a lunch of Adjarian Khachapuri (bread shaped like a bowl with melted cheese and a soft cooked egg) I wandered the city, finding a couple T-shirts and other souvenirs.  The next day I found a taxi to the airport for the long trip to Qatar, Boston and then Vermont.

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