2/8 – How you know you are in a post-Soviet country:
1. Buy an apple
2. Wash off the apple in the hotel sink
3. Drop the slippery apple into the sink
4. Observe the result
The streets are wide, and the drivers aggressive, like New Yorkers, leaning on their horns. Pedestrians aren’t permitted to cross the street, but use pedestrian underpasses filled with small shops and panhandlers. There are more old women begging than we’ve seen in a while. The souvenir market is set up daily on the wide steps of one of the ornate but deserted buildings, and includes artisans working on new paintings as they sell their wares.
We hear western music, in English, and see that there is an affinity for American things here.
There are staid, old buildings, amid flashy new hotels and casinos. Casinos seem to be a big thing here. We looked into one, but they took my camera, (as well as inspecting my eyeglasses for hidden gadgets!), so no pix.
Some statues and wall art:
We stop at a Greek Orthodox Church.
We have lunch at a cafe advertising authentic Georgian food. We figure we better have some, as we will only be here one more day! Beef stew, a warm corn pie (a big hush puppy), cold spinach balls, and cold eggplant, decorated with pomegranate seeds. Very tasty.
Tomorrow we will return to the train station for an overnight sleeper to Baku, Azerbaijan. From there we will determine if it is possible to book passage on a commercial ferry to Kazakhstan. We’ve read many blogs about the complexities of this leg of the journey, and will remain flexible if it turns out that it can’t be arranged in the 10 days permitted on our Azerbaijan visa. The main focus is to get to China before the end of February. Stay tuned!