Last Tuesday night, my good friend Genie and I decided we needed a break from school and all of the obligations that come with being in college. It seems as if most of our time as exchange students has been spent wasted away in study rooms, writing essays, drinking coffee, preparing for exams. Our spirits weren’t meant to be caged that way. We are travelers. We seek excitement. We seek adventure. So after very little planning, and virtually no thought or concern about the consequences we’d face for putting off our academic responsibilities, we stuffed our bags with snacks, clothes, passports, poetry books, and caught the next red eye flight to Tbilisi, Georgia!
On our first day in Georgia, we decided to visit the Narikala Fortress, one of the country's most famous tourist attractions.
After a short cable car ride up to the fortress we stopped to admire this stunning view overlooking Old Town Tbilisi.
This Georgian local greeted us with excitement, insisting we take her photo with her two furry companions. "I'm their babushka!" she said. Luckily, "babushka" is one of the very few words I know in Russian. In the context she used, it translates to "grandmother." Though Georgian is the official language of Georgia, Russian is also a very common language spoken by locals. Conveniently, my friend Genie is fluent in Russian and therefore we were able to effectively communicate and find our way around.
By the evening, we ventured away from Tbilisi's touristic areas towards the less commercialized, and more culturally rich places like this quaint, Georgian, puppet theater called the Gabriadze Theater. The show we watched, entitled "Autumn of My Springtime," is set in poverty stricken Kutaisi, Georgia just after World War II. Its main character is a hedonistic bird named Boria Gadai who feels compelled to take care of his newly widowed owner, Domna.
After a two hour ride in a mini-bus from Tbilisi we finally reached the tiny village of Kazbegi (also known as Stepantsminda, meaning "Saint Stephan") located 15 km (about 9.3 miles) from the Russian- Georgian border. Though small and hidden, this village is famous for its beautiful scenery and outdoor activities. We hiked for about two hours reaching this breathtaking view of the snow covered Greater Caucasus Mountains.