Georgia, Day 0 - A Flight Into the Unknown

bedroom view in georgia

And so we fly once more into the unknown. 

This sensation, once commonplace and then for years on end, has become foreign. In these circumstances you can know that such undertakings are not new, but they feel such regardless. 

Even in those olden days, however, the trips for which I had no expectations at all were rare indeed. Is there less excitement, therefore? Perhaps, but also more intrigue, and an utter lack of expectations makes disappointment impossible. 

I know next to nothing about Georgia. I’ve seen the curved, alien writing and the photos of a small church exposed on a lower hill with the Caucasus towering behind. It was part of the Soviet Union, and a place of violent turmoil during perestroika. It was invaded by Russia in 2008. Stalin was born there, as was Napoli left winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. 

This, apart from a handful of place names gleaned during my short-lived attempt to form an itinerary, is the sum total of my Georgian knowledge. The closest I’ve been to the country physically is Cyprus; some 1,200km as the crow flies. The closest culturally was a meal at a Georgian restaurant with friends from my Spanish class in Barcelona last year.


And so, as I write this around halfway over the Mediterranean, I truly do fly into the unknown. 

An update. 

Following a two-hour delay taking off, we landed in Kutaisi (mid-western Georgia, visited now – including by me – because budget airline Wizz Air flies there) at around 430am local time. 

There were no buses into the city, so I was forced into my least favourite part of any trip: the Airport Taxi Battle. The first driver to approach asked for 50 GEL, as the owner of my guesthouse had said he would. I countered with 30 GEL. He countered with 20 GEL. I looked at him, and he waved me away and pointed out someone else. 

That person agreed to 30 GEL and handed me over to a driver. The driver messaged on his phone as we went and veered across the road. Shortly after entering Kutaisi he accidentally ran over a dog and killed it. We arrived at the guesthouse at 515am. It was already light to the east. 

Then, as always, began the real Battle. 

He wanted 50 GEL. I said we’d agreed on 30. We argued about it for five minutes, despite neither of us speaking a word of the other’s language. I settled for 40. He kept arguing. He wanted the running shoes tied to the handle of my backpack. I rang the buzzer at the gate. A woman came out of the guesthouse bleary-eyed and up the drive. She didn’t speak English either. The driver spoke to her. She didn’t respond. He begrudgingly pulled two 20 GEL notes from his pocket for my 100. I held up four fingers for 40, for the twentieth time at least. Finally he brought out the third 20, and we swapped the notes concurrently as if spies were being exchanged across a border. Neither of us said a word to the other, and I went in through the gate. 

The curtain in my bedroom only covers half the window. The cover reaches two-thirds of the way down the bed, so either my chest or feet are exposed. With the sun already half-risen (see the photo at the top of this page) I finally got to sleep at around 630am local time. 

Oh, it’s good to be travelling again. 

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