Hear Me Roar.

Vacation, Hoorah! Georgia, Athens, Israel, Oh My… | January 3, 2014

For the first time since moving to Ukraine, I took a real vacation to another country… where I remembered the value of the American dollar and lived beyond my means of a PCV in a Ukrainian village…

On Dec 26 I arrived in the country of Georgia, where I spent 3 days in the capital city Tbilisi with other PCVs from Georgia and Tommy:20140103-183149.jpg

Even Georgians are for the revolution in Ukraine…20140103-183236.jpg

Street art.

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The synagogue.

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Castles on a cliff.

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Gondola rides across the city.20140103-183337.jpg

Me’n’Tommy

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The city of Tbilisi

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The mother statue overlooking the city of Tbilisi.20140103-183419.jpg

The butt shot.

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This was the most delicious and cheapest restaurant in all of Georgia – Go to Georgia, find this place, and order a tray of their Meat Dumpling things (Khinkali)

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Mushroom appetizer, with pomegranite seeds20140103-183504.jpg

The meat dumpling things (called Khinkali)… I even tried a bite, and it’s making me question my vegetarianism…20140103-183513.jpg

Other traditional Georgian food includes the Hachipuri – a cheesy bread dish, and more salty bread on the side20140103-183522.jpg

The kitchen where the magic happens…20140103-183531.jpg

Opera house on the main street:20140103-183540.jpg

More of the main street:

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Beautifully lit up at night:

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Sorry to take so many pictures of food, but it just had to be captured. This is an eggplant dish, with a walnut spread, garnished with parseley and pomegranite.

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What’s a capital city without a human-sized chess board and a piano for a giant? Dad, this is the place for you:20140103-183738.jpg

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This is a march – maybe in support of Ukraine? Maybe everyone just wanted to walk together?

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Georgian wine….

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This was our wine-tasting guy.20140103-183903.jpg

Was he also the DJ at the club we went to later? You be the judge.20140103-183910.jpg

More stencil wall art…

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In sum, Georgia felt a lot like Ukraine… Here’s a stark contrast between the endless unfinished construction on every street, with a Porsche in the background.

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Visiting the old capital city of Georgia, and famous churches/World Heritage Sites:

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After our morning of sight-seeing we tried to find a cafe, but were instead ushered into this woman’s basement. When in doubt, just trust the older woman with no teeth yellilng at you in a language you can’t understand and eat whatever she puts in front of you…20140103-184509.jpg

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At first, skeptical (pictured here Georgia PCVs Egle and Scott)…20140103-184529.jpg

After noticing the deer with silver ear-warmers on, we knew everthing was going to be ok:

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Especially after she showed us her storage of wine and jams (just like Ukraine!)

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Sauteed spinach with pomegranite, an eggplant dish, pickled cabbage, and a meat stew, with salty bread on the side:

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This is “cha-cha” – moonshine made from fruit. I thought our vodka was strong in Ukraine, but this puts it to shame:

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Our official bill:

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A sulfur bath-house. After a large woman scrubbed me from head to toe, I feel like my skin is softer than butter. She scrubbed really really hard. Beware.

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This is another version of their “Hachipurri” – a bread bowl, with a feta/cottage cheese baked in the center – then with a raw egg cracked on top, and a healthy hunk’o’butter to top it off. DELISH!20140103-185226.jpg

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Oh, just hanging out at the airport with my new friends:

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Landed in Athens at 7:30am, with a 15 hour layover on our way to Israel – giving just enough time to get lost in this ancient city, climb up and down hills, make new friends, and eat more delicious food.20140103-190548.jpg

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Pick a hill, walk in that direction, until you make it to the top:

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After walking for hours, I decided to finally stop and have a meal. I asked a woman selling clothes on the street where she would eat lunch, and she pointed me to this restaurant away from the crowds of tourists, with local Greek people eating there. The old man sitting at the table next to me said I can’t order from the menu, I have to go look at the food. That convinced me to get a “half portion” of every vegetarian item listed there – rice with spinach and lemon, garbonzo beans boiled with tomato broth, and eggplant baked with peppers – all accompanied by fresh feta cheese and bread. 20140103-190736.jpg

The old man sitting next to me, Thanassus, who in broken English explained that he is a taxi driver, but today is his day off so he’s taking care of his sick friend who lives above the meat shop down the street (pictured below), offered to show me around Athens on the back of his bike.

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How could I say no to a face like this?20140103-190754.jpg

Plus, my legs were exhausted, so up and around endless ruins and through open markets we went for the rest of the day:20140103-190805.jpg

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This is Thanassus and his best friend, Kostya, who have been best friends since they were 6. We spent a long time sitting together, discussing caring for birds.

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Me and Thanassus!

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Don’t worry, not all strangers are bad – I made it unharmed to the airport, and onto the last leg of the vacation: Jerusalem.

The main street, Jaffa:

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A bakery – get the cheese puffs she convinced me!20140103-190938.jpg

A hike to the top of Mesada to see the sunrise on Jan 1st. A majestic, amazing, wonderful way to begin the new year:20140103-190954.jpg

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Followed by a drive along the coast, to the Dead Sea.20140103-191104.jpg

Followed by eating 3 Falafel Pitas, which Tommy gave me 40 shekles for eating within 30 minutes, as well as paying for the last 2 pitas for me. Sure, I felt like I was going to throw up and don’t need to eat another falafel for the rest of the year, but heck – anything for a sheckel!20140103-191111.jpg

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The western wall, with the Dome of the Rock (mosque) in the background.20140103-191140.jpg

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The market frenzy before shabbat.20140103-191248.jpg

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And then, home sweet home… 20140103-191311.jpg

 

The vacation was wonderful, I would recommend all the places I went to, all the people I met, all the food I ate.

At the airport I waited a few hours, because the one and only Kathleen “Mad Dog” Cahill arrived on my birthday and spent the next 10 days in Ukraine with me!

Stay tuned…


1 Comment »

  1. Dear Jacqi, The pictures and descriptions are terrific; I loved the travelogue. And the food looks photo perfect, almost as good as the shrimp in Goa.Matt and I ate like royalty in Mexico and would have loved it even more if you were along. Love you, Grandma Diane

    Comment by diane sloves — January 16, 2014 @ 2:07 pm


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