21 July 2008

Istanbul to Georgia

Okay... so I haven't had the best access to internet the last few days. So a quick update before I try to catch up on the last week. We stayed in Istanbul for 4 days and on Sunday we flew to Batumi on the eastern coast of Georgia. Tonight we're getting the train to Tbilisi - the capital - on the 10.30pm sleeper train. Should be interesting.

We were walking around Batumi with our heavy backpacks on looking for a hotel, hostel or somewhere to stay and an old woman approached us asking "Hotel?" I replied with a tentative, "Yeeaah (?)" wondering where this could be leading. She said, "My place, my place!" I am quite sure these are the only English words she knows. I don't even think yes and no are in her vocabulary - and she keeps saying my name but I learned today that ara means no in Georgian. After she just kept talking Georgian really fast and nodding and smiling as if we understood everything.

So we pointed to our eyes, asking to check out her place. It was in an old Italian building with very few doors, fewer locks and pretty much built out of wood. It's like a big, wide, 4-story shack. She wanted 50 GEL (25 euro) -writing it on a notepad that we've learnt to ALWAYS keeps with us - telling us that other hostels cost between between 100-160 - but telling her we found a real hotel for 60 GEL (which we did) we were able to negotiate her to 40. Of course I would've prefered the hotel, and 40 GEL is probably over-priced if any of you saw this place, but we figured we'd pay for this interesting experience, and to sample Georgian hospitality.

It was certainly interesting. Besides the family and the kids running in and out of our room at leisure, the showering experience was most "fun." We had to wait for a tiny, orange light to go out - meaning the host water was ready - and then turn a small lever about 90 degrees to the right, allowing a small trickle of water to dribble out from a shower nozzle that was attached to a massive turbine-like, cylinder suspended on the wall. I turned off the water after each 5 second usuage - following the old woman's instruction of "economia" - lathering up with the very modest moisture, and then rinsing off with heated water from a large plastic container sitting beside the shower - which was being heated with a element with exposed wiring. And all the water washed down the drain, which was in the centre of the bathroom.

This morning we were woken by the yelling and screaming of adults and children alike that is expected in any crazy house.

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