Republic of Georgia with Kids: A visit to Mtshkheta – and don’t forget the Barf Washing Powder!

December 12, 2010 at 11:53 pm

We found Georgian to be unpronounceable.

High up on the hill

Outside Jvari

The following day we planned a visit to the former capital of Mtskheta – we could never quite figure out how to say it but since it’s the most popular day trip from Tbilisi people understood exactly where we wanted to go.

Inside the holy Cathedral

Inside the holy Cathedral at Mtshkheta

We took the metro to the central bus station at Didube and were quickly directed to a Marshrutka minibus. We scrambled in, were happy  to see another couple of tourists as well, and waited for departure. After about 10 minutes the van was full and we left. Our destination was only about 30 minutes away, and soon we were out and walking towards the great Cathedral of Svetitskhoveli, built on the site where Christ’s robe was believed to have been buried after it was apparently brought to Georgia from Jerusalem.

Georgians are religious and the churches and cathedrals everywhere have a special feeling of piety. Inside, we saw people fixed in prayer, and groups of Georgians were singing and chanting, while dark robed monks walked all around. We found it very interesting though we didn’t stay long. The kids preferred wandering around the courtyard outside, where they picked up a few spent bullet cartridges. We have no idea why they were there, but had this holy site been one of the battlegrounds in Georgia’s civil wars? We had no idea.

We then took a cab to the Jvari church, on a hill overlooking Mtskheta – a UNESCO world heritage site, the church was another huge testament to the deep sense of religion that permeates much of Georgian society. We were not alone – there was a large group of students there , who it turned out were visitors from the Ukraine. We learned that it was here, in Mtskheta, that the kings of ancient Georgia were converted to Christianity by a Nino, who arrived in the early 300’s – she was either the daughter of a Roman general, or she was a slave girl from Jerusalem, nobody really knows, but it was due to her that Georgia became the second Christian country in the world after Armenia.

From there it was another ride back to Didube, where we wandered about the market. While the market was very interesting, we found a number of the people there to be very unfriendly – why, we had no idea. We thought it might be a holover from Soviet days – foreigners, not to be trusted!  We laughed at Barf washing powder, and we bought some of Georgia’s traditional candies, which are nuts set in a hardened grape juice mix – it kind of looks like a sausage except it’s sweet. We thought it was ok, not great. We also found some very cheap soccer shirts – we bought two Spanish shirts – Puyol and Farbegas – only that the real name is Fabregas – but then , this was a knock off in a Tbilisi market!

Hilarious

Hilarious

Later it was back on the metro to our apartment.

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