Our final day in Tbilisi unveils some surprising jewels – one in particular was the Sun. I figure tomorrow will be a beautiful day as I strike out for home. Doesn’t it always work that way???
If you can remember back to our arrival day, we saw a few of the city sites and then traveled to the old capital. Well today is dedicated to all the hidden gems to be found in this capital city of Tbilisi. And I apologize….this is gonna sound like a history lesson but there IS so much history about this little country that I just have to share some of it with you.
To begin with – a visit to the National Museum of Georgia – You could spend days in this museum as it contains an impressive collection of artifacts and riches that date back thousands of years. Fortunately most displays are also in English along with the native Georgian even though a bit of the ancient history might be unfamiliar to the western visitor. It was established in 2004 and is today a very large and inclusive collection of museums and research centers around the country.
In the National Museum the archaeological treasury contains golden artifacts and jewelry discovered in the various excavations around the country. These are works of early Georgian(Colkhetian) goldsmiths representing jewelry dating from the 3rd century BC to the 4th century AD. Colkhetian jewelry such as diadems, temple rings, necklaces, bracelets, etc. date to the 5th-4th centuries BC and were found on territory once part of the “kingdom of Colkheti”, known as Colchis or the “Land of the Golden Fleece” from Greek mythology.
Here are just a few of the amazing golden artifacts on display –
On a more somber note – a special exhibit in one section of the museum documented the history of 70 brutal years of Soviet occupation and oppression. Over 25% of the population died at the hands of Soviet occupiers. It is a very grim reminder of what this nation has endured…and also a testament to their strong character and resiliency.
From the museum we head out into the streets to explore Tbilisi –
from the ultra modern Peace Bridge to the ancient buildings of “Old Town”. The government has invested heavily in the reconstruction of the city – not only the old town but by bringing in modern architecture, expressive sculptures and other forms of art to be displayed around the city.
As a terminus of the famous Silk Road, Tbilisi has always played a major part in the trading of goods, ideas and cultures. The Silk Road was a trading route that played a significant role in the development of the civilizations of China, the Indian subcontinent, Persia, Europe and Arabia. The silk road initially connected China with India and Persia.
Of course China’s exquisite silk goods were the lucrative item but trade extended to many other goods as well as various technologies, religions and philosophies…and unfortunately the bubonic plague. Georgia again in this 21st century is poised and in an advantageous position to facilitate trade between Asia and Europe.
As we navigate the busy and crowded streets we arrive at our lunch destination. It is a stark contrast to all of our previous dining venues. Here we are in the heart of the bustling and thriving “new town” and sitting down to lunch in an ultra modern, sleek restaurant featuring not only fabulous Georgian dishes but also a fair assortment of Italian dishes. Once again, quantity overwhelms us. But everything is absolutely delicious!
It is a relatively “quick” lunch as we have an important appointment to keep with the US Ambassador this afternoon. It is very obvious that the US would like to build and strengthen ties with this well-positioned(strategic) young democracy. Entry to the Embassy was similar to going through airport security…well, OK a little bit more stringent. Fortifications were evident with thick bullet-proof glass, massive stone walls, fences and barricades…you get the picture. We were given a visitor’s pass in exchange for our passport; then escorted into the building and upstairs to the Ambassador’s conference room.
Ambassador Richard Norland was most gracious and engaging. It was not all show but definite substance as we exchanged views and strategies for advancing tourism to Georgia. The exchange lasted almost an hour and everyone came away with a sense of accomplishment.
With time so crunched we have only a couple of hours to repack and get ready for our evening of farewell celebrations. Shopping time has been nil and the only “treasures” we’ve been able to snag are t-shirts from the embassy and a few Georgian/Russian chocolate bars. What’s wrong with this picture?? I am sure there are untold trinkets and treasures…but unfortunately that will have to wait for the next time.
Tonight we celebrate all that is Georgian…from its delectable foods and wines to its enchanting folk music and dancing. Our hosts have truly outdone themselves this evening. Our banquet displays a plethora of delectable dishes and the wine flows freely. Georgian dancers and musicians entertain us throughout the evening. It is a grand party celebrating newly minted friendships and a promise of sharing this wonderful land and their enchanting people with everyone back home.
Stay tuned for more…..