Oh Yeah… Georgia

I can’t explain the experience of flying into Georgia. Things were so different this time. The uncertainty and adrenaline of experiencing the unknown were gone. But I still felt emotional.

Then things came into sharp focus when we had to haggle a taxi to the hostel. We whisked past the familiar sites of Tbilisi- Peace Bridge, old town, the radio tower. The hostel itself was… a Georgian hostel. But we were soo tired, it didn’t matter. And if anything up to that point was interpreted as ‘easing’ me into being back in Georgia, the Hostel bathroom smacked me in the face with a good ol’ ‘Welcome Back’! I’ve said this before, but I simply don’t get and can’t understand the logic or illogic of a Georgian bathroom. It was as if ZERO thought went into the functionality of these important, dare I say MOST important, room of the house.

We had to turn in our flight stubs at the TLG head office. This was good because I had never seen the place. The offices are in the Ministry of Education and Sciences Building. A very impressive structure in a very impressive area of Tbilisi. When we arrived, although they said it would be open on Sunday, the doors were locked. …Okay.

We were meandering around the front for a while, when two security guards came up to us. I said, ‘Hello’. And they asked were we TLG. “Why, Yes we are.” He told us to go around the side of the building. We were pointed in a particular direction by several other people until we were left on our own inside the building. Then it was a matter of trial and error to find the correct room with TLG staff.  So we turned in our ticket stubs and signed contact extensions or in my case an addendum.

At the office, another friend, Matt strolled into the office. That was a fortunate meet up, because Matt lives near my town of Ozurgeti. So I would travel back with him. Which brings me to the crazy Georgian experience of the day!

We left the hostel at 6:30ish to get to the train station and buy tickets. The plan was to buy three tickets (Matt, Sam and myself) for a private sleep car. Sam was going to continue on to Batumi. Well first off Batumi and Ozurgeti were on different lines, so we wouldn’t be traveling together. Secondly, There were no more sleeper car spots available. We would have to get regular seats. Whatever, we had to get back.

So we sat around the station for two hours until our train departed. In the mean, time we saw Minnie Mouse!!! She was a surprise guest at a kid party in the train terminal (weird place for a party space, I know). Man, the things you see at a train station.

We decided to head to the train ten minutes before the departure time; first mistake. Actually a mistake before that was not knowing which and where our specific platform was. Because, although I only saw a sign for platform 2 and 3, we were scheduled to leave from platform 1. But for some reason I didn’t register that this was a problem.

When it came to finding the train, we went out to platform 2 and 3… no trains. I did see one over a little ways. That must be it. But how to get there? We asked a security guard who didn’t know English. But fortunately the people he was speaking to did. We were directed downstairs to platform 1. Once down the VERY slow escalator, we asked another security guard who said yes it’s platform one, but the train was going to Batumi. Batumi? “Where was the Ozurgeti train”, we asked. Platform 2, he replied. Ugh! Up the SLOW escalator again with 3 minutes to spare. Mind you, we are both slinging 50 pound bags with us. I run to the other side of the terminal, but Matt decides to stop and ask the desk clerk to make sure. “No Time, Matt!!!”, I yelled. But he’s a Brit, and they work at a different pace than impulsive Americans. Not only did he not get an answer from the clerk, he was directed to ask a different clerk! I feel like we are a couple on ‘The Amazing Race’.

….one minute to departure…

He finally gets confirmation that it is indeed platform 2. So we sprint in that direction. We hustle down a flight of stairs and fortunately see a train. We scramble towards the correct car where a conductor stands in the doorway. “Ozurgeti?” I ask. Nope. Its on the platform on the OTHER side of the train. Aughh!  How do we get over there? I thought he motioned for us to go through the doors of that train… but he didn’t, as that would have just been silly. He motioned for us to go under the trains through a tunnel I had failed to notice. (All this is happening as Matt is just now shuffling up).

Off we go down the tunnel stairs, under the tracks, and back up another flight of stairs. I look up the final flight of stairs and there are a multitude of Gypsy women selling snacks to passengers staring down at us. “Ozurgeti?” I ask.  “OZURGETI!!”, they yell back in unison. I scurry up the stairs and am helped up the last few steps by some police officers. Frantically I am searching for the correct car and realize I’ve run the wrong way. In my about face, I run past Matt, yelling for him to hurry up.

We finally make it to the right train, the right car, the right seats. Sweaty and winded, we finally are on our way to the land of OZ.

We’re off to see the Wizard,
the wonderful Wizard of Oz.
We hear he is a wiz of a wiz
If ever a wiz there was.

If ever, oh ever, a wiz there was,
the Wizard of Oz is one because,
because, because, because, because, because-
because of the wonderful things he does.

We’re off to see the Wizard,
the wonderful Wizard of Oz.

We’re off to see the Wizard, Judy Garland