I was completely stunned by the beauty and elegance of the city. Tbilisi had that wonderful organically-grown feel to it - little streets winding up and down hills, dusty, once-grand buildings with wooden latticework on the verandahs, grapevines, watermelon, lots of sun - 30 degrees most of the time. Some highlights were the good-looking and friendly (but not pushy) locals, who were practically in tears every time we told them we were from Latvia - because of the support Latvia has shown Georgia during the recent events; participating in the symposium with the most awesome professional Georgian folkloric singers, who despite their own obviously higher skill level, still gave us standing ovations and yelled "bravo! bravo!" whenever we performed; meeting a contingent of Georgian-singing buffs from England and Oz who always seemed to be on their way to the pub and who dragged us along on a couple of occasions; the amazing sulphur mineral baths which bubble up from the ground still hot and good to soak in; the occasional feeling that I was in Turkey, albeit a western and religiously orthodox Turkey; seeing how the Georgians have such a long-standing relationship with Christianity and observing how everybody integrates it naturally into their everyday: if I were Georgian I would be religious too!
Coming home was great as well - despite the 3am flight from Tbilisi - because I was hangin' out to see my boys and they were missing me as well. I had my suitcase laden with prezzies, of course, including ones for Jeremy, who was such a star while I was away, suffering through both roles of homemaker and breadwinner for a week alone. Not an easy brief. Without much ado I'll put up some pics - not too many of me in it but its enough to get a feel for this amazing country. I highly recommend it as a tourist destination - particularly if you have a chance to get out towards the Caucasus mountains. We didn't have this chance but hearing and seeing pics makes me thinks I will definitely return to Georgia someday.
Outside the mineral baths which were built partially underground. The first time we went some of the girls tried out the "washer" - a lady who scrubs you really hard - some of the skinnier girls in the group were bleeding afterwards!
A relieved "Saucējas" after our last performance. The grand hall of the conservatorium was an amazing space both aesthetically and acoustically. The viewers sat in three tiers: there was one more tier of balconies above the one you can see in the picture. Most nights the theatre was sold out - FULL of Georgian music students and folk music lovers.