20/8/10 - 28/8/10 27 °C
Tbilisi has some of the worst pavements I've ever seen; not only are they broken and have massive holes in them but in places they are quite severly buckled, making it often easier and safer to walk in the roads. Well it would be if every driver in the city didn't drive like a boy racer, women included. This makes crossing the road a bit of a chore. You can try and stare them out and win the right to cross the road, but the odds aren't always strong enough to risk it! This isn't done with an air of aggression at all, just bravado and incredibly bad parking. Thats not to say the whole city has broken pavement as there are certainly some posh parts here, but even in the so there is a general lack of health and safety standards - the steps of an underpass in the main square had unused buidling materials scattered on them after the workmen had gone home.
You might be thinking that this concern with health and safety is not like me, but if you read my last blog you will remember that I had a mangled knee and ankle so I was more concious of all these things. Not concious enough though, as 2 days later I was hobbling along a comparatively flat pavement ( have you noticed a pattern beginning to emerge here?) when all of a sudden the ground gave way and I realised my leg was trapped up to the knee in a swivelling sewerage cover! I was pretty quickly hauled out by two passers-by but unfortunately my good leg was a bit mangled up as well. The evening before we had walked around Tbilisi with some other travellers we'd met and were joking about the massive number of chemists in the streets which they kept pointing out to me incase of further injuries. Do you think I could find one then to get something to disinfect my injuries? Suddenly they had disappeared! I just hobbled back the way we'd come till we were back in the land of the chemists and then went back to the safety of my bed, muttering and sniveling about it always being me.
The next day I managed to pluck up enough courage to walk the streets again and then spent the next couple of days walking around Tbilisis feeling odder and odder until I realised that I had a temperature and that my original knee injury, which I hadn't really taken seriously , was infected.
It did make for interesting experiences on the Metro though. Tbilisi has a small Metro system left over from Soviet times, which has some of the longest escalators I've ever seen. You get vertigo just standing at the top of them. They are also quite scarily fast, but still it takes ages to get down to the bottom. In typical Georgian style, instead of a frantic rush of people walking down there, people just stand, or even sit quite happily, unless they are in a real rush, but its a rare sight. The air isn't the greatest down there, and in my slightly feverish state it all seemed very strange and echoey. The trains are pretty efficient and quick though.
The buildings in Tbilisi, like the pavements, are often very dilapidated but beautiful. Most houses have balconies, either wooden or metal and I imaginged the people living in the ones in the old part of the city were fairly poor. Thats until you realise that many of them have some pretty posh cars parked outside and then when you look in through the courtyards you realise that they are in better condition inside. Its hard to describe, and I haven't seen it anywhere else like here, but its a sort of mixture between poverty and shabby chic and also a strange sort of mixture of beauty and ugliness. There are some seriously big buildings here as well and second time aaround, I'm enjoying it all a lot more. Especially now I can walk (though I do have another injury which you'll hear about later on).
I spent a few painful days here, looking around, trying to buy difficult things like memory cards and womens walking boot ( if they have to go walking Georgian women would do so in a pair of high heels or plastic slippers) and then we booked a ticket on the overnight train to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan which went from the biggest, fanciest train station, with shopping mall, I've seen.