Georgia Part 3 – Mestia and Ushguli

Day 140: July 30, 2018

Our sleep was very good at the last Airbnb. We both woke up rested and went down to breakfast: fried eggs, bread, veggies, cheese, jam and dumplings. This breakfast was much better than the previous day’s.

We returned to our room and finished packing. We thanked the host and headed back to the main square to look around. I was not looking forward to it as it was already so hot. Danny wanted to walk and see things so he was frustrated with my bad mood. We returned to the car and started our four hour drive north to Mestia.

We stopped for groceries in Zugdidi. There were no veggies in the store so we had to go up the street to a market. It ended up being much larger than we expected. We bought meat, veggies and fruit there then continued our drive to Mestia. It became very hilly and mountainous.

Enguri Resevoir on the drive to Mestia

We arrived at our Airbnb and were shown our apartment. Danny said it reminds him of his Nan and Pop’s home because everything is crooked. We watched some Netflix after Danny called his sister then we went to bed.

Day 141: July 31, 2018

I woke up early this morning to FaceTime Jacklyn then I went back to bed and we slept in. Danny brought yogurt and fresh blackberries out for breakfast. At the market we had bought one litre of blackberries for 4 GEL ($2 CAD).

I watched 13 Reasons Why while Danny went out for a run. Then we went into town to see if we could find the groceries we were missing. On our drive we found no grocery store only small “markets” which were similar to what you would find in a small town gas station.

We bought a couple of breakfast items then finally purchased a watermelon. There have been so many people along the drive with watermelons for sale. They were all huge so we thought it would be unreasonable for two people to eat that much watermelon. The one we purchased was smaller, but still too much.

The prices in Mestia seem to be a bit more inflated than the rest of Georgia because it is more remote and touristy. Danny referred to the town as a “gritty Jasper”.

For lunch we purchased some Imeruli khachapuri, round dough with cheese and a bean pie. On the way home we bought bread. I tried to buy one loaf with a 10 GEL bill, but the baker shook his head no. I had to go back to the car and get change as the bread was only 1 GEL ($0.50 CAD). It was still hot when he handed it to me. I couldn’t resist tasting it and then we ended up eating half the loaf because it was so delicious. It was crispy on the outside, but soft on the inside.

I watched more Netflix and Danny went for a walk around town. There are towers scattered around town that are connected to homes. They are called Svan Towers and were used for protection against enemies and natural disasters. The youngest one is 200 years old.

I called my parents for a chat while Danny made supper. Afterwards we went for a short walk around town before bed.

Day 142: August 1, 2018

We woke up around 6:00 am and got on the road by 7:00 am. We brought our bags with us because we thought we might end up spending the night in Ushguli even though we kept our Airbnb in Mestia. I slept for most of the beginning of the drive while the road was concrete. The road soon became gravel with tons of potholes so I could no longer sleep.

The road took about two hours to get from Mestia to Ushguli. There were a couple of stream crossings, but nothing impassible. About 30 minutes from Ushguli, two girls with big packs enthusiastically waved us down. We offered them a ride and they were very grateful. One girl was from Russia and the other was from the Czech Republic. They chatted with us about their trekking.

We stopped a couple of times to take pictures and Danny said, “Just letting you know this isn’t a direct flight.” The Russian girl also enjoyed taking pictures so it was fine. We arrived in Ushguli and parted ways with our hitchhikers.

Danny and I went for a walk around town to get our bearings. The roads were mostly too narrow to drive through. There were lots of Svan towers. Apparently at one time there were over 200 in Ushguli.

We went into a small museum which had a guide outside. The museum was the guide’s great grandparents’ house. We had to wait for our eyes to adjust to the dark before we could see anything. He explained that in the winter the animals would live inside the house with the family. Cows and bulls would be separated on the bottom. Sheep would sleep on the other side and humans would sleep on a platform above.

Inside a historical home, Ushguli

There would be a fire in the middle, but no chimney so the house would get very smoky. They would hang their meat inside and it would get smoked. Salt was not plentiful. There was a mug with a carving of the guide’s great grandfather and other dishes. There was an ashtray with a snake wrapped around it and an eagle on top. A tower would have been connected to the house, but it was destroyed by the Red Army. It was a lot more interesting than we were expecting.

Dishes inside the historical house, Ushguli

After we walked up a small hill for a view into the valley. We decided into the valley would be a good direction to walk.

Danny in Ushguli

First, we returned to the car and drove to find a guesthouse. The first one had no space, but the second one had a room for 40 GEL a night. We left our bags and drove up the road to the valley.

We parked near a small ski lift for some pictures and met a very friendly pregnant doggy. There are way less cats in Georgia, but tons of friendly dogs. We saw a truck driving up the road we were going to walk along and decided to try driving. There were lots of people walking and very few vehicles. The road took a bit of manoeuvring, but wasn’t awful.

We reached a tent café where all the other vehicles stopped so we decided to walk from there. We discovered the hike was to Shkhara Glacier. We followed the road which turned out to be the wrong way. Danny had “told me so”. The road ended and there was a steep drop so we went back down and along a narrow path through shrubs.

Hiking path to Shkhara Glacier

It was raining quite a bit at that point. It took about 30 minutes to walk to the glacier within the valley. The rain hadn’t stopped and it didn’t appear to be clearing. We took some pictures and headed back out.

Shkhara Glacier

The rain almost stopped by the time we reached the vehicle. We were thankful it wasn’t +35 degrees, but could’ve done without the rain. We ate our lunch at the car then drove back into town. There were pigs on the side of the road that I tried to pet. They smelled my hand for food, but would run away when I tried to pet them.

We stopped at a café for a tea and tart. Our pregnant doggy met us again outside. We returned to our room, read for a bit then played cards.

Around 5:30 pm we got hungry so walked up the road to a restaurant. No one else was there, but the lady tried to explain to us what she had. We sat and she fetched her nieces who were from Tbilisi and helping her for the summer. They spoke English very well. We ordered a cucumber/tomato salad, oskra? (A stew) and a meat khachapuri. It was all yummy and felt like home cooking.

Another couple sat down next to us and asked some questions about the town then we got chatting. They were from Romania and planned to go up to the glacier the next morning. They then were headed to Batumi. After supper we returned to our room to chill before bed.

Day 143: August 2, 2018

I didn’t have the greatest sleep. I wore ear plugs because it was quite loud in the guesthouse. We packed and left around 8:00 am. We stopped to take a bunch of pictures on our way out.

Other tourists had mentioned the road gets worse in the afternoon due to the increased water flow. This made us glad we stayed the night an could leave in the morning. The drive out took about two hours.

We drove into Mestia town centre to see if we could buy some cereal at one of the markets, but it seems to be non-existent here. We settled for some oatmeal packs.

Back at our Airbnb we ate the oatmeal and I carved up our watermelon. It is actually very tasty which makes me very happy. Eating that much meh watermelon wouldn’t have been as enjoyable.

We relaxed for a bit and then started to get hungry again. In the town centre we went to a restaurant and ordered eggplant with walnuts and khachapuri. It was all yummy. We returned to the fruit and veggie place we had been the previous day and bought tomatoes, eggplant, cucumber and nectarines.

We returned home and I chatted with my mommy while Danny made supper. We had chicken and rice with some sort of spicy sauce. I found it a bit too vinegary. Watermelon was our dessert while we watched some world history videos on YouTube before bed.

Day 144: August 3, 2018

We woke up fairly early and Danny and I went for a run before the rain set in. We spent the morning lounging then visited the Svaneti museum in town. There were a lot of artifacts from the church, but not much information on the people or the culture.

We ate more watermelon at lunch then decided to go out for supper. The place we planned to go had no free spots so we ended up sitting outside at a restaurant across the street. It was raining and the tent only covered half our table. We had khachapuri and stewed vegetables.

Khachapuri and stewed vegetables

Then we went back home to pack our stuff and get ready to head to Batumi tomorrow for some relaxing. We could have spent a few less days in Mestia and Ushguli. The scenery was very beautiful and I’m very glad we did get to see it. The roads weren’t as awful as I was expecting, but I could see how they could get bad.

M

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