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Author Topic: SC meets Moby in Georgia and we end up in ...Armenia ?  (Read 904 times)

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Online msmob

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SC meets Moby in Georgia and we end up in ...Armenia ?
« on: July 16, 2019, 03:07:46 AM »
I used to organise business meet-ups in Kyiv - but Russians ( esp men) have real probems flying there, so I started using Cypus and Geogia as alternatives - trying to combine heritage and wine sampling;)

It seems places I choose get 'difficult'for Russians ((  A flight ban was introduced on July 8th - but SC and I had laready arranged to meet during the trip.. and we thought it would be easy to book a ferry from Batumi to Sochi ...


SC arrived with a friend ( S) who had decided to come along and I booked them an apartment close to Tbilisi city centre and the Cathedral overlooking the city .. I attended the Good Friday Mass there on my last trip ( briefly)



Having had 4 hours sleep woke up to a Saturday am family get together on a roof terrace opposite andf loud GE music ..



Maxx came from Batumi and the plan was to go back to Batumi - but I suggested waiying another day - as I had just arrived from London early am and Maxx had had a long drive from Batumi - it seemed unfair to go back - next day and Maxx's Mac Book had packed up - so we left it in a repair shop - hoping to collect it the next morning ..

I had a hair cut at my fav 'beauty salon and SC had her hair trimmed



Sadly, although we waited - it was not ready and we set off to Batumi via Gori ( Stalin's birth place) rather later than planned

It was hot - but I have done this joruney before - with Maxx -  and the scenary is spectacular




We arrived in Batumi v.late on a sunday night and booked into a nearby hotel to Maxx's place and it  was 'fine' - save for Bed bugs ...UGH ..

We checked out and Maxx's landlord found us a mate who brokered apartment rentals and he did us a great deal ...  we booked two apartments at 20 / night .....   They were GREAT - but there were still workers on site - otherwise the price would have been more.. We had fibre optic Wifi internet, IPTV, a view to die for of the sea and moutains to nearby Turkey and the apartments were new and v.clean .







I could work and SC and her friedn wanted to go to the beach ....     BUT....  Maxx's landlord had kindly arranged a trip to the Mountains and and a Georgian picnic - and SC could not work' on her tan - which causes her withdrawal symptoms and sulks ..

I reolved to soften the impactt of such negavity by resuming a toast war with Maxx's landlord - which had been a 'tie' last time ..  Somehow or other - I ended up drinking his Chaca and he his homemade wine ...somewhat unfair ..





He teased SC and she VERY grudgingly -  admitted that - apart from nearby smokers - all was fine - but I was losing badly to Maxx's landlord :)


When we got back to the apartment  - I went to buy some water and decided I'd take the lift up using the other tower block .. it is only connected to ours on th first and second floors ...     My chipped key for the lift allowed it to work ..but it decided to conk out between the 19tth and 20th floor - although I only learnt where - after ..

I was not unduly concerned and called SC - who decided I was 'drunk' - well I was - and was messing about when I said I was stuck in the lift .. as she tried both of them in OUR tower block - and of course - they worked ;)



So, I called our Fixer and he understood my Russian and came with a site supervisor and - via my voice's voume - they - eventually found me - prised open the doors - and I jumped down 1.5 metres to the 19th floor -  I had to go out feet first as the gap was small ... felt like I was in a Hollywood 'disaster' movie ..

On my return to our apartment in the RIGHT tower, SC berated me and when the building supervisor pointed out I really WAS trapped burst into tears and gave me a big hug ...   For some strange reasn I slept like a baby and seemingluy suffered no side effects ... 2:1 to Maxx's landlord ...   and I have not touched booze for over a week !


I went with SC to the beach and slept under the pier one can see from the window - while SC 'worked'..



That evening, we walked from one end of Batumi to the other along the promendae - from the airport to the port - and I fiound the offices of the Sochi-Batumi Comet.. a hydrofoil that operates in the summer - taking five hours...  The offices were closed - but the security guy was friendly - and offered the Irishman  Chacha -  which SC quickly declined on my behalf ... (


Maxx's temporary notebook was loaded with windows 10 and vey slow so we tried to upgrade the ram - but it was not possible on that model and even loaded Ubuntu Linix - only sl. improved things ...  SC found her Sunflower seeds supply and all was rosy for her ..

The next day started with a severe storm - no power, n lifts and no water pump ..made me realise why living in the clouds had it's down side..  SC had withdrawal symptoms as no ability to work on her tan


I called the Sochi Comet frm and was told that the ferry was booked for nearly three weeks ahead - because of the 'flights crisis'.. I guess I should have seen THAT one coming

I spent hours under the pier  - in the shade - looking at  Kayak, Skyscanner and aviasales.ru for an easy way back to Sochi ..  only 200 km - by sea - distant.


























« Last Edit: July 16, 2019, 04:34:14 AM by msmob »

Online msmob

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Re: SC meets Moby in Georgia and we end up in ...Armenia ?
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2019, 10:06:26 PM »
Let's be clear.. This trip ..I knew that SC could not fly back before she came and I knew we'd find a way to get her back - I jusi had no idea that so many other Russians would also ignore the 'advice' that "Georgia is dangerous for Russians"

We loooked at getting the girls back via Turkey - a 26 hour bus ride to Istanbul and flying home - but my biz collegue found a route via Yerevan - the capital of Armenuia - and so the 'fun' began..


Online msmob

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Re: SC meets Moby in Georgia and we end up in ...Armenia ?
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2019, 01:43:59 AM »
The time came to depart and when the train to Armenia pulled into the station - my heart sank

It was an 'spruced' up sleeper from soviet times ((

S and SC had reservations in one cabin and I in the same carriage / car / wagon - 4 distant

Originally, I was going to get a later train to Tbilisi - but S was born in Azerbaijan and overnight refused to risk crossing via Armenia - she had talked to folks from there who had advised her it was unsafe..
I changed my booking to accompamy them ...  S felt reassured by that and SC was not looking forwardt the journey, alone.

S has a RU passport and we had tried to reassure her that meant safe passage.







Online msmob

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Re: SC meets Moby in Georgia and we end up in ...Armenia ?
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2019, 10:47:33 AM »
This was to be our room for the next 16 hours ..



The girls settled down



But we were quickly joined by a 4th person - who refused  - politely to swap to number 20 - we had 34 and 36 the two top bunks in this cabin ( Coupe) .. Turns out he was a recently retired Policeman and he was Russian - also heading to Yerevan to fly home to Russia - as were half the trains passengers  ..


S tried to bribe the conductor to put  a passenger - who was due to board later in number 20 ... He took the wine offered as a bribe ..


On such journeys - eventually the ice melts and the stranger becomes better known ... SC thought it would be 'real smart' to ask him about the situation in Georgia ...and of course he blamed the west for wanting to expand NATO in Georgia ..   SC was surprised when I explained that I was happy to chew the fact in the company of friends - not strangers ... and the converstation on THAT score died a death

Food was shared, but I was off my food - had had a tummy upset for days - and the food S had prepared - I just couldn't eat ..

At one of the stations, we had a long stop and Mikhail and I tried to talk and it transpired we could communicate in 'Ringlish'

By Tbilisi, he and I were 'friendly' and I offered to buy him a beer - there was no Restaurant Car on the train and when we reached Tbilisi - no sellers were on the plaform offering 'refreshments' ..they had been present when I took the train from Batumi- to Tbilisi in March


S was clearly worried about the border checks and this wqs made more complicated when just before the train set off .."passenger number 33" arrived and also was not like-minded to swap to 20 ..


S moved to 20 and I promised to look after her at passport control


I had no idea what format that would take ... would we have to disembark ?


Shortly after we set off I set my alarm for 1 am - the time we had been told we would be at the Armenian border and - we tried to sleep ... I awoke to the light coming on and a Gergian official checked the compartment - " Anything to delcare?" in GE, RU and ENG.... " no, Nyet" and he was gone ..  Light off

Starts to dose..

Lights on ..." Passports"  Georgian, again

On sighting mine, one officer says follow me and SC is scared I'm leaving - that there is a problem ... I hear the other guy tell her in Russian that as an EU passport holder - my passport must be scanned and I'm taken down the carriage ( car / wagon ) to the conductor's office / sleeping quarters ) where a third official scans my passport and stamps me out ..Job done..

I stop at the door to twenty .. open it, wake S up and tell her that it is "Grusinski pasport kontrol ..vse normalno.. " ... Geogian passport control - all's well ... and I wait for her to be checked ... then off to bed

JUST as I nod off - lights on .... and it is Armenian staff ..

This guy has a scanner around his neck and is not interested in the Russians - he only askes me how long I'm staying in Armenia ! .. Once stamped in - I go to S and she laughs - "I've already been done - no issue - all good and I get told to "get back to bed" by the Armenia passport guys !   I explain and they laugh ... "she's got a Russian passport - no problem"

Back to bed and I evenually wake up to an incredible sunrise and the MOST incredible snow capped Volcanic mountain is in view ...more later



Online msmob

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Re: SC meets Moby in Georgia and we end up in ...Armenia ?
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2019, 05:32:27 AM »
Early morning and it was hard to sleep during the night ..

SC was full of beans - well, Sunflower seeds ..




I looked out of the window as the first rays of sun appeared and saw a snow-capped Cone shaped mountain that took my breath away ..

The train's wifi was now working... and as we didn't have a Armenia sim - I was able to check and found out the mountain was Mt Ararat ... Where Noah's Ark ended up - after the floods ! ( more later )


We arrived at the suburbs of Yerevan and I saw a large military airport with RU planes - no photos ... I'm not getting arrested for spying ;)


We arrived at the station and we had two suitcases a couple of light bags of clothes and a bag of food that had hardly been ouched that must have still weighed 15 KG and took 2 people to carry ...



I withdrew cash to get Armenian Drams and bought tokens for the metro ...  I could not buy a rail ticket back - all full - so we decided to see the city ..

We ended up near Republic Square and I got direction to buy a sim card .. it was only 6 am - but the forecast was for a scorcher ..











I took 40 mins to walk to the MTS Armenia shop and bought a data only sim and shared it to give us all WiFi .. We now had Mikhael for company - and he also had a suitcase and bag - but we carried the food between us

We took photo of the Sqaure  and Misha had the idea to try and see if  we coud rent a room at the hostel to store our ample luggage ...



 

I rented a room for c.15 quid .. just over 20 US and got a private room - non shared ..the staff even lent us an second mattress

We investigated the city - thank goodness for tree-linded streets - but the girls and I were pooped and slept - after we had taken breakfast at a cafe and lunch, later, in an air conditioned place ...

I had downloaded an app GG and found the taxis were much cheaper than yandex ..


Mikhail's flight was two hours earlier so we got him a cab and I took the girls to the airport using the app..

Our driver was Armenian Lebanese and most kind and courteous .. He slowed so I could video Mt Ararat at sunset ..





The airport was FULL of Russians - most of whom who had arrived from Georgia and I helped the girls check in..  Only 1 Armenian - an airport member of staff - who checked boarding cards and passports at the entrance to dep pleaseartures gave S any 'issues' with her being born in Azerbaijan and when I asked him, "Is there a problem ?"  in English - he quickly waved them onwards and could not meet my gaze ....  I returned to the city by coach when I knew they were air-side and clear of passport control. 

On the way back I wondered why the traffic was SO bad and I was deposited back to Repbulic Sqaure with a concert in full blast




I went  to a supermarket - bought an Ice-cream and Tarragon lemonade and bed..

SC called to say they were safe in Sochi and I used Yandex to call a taxi for them and waited until she messenged me to say she was in the taxi and all was good ..I slept, wonderfully ..




« Last Edit: July 21, 2019, 06:00:49 AM by msmob »

Online msmob

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Re: SC meets Moby in Georgia and we end up in ...Armenia ?
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2019, 07:27:35 AM »
There are more photos to come from my journey back to Tbilisi, but I thought I would warn folks of a possible misunderstanding when ordering Pizza for more than one and less than three..

I was ordering 'two Pizza' in Tbilisi, in English ..

I observed a look of shock on the lass' face and M ..my RU biz partner went pale...

I went red..embarrassed at a reaction I couldn't understand and re affirmed in Russian..that I wanted "two Pizza " and the tenseness reduced..


M quietly explained my mistake...on leaving the shop .

You just called her a 'dim wit'...тупица..tupiz'sa...

Some members might find it useful to let a Russian speaker order in a Pizzeria...

I only ordered the Pizzas as the were sold out of Khatchapuri...



« Last Edit: July 26, 2019, 11:56:06 AM by msmob »

Online msmob

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Re: SC meets Moby in Georgia and we end up in ...Armenia ?
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2019, 03:10:33 AM »
Woke up after a perfect night's sleep.. well .. after SC had confirmed she was at home ..

My mission was to find a way back to Batumi and find some electronic componts for M..

I tried to check out - but the lady owner decided I hide a bowl - which SC had used the day before for Sun Flower seeds .. She searched my room - but not my bagsa nd I was insistent that I did not have it - nor was it borken .. I had to wake for SC up and they chatted in Russia - with SC MOST insistent that she did not take it and to look - elsewhere ..

The lady suddenly had an idea to look in another room and there was the missing bowl.. She apologised and offered her husband's services as a taxi to the coach stantion  ( Auto-vozhal) . They wanted THREE times what the GG app was offering so I declined ..  Being accused of something one hasn't done doesn't ingratiate me to prolonging the company of the 'accuser' ..

The taxi cost 75 c for a twenty minute ride !

At the Coach station, I saw the company offering rides from 1400 and went to book..

I met a guy coming out who said. "Bilisi" and I said. ""Da"  and "Skulko, pozhazulista" and was shocked when he said only 7000 Dram.. c.11.50 (15) .. When I saw he was leading me to a top spec Merc Vito Mini-Van .. I concurred .. hoping M would 'forgive' me .. but I wanted back ...

We set off and I wondered at my wisdom as the driver seeemed to be on a mission to break any record to get to Tbilisi.





Our driver set off N NW and it was a fast motorway climbing all the time ..  to Lake Sevan ( elevation 2000m).. about 50 percent higher than the tallest mountains in Britain ;)


Sadly, we stopped to fuel up at a crappy filling station - out of view of the lake - ( more like a sea) and we were asked to get out as, the Mini-van ran off LPG from ... Iran ;)... More, in a later post ..

20 mins and we were on our way ..into a LONG tunnel that opened up into a 1.5 hour. tortuous zig-zag descent through a National Park ..



We stopped at a supermarket.. I bought breakfast .. and found this thin bread with vegetables that tastes great.. I first came across in in S.Turkey




I was tracking our progress on Maps.me and we headed up into mountains, again and were literally on the border with what I assumed was Georgia .. it was Azerbaijan ..  These two nations have a history of skirmishes and they was a few miliary personnel to be seen..  Sadly, we  had entered dense fog and it was impossible to take photos :(

We stopped again for gas - literally gas - and had to get out ... for another twenty minutes.. I spotted a Georgian flag and realised the border was only 0 .5 km distant ..

At the border - like crossing into / out of Russia .. the driver stays with the vehicle and we had to disembark ..Unfortunately a large coach with Rep of China folks on board was in front of us and they took longer to process than locals or EU citizens - who did not need e-visas to be checked ..

The Armenian guys spoke better Russian rhan English..but they were not interested to question me ;)

We all hopped on the bus and a 100m drive to the Georgian frontier ..this time we had to bring our luggage with us and the Georgians processed the Chinese quicker - as they opened up more booths..

Again, I passed through, switfly, but the guy sat to the left of my in the back never re-appeared and after 30 mins waiting .. our driver cleared off - without him ..

I never did find out what the problem was .. He was Armenian  - but the driver got a severe bollocking over the phone about an hour later .. according to the Armenian lady sat next to me - who translated from Armenian to Russian..  The guy HAD cleared the frontier .. and the firm put him on a later bus..

Once in Georgia, the trip to Tbilisi took less than an hour and the bus stopped by the metro stn closest to the apartment I had booked for SC and S - before my arrival !

A Russian lady and her daughter had sat in front of me and they were taking another Mini Van service to Batumi - so I showed them how to get to Didubi - to the north of the city - where buses depart for Batumi and Russia .. it was were I had waited for SC to arrive in April .

 






« Last Edit: July 27, 2019, 03:23:32 AM by msmob »

 

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