I pick up the package lunch that the hotel prepared for me in place of the breakfast, and take a Bolt/Uber to the train station. The station is huge from outside, but inside quite empty. There is a café open. The train is waiting at the platform. It is a Swiss double decker train – Stadler – from outside exact the same I’m used to travel. At each door there is a person checking the tickets (which have a QR code) and comparing with a list on paper. I go on “first class”, which is 2+2 comfortable large seats. The seats are not aligned with the windows and I’ve very small view to outside. The train is larger than in Switzerland, like Soviet trains. There is “executive class” with even better seats and free drinks. The “second class” is 2+3 seats. The train is almost full, people bring lots of big suitcases that occupy the stairs and block one of the doors. They advertise on the loudspeakers the possibility to upgrade the tickets to business or first. When I walk and pass by the personnel, they ask me again, if I do not want to go on “first”. The train breaks constantly quite hard. Later I understand that there are many paths crossing the rail and cows or goats next to it.
The train arrives on-time to Tbilisi. Several passengers light up their cigarette as soon as they get off. The station is old. The only exit of the platform is through a door that goes into a small shopping centre. Outside is a big market, full of stands and people seated on the sidewalk selling parfum, fruit, towels… Nothing to do with Batumi. Slowly I can pass the market towards North, where the apartment of my couchsurfing host is.
I want to buy something to offer. First, I think about a bottle of Port wine, then about a game. I check where is a board game shop and go there. It is Sunday but everything is open. The sidewalks are uncomfortable, there is almost no crosswalks. The game shop is not at the address indicated into google maps. I ask and get pointed. It is behind a closed blue door saying the name of the shop, with the timetable next to it. I try the door, and the shop is open. I buy the game Codenames.
In a snack-bar I get something to eat. They weight the empty plate. I point to something, they serve, weight and note the current total weight. I point to the potatoes, they serve and weight, calculating the difference with the previous total. Each thing has its own price.
The buildings are old, without color. Everything quite soviet. The road I follow has the sidewalk in reconstruction, people walk on the road. The shops are one after the other, but grouped by specialties: 10 for automobile parts, later 10 for ceiling lamps, another 10 for house and apartment doors.
My couchsurfing host writes me saying she needs to bring the car to the mechanic and that the key is under the mat.
I get to the building of my couchsurfer. The block is fully soviet style. She lives on the 8th floor and inside the lift there is a box that accepts 5 and 10 Tetri coins (about 15- and 30-euro cents) to turn on the lift. The key is under the mat, I get it. Not easy to describe the apartment. A small labyrinth, with a room, small bathroom, kitchen corner and meal room. It is old and partly renovated. I wait for Tamo, who sends me a photo of her car in the garage with one suspension out.
I go out for a walk in the neighborhood. Tamo still did not come home. I look in google maps for a café nearby, there is none. I take a machiato in a stand next to a car mechanic and a big road.
When I’m back, Tamo is at home and cooking a soup. She is IT project manager in the Ministry of Health. She has a master in Public Health with accent on digital health. She would like to leave Georgia for a while to study more but did not get grants for it. The lentils soup is very good. After dinner we go with the Sisi – the dog – for a walk around a lake and then to up to the “Chronicle of Georgia” monument, depicting the Georgian history. It is full moon.