Playlists: Our first argument :O
Today has been quite the up and down day. Keep in mind this post isn't necessarily complaining about everything as just walking you through it all.
We started off by hitting up the Turkmenistan embassy to find out they were on vacation...? Disappointed, we went off for breakfast to have the traditional Georgian dish that has been recommended time and time again: it's essentially a boat of bread, stuffed with cheese, baked, and served with a "raw" egg on top and a full spoonful of butter. It's the 3rd Georgian meal we had, and not going to lie, we decided we were over it... there's something weird about the cheese here... it constantly tastes "off".
We had to figure out a new place to stay the night since the Airbnb was booked up (not that we would've stayed there a second night!). We found a hostel across the street and got a private room. That Airbnb looked pretty luxurious right about then.
We hung out in the room trying to sort out Uzbekistan visas - our contact sorted it out for us and we would be able to pick it up in Azerbaijan on Friday. Only I started doing the math and realized now it has become a time issue and this was no longer realistic. We have come to the point in the rally where we physically won't have time to finish before having to be home unless we just constantly drive, don't tour, and skip any of the extra countries outside of Kazakhstan. For some stupid reason, considering this wasn't news, it bummed me out, and for the first time in the rally, it wasn't so much the deflation that was up until now of "oh this sucks" but turned into a whole new "what's the point?".
I showered (eek), and we decided to go explore the city. It really is a beautiful city and definitely has this uncategorized charm to it that other cities did not. It's been handed over back and forth so many times, it doesn't really know where it stands. With its cobbled streets, historical buildings, and so much new restoration, it continued to buzz throughout the day. We made our way over to the gondola and for 2GEL each ($1), we got to the top of the hill to see the ancient fortress. You can see this fortress from any part of the city, it really is central and is the heart of the city.
We flew the drone, wandered around, melted as per usual, and found a patio to have a cold beer. The patio lured me I with a happy hour milkshake sign, but they didn't have any?! Nothing in Georgia ever seems to be consistent or as it is written, that's for sure.
We drank our beer (didn't have the one justin wanted which was on every banned and every table in full marketing lol), and watched the leaning clock tower. A puppeteer designed it and everytime the clock strikes a new hour, there's an automated puppet show. We were super excited and definitely pictured something out of Shrek, but it was just a wooden angel that came out and rang the bell 5 times for 5pm. We finished our beers watching the strays, the tourists, and the locals and mosied on back to the hostel to charge things. We found a parking ticket (only 10GEL, so $5), because even though there has not been a single sign anywhere in the city, you have to purchase a "parking license" at the bank which is 5GEL for the month. How is that even worth it for them?!
We lay down because of the heat and the mood just started going downhill. We were approved for our Azerbaijan visas, but the entry date wasn't until Friday so even though it was all super quick, we're locked out of the country and are now wasting 4 days.
Not going to lie, up until now, I've been the chipper one. No matter what happens, I'd crack jokes or try to keep the mood light, and I was done. To me, this rally was about surviving the hardships that would have been worth it for the things we get to see in return. It was an adventure, but sight seeing, culture experiences, and a rally with other people. Because of the crap that we've endured and the now time constraint, our route is taking us solely through the country I cared for least with no guarantee we'll even be able to finish it. To justin, this was a rally. It was about surviving, and everything else was a "bonus", so he's determined and the country route doesn't matter as long as we finish. He's ok with driving 10 hours a day and not seeing much. To me, that's a "what's the point then?" So we got in a bit of a riff (our first one this whole trip!) as we wandered up to the other mountain to go to the Mtatsminda Park. I almost threw up as we were hiking up, so we had to stop multiple times, get water, and continue to "debate" our situation. A Mongol Rally wouldn't be a rally without wanting to give up at times and without its arguments. So I guess we were on the ball here.
We got to the gondola entrance and there was a HUGE line up with everyone smelling and sweating in 40 degrees. We stood for an hour, not really knowing what we're in line for. We sardined our way into the gondola and made it to the top, again, for just 2.5GEL. The entrance to the park was free but you had to top up a card for the rides because the top of the mountain was an ancient Soviet amusement park with rides that shook loudly, were faded, and looked like they should not still be running. So we walked around, took pictures, and all the cartoons and characters reminded me of my childhood - old Russian cartoons gave such a unique style.
By now, we were sore from all the mountain walking all day and my back started to spazz. So it was almost midnight and we made our way down, back to the hostel, out for dinner because we realized we hadn't eaten since early breakfast were we shared and didn't finish a boat. Oops.
We usually have a hard time finding a restaurant with the local cuisine, but now it seemed we couldn't escape it. For dinner, we randomly chose one of the many patio bars. It was an interesting experience.
1. Justin asked about the "home made lemonade vs Georgian Lemonade" on the menu. The waiter explains the georgian is from a bottle. Justin asked for the fresh home made one. I seconded that. Justin was brought one of those Minute Maid orange juices and I somehow ended up with a neon blue drink with a floating lemon and mint. It tasted like Redbull, which I can't stand so justin took it.
2. I then ordered a water at 5x the price because it seemed safest.
3. We found a sandwich section at the back of the menu so justin went with the chicken sandwich (basically looked like a BLT without the bacon in the image on white bread). I asked the waiter if it comes with fries since that image didn't have any and the other ones did, he said no. So I ordered the club sandwich which was more expensive, but I really just wanted fries at this point. White bread, chicken, tomato; comfort food.
4. We waited an hour for the food to come, and when it did, Justin had a grilled wrap of some sort WITH FRIES, and I got a grilled cheese sandwich with chicken and salami in it. It was good, but lol...we just don't get it.
5. I had to ask for ketchup or anything for the fries which came in a gravy boat? It was so funny, I had to really twist the fries to make anything stick.
6. We got the bill, 36GEL. He put a 100 in there, and got back 2 20s in change and no bill to do math for a tip. Overall, it was a very wtf experience with a very nonchalant attitude.
Really don't get it. Same with the Airbnb and hostel - if something was off, they just shrugged. Definitely a culture shock for us and it's made me think a lot about feeling entitled and such for what we're used to.