As i write this i am on a flight from Tbilisi to Warsaw, somewhere between the middle of the night and early the next morning. Yesterday/today was my final day in Georgia. There wasn't too much more in Tbilisi i wanted to do, but the top of my list for that day was a trip to Mtatsminda Park. Mtatsminda Park is or was a soviet era amusement park in top of a mountain overlooking Tbilisi. Apparently it was the third most popular amusement park in the soviet union. With am endorsement like that, how could i resist? (It has since been updated, although i believe some of the attractions are original.)
To reach the park the is a funicular a short but steep walk from Liberty Square. The funicular steeply and swiftly lifts you up the mountain, past a monastery, to the top. The views are excellent, looking out over the city and also looking up at the TV tower, which is, just that, a giant antenna like tower on top of the mountain, which at night is lit up with flashing orange lights.
The amusement park is small, but lovely, set in an actual park. I arrived about an hour before the rides opened, but it was still possible to walk through the park, when i took photos of the rides being set up.
The park itself is clearly not North American, as evidenced by these rather Georgian looking mice.
I waited first to ride the roller coaster, which i ultimately did three times. It is a good coaster, with a couple of sharp loops, but it is very short. I was the first one in line and was only one of three people riding.
After that i went to the "ghost house" - one of those haunted houses where you ride through in carts on rails past all manner of animatronic horrors. In that respect it was pretty standard, but, honestly, it was a bit scary, only because i was the only person on the ride and good chunks of it are in the pitch blackness (and anyone who knows me knows i am afraid of the dark). And the ride was very long. I had a lot of time to concoct a horror movie scenario in which a lone traveler rides solo through a soviet amusement park haunted house, only to be detained in some subterranean "Hostel" or "Saw" like scenario. But none of that happened. On the whole, it was a great ride and succeeded in making me uneasy, if only for my overactive imagination.
After that i rode the giant ferris wheel (super boring, but great views), and a really fun octopus, spinny ride, on which it was just me and two young boys. I then walked through a forested area that was filled with animatronic dinosaurs that 'came to life' as you walked by them. I enjoyed that way too much.
The park started to get busier as i left, but while i was there it was quiet and i felt like i had it to myself.
After descending via the funicular i had some more eggplant with walnuts and some potato kinkhali, before doing a bit of looking in the gift and souvenir shops, including the comically named "Georgian Patriarchy Shop" and picking up some snacks from women selling on the street.
I spent the rest of the afternoon visiting cafes and hanging out at the hostel, chatting with the other guests, all of whom have been extremely pleasant.
In the evening i went to the Gabriadze Marionette Theatre. This had been on my list since before i left Canada. The theatre (located below that crooked clock tower from a previous post), does various shows entirely with marionettes and other types of puppets. The shows are in Georgian with English subtitles and all seem to be dramatic tales drawing on Georgian history. I saw "Autumn of my Springtime" which was s tale of love, death, poverty, and justice in post war Georgia. It was so beautiful. The only thing i can compare it to is a show by The Old Trouts, for those who are familiar with that Canadian puppet troupe. The show was sold out days in advance and i am very happy that i had a ticket.
It was my final night in Tibilisi, so i was not keen to retire to the hostel. I headed off to a place i had heard about but not yet visited. There is an entirely unremarkable looking Lebanese restaurant (i won't say where, only because i think others should have to find it themselves or be told by a local where it is). Entering the restaurant, walk confidently to the back to the kitchen. There is a dark flight of roughly hewn stone stairs heading two flights down. At the bottom you are hit with a blast of unfamiliar rock music and cigarette smoke and the room opens up into a cavernous space with low, arched, brick ceilings, brick walls, lit by green lights. There is a bar and the place is filled with young Georgians, looking like some combination of hipster, grunge, and metal, drinking and smoking. It is so cool, like something out of a movie i haven't yet seen. I made my way to the bar and ordered vodka (vodka is, by the way, cheaper than tea and coffee here). I didn't socialize much, aside from getting drawn into some dispute over cards, but i had a great time smoking and observing.
After that i hit one more spot, "Bauhaus" which is a cafe/bar in the old city, in one of the super grungy backstreets next to a lot that looks like it was bombed, but featuring some nifty graffiti. The place is spare, arty, and cool. There were a few groups of people in there are they were projecting silent films on the wall. I had another vodka and a cigar before meandering back to the hostel. I really can't get enough of wandering in this city - every time i turn down a new street i discover new graffiti or beautiful old buildings, churches, cafes...always something good and interesting.
Back at the hostel, i hung out for a bit, chatting, before getting about two hours sleep and leaving for the airport.
Today i have a short visit to Warsaw and then, reluctantly, home.