This morning after breakfast i loafed around the hostel for a bit chatting with the other guests and then set off for the nearest metro station. The metro stations are somewhat reminiscent of those in Moscow, in terms of their depth and signage, though not as fancy.
I paid the 50 tetri for a one way ride (that's about 30 cents) and rode to the Didube stop which is where the main bus station is - well, it's not so much a bus station as it is a chaotic jumble of marshrutkas parks haphazardly over a few areas, with signs in the windows of the vehicles displaying their destinations, in Georgian only. There is a lot of shouting and horn honking. The surrounding area is filled with a sprawling market, the reason for my visit. The market is so big that i am pretty sure i only saw a fraction of it. There are stalls selling fruits and vegetables (nothing exotic, but everything here has that fresh from the garden taste), spices, nuts, legumes, meats, cheeses, bread, and pickled things. The picked things section was nearly identical those those i have seen in Uzbekistan and Russia. I guess former soviet countries like their pickles. I bought some pickles and received a bonus, pickled spicy green tomato as a gift.
There were also stalls selling clothing, candy, household goods ... Everything really. There were also lots more of those claw / prize machines, but these ones were stocked only with packs of cigarettes. It was a great place to spend time walking around. Surrounding the area were small, divey bakeries, hair salons, and shops. I settled down in a smoky, wood panelled eatery playing Georgian tunes from a juke box and serving bread and sausages and had some cheese bread and coffee.
After that i took the subway back i walked down Rustaveli avenue to the National Museum, which had some archeological artifacts and historic weapons and costumes; the most interesting thing though was the top floor which dealt with the Soviet occupation.
I then went for a Turkish coffee (or three) at a cafe and chatted with three very young, slightly drunk Georgian guys. One of them asked about my mugshot tattoo and when i told him it was Frank Sinatra, this drunk 20 year old Georgian kid said, "ah yes, Frank Sinatra. He knew many gangsters."
The coffee here is quite good. There certainly is the horrible Nescafe, but ther are aslo excellent Americanos, espressos, and every place also serves great turkish coffee, so there is terrific variety. You don't event notice that this is a Starbucks free country (though there is a knock-off Starbucks in a train car in Tbilisi.
This pretty much filled the day - plus a nap, dinner, and cigar. It was a bit of a quieter day, but very relaxing and enjoyable.
Tomorrow the plan is to take a trip up to Kazbegi for the day or perhaps over night and take in some Georgian mountain scenery.