It was not too difficult, though a trifle expensive, to go to Georgia on my return trip from Paris, or rather from London, for I went after Paris to England so I could have a few days in Oxford. Gettng from London to Tbilisi involved a night flight via Azerbaijan, which brought back memories of my exploration of that country in 2015.

The hotel I had booked in Tbilisi, down an obscure side street, turned out unexpectedly beautiful, with quaint splendidly decorated rooms. But tempting though the bed was, and tired as I was, I went exploring, to the main street Rustaveli where I got myself an opera ticket, for a performance on my last night in Georgia of ‘Manon Lescaut’. I went also to the National Museum and visited a little church which was much older than the building which now housed it. But then I was too exhausted to do more, and headed back and slept early, just as well for Vasantha arrived at five in the morning.

Fortunately for him breakfast was served only at nine, so he snatched a little sleep, and then we set off at once, to wander up from the centre of the city to its heights, finding our way up narrow streets and dropping in on two exquisite little churches on the way. At the top we found a massive statue in aluminium of a lady who represented Mother Georgia, and from there we dropped down to the Nariqala Fortress, originally a Persian citadel.

Vasantha, in a pattern I had got used to during our first trip together, in Laos, gave up when we got to the funicular and stayed there, claiming the walls of the fort were quite enough to see. I went down to the fort entrance, and climbed up the walls which afforded good views on all sides, before getting back to the funicular.

We had a spectacular ride down, crossing the river, so we then had to walk back across a bridge to look at a whole host of old churches and the history museum which is in an old caravanserai, though much tarted up. We had walked up first and then down, towards the bottom of the heights, and then Vasantha stayed put in a pleasant square while I crossed the river again by another bridge, to see the Metekhi church, on the site of the palace built when Tbilisi became the capital. But after I crossed back again, to the Armenian cathedral where I had left him, he had his reward for we went to the baths, which are a special feature of Tbilisi, celebrated by Pushkin.

I did not think them in the same league as the hammams in Turkey, or elsewhere in the Arab world, but it was pleasant enough, and certainly very good for my poor aching feet. The massage I felt was perfunctory, but I did feel better after it, and we could then stagger back across the river, to the nearest underground station to head back to the hotel. And by the underground there we had an excellent Georgian dinner, before collapsing.

The pictures are of frescoes and the church in the fortress, taken from the funicular as was the view of the city from on high that follows on the clocktower, an ornate gateway to a church and two very different attractions in the musuem, my state of exhaustion after the steam bath, the Metekhi church and a view from there of the river, and then more frescoes.

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