Having settled into our hotel in Kutaisi, we went out for dinner. We had eaten nothing all day, except for some fruit which Vasantha had acquired in abundance, so we wanted something substantial, and were lucky to find a restaurant very near the hotel which served excellent Georgian food. I also for the first time on this visit had wonderful Georgian wine, though Vasantha has got comparatively abstemious and stuck to fruit juice.

He had khachapuri acharuli which he had been determined to taste, for it was showcased as one of the best Georgian dishes, a pastry boat baked with cheese and with an egg in the middle, a Caucasian version I suppose of hoppers. It was delicious, but so too was my choice, pork odjakuri, a stew with lots of delicious flavours, powerful and delicate.

The lady in charge was very helpful so we asked her about a taxi to take us sightseeing the next day, and she called round and found someone prepared to show us the four places I wanted to get to for a very reasonable rate. So next morning, after my coffee on the balcony and a filling if somewhat dull breakfast, enlivened by delicious peach juice replete with luscious pieces, we set off with a delightful old man called Paata.

His first stop was a spring to fill up on cool water, a phenomenon he repeated later in the day as did another driver. Then we went to the Sataplia Nature Reserve which boasted dinosaur footprints and an underground cave with impressive stalagmites and stalactites. Unfortunately I slipped going down and, though there was only a slight bruise, my slipper broke and I had to carry it, dreading going through mud in relative darkness with one bare foot. But a few yards into the cave I was pounced upon by a powerful Kazakh lady who demanded my slipper and thrust in a large safety pin which held things together for the rest of my journey.

We had a long walk back from the end of the cave path through verdant forest, termed Colchian after the country which Jason went to in search of the Golden Fleece. Medea the king’s daughter who helped him, killing her brother for the purpose, is celebrated in Georgia, despite her bloodthirsty history (later when Jason abandoned her for another princess she killed her and also her own children, to complete her revenge on the faithless hero).

After Sataplia we went to the Prometheus Cave, only a cave but heaps more dramatic than the one in Sataplia, named after Prometheus who was punished for giving fire to the mortals by being held in a cave in the Caucasus mountains. Nothing connects the Cave we saw to that Cave where his liver was gnawed by an eagle sent by Zeus, every day, to be renewed at night so it could be gnawed again next morning, but I suppose this is as good a place as any to associate with him.

From there we moved to religion, to Gelati, which has a massive cathedral which was unfortunately being restored. But at the very entrance to the complex was the church of St. George which had the most impressive frescoes we came across, and at the other end was the unusual church of St. Nicholas with beyond that the Academy with a restored roof and wonderful views across the valley beyond. To the right of these buildings was a splendid belltower, and on the left the grave of the greatest of Georgian kings, the 11th century David the Builder.

The first three pictures – if they all appear – and the last are of Gelati, including the belltower, and then we have the Colchian forest and dinosaur footprints, and two of the caves, the first evocatively lit.

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