Sunday, May 27, 2012

Svaneti, Part 5: Mestia, Subpart A

Mestia, Svaneti.

Kate, Sandy, Sparrow, and I arrived in Mestia around 10ish a.m.

First impressions

A bit cloudy. Noise from construction. Muddy, gravelly roads from construction and maybe snowmelt. Buildings in various stages of completion. Brand-new hostel on the main square, adjacent to a brand-new tourist office. Small park in the square. Mountains surrounding.


The marshrutka driver who'd brought us up from Zugdidi had attempted to steer us to his (or his employer's) guesthouse, but we weren't in love with its curb appeal and we had him turn around and return us to the town square.

We walked into the government tourist office and asked about a list of guesthouses, to which the rep responded, "Go to the guesthouse your driver suggested. It is a good one."

We explained that we'd already considered and rejected it, thanks. We sought a place with a view and that wasn't too far out of town. We boiled our options to two choices - the new Hostel Seti next door or a guesthouse (I'll call it Zara's) that was in town and had a view. Two of us looked at Seti and then two of us looked at Zara's.

I didn't go inside, but Sparrow and Kate reported that Seti had a nice view, plentiful bathrooms, and everything was very clean and new. Kate and Sandy then walked up to Zara's, about 1/4 mile from the town center, and reported that it had a nice view, spacious rooms with a homey feel, but only one bathroom.

Seti had no meal plan and it was 20 lari per person. The four of us would share a room.

Zara's did have a meal plan and it was 40 lari total per person, 20 for the bed and 10 for each of two meals. We'd sleep two people to a room.

We agreed to go with Zara's and walked to her place.

Mestia, Svaneti. View from guesthouse.

Beautiful view from both an open balcony and an enclosed one. In a country that is still mad for wallpaper, I loved the painted walls, one bedroom in a pristine white, the other in a spring-fresh pink. Sparrow's and my bedroom was huge, with a large dining room table. A couch and two upholstered chairs were grouped around a coffee table.** The windows looked out onto splendid mountain views. Sandy and Kate shared the pink bedroom, which they entered from the open balcony. 

Mestia, Svaneti. One of our guesthouse rooms.

Turned out the food was only so-so. The only bathroom seemed to be shared also with the family, which meant 8 or so people used the same facility. That was a bit of a bummer at times. Plus the water was shut off twice, something that apparently never happens. Who knows.

Mestia, Svaneti. View from guesthouse.

"Zara" was quite pleasant and helpful in sharing information, especially when we needed her assistance in tracking down Kate's camera after our return to Tbilisi. But the reason I'm not sharing her guesthouse name is because of the weirdness that occurred just before we checked out. "Zara" had explained that Svans are proud of the fact that they are "pure," as they don't mix (i.e. marry) with other groups like the rest of the Georgians, as such practices are "bad." Svans are admired, for example, for their white skin and fair hair and eyes.

This was off-putting.

Mestia, Svaneti. View from guesthouse.

A walk around town

Shortly after we arrived at Zara's, it began to rain, and the four of us took it as a sign that we were supposed to just relax, drink some coffee, consume some munchies, and enjoy the view. No feeling guilty for thinking we should go out and explore, hike up a mountain right away, or otherwise do something.

Sometimes we need such reminders.

Kate doesn't need any such reminders. She contentedly opened up a book, stretched out on her bed (which faced a beautiful view through the window), and commenced to reading, fully aware that a nap might ensue.

When the rain stopped, Sandy, Sparrow, and I set to scoping out Mestia.

We ran into a self-proclaimed vagabond from - where? Maybe it was the U.S. Or Mexico. Or Poland. It was all a bit vague. But his intent is to be the best photo-journalist in the world, as soon as he bought a really good camera. Or maybe he already has one. And he was on his way to meet someone - a stranger - with whom he'd hike up a mountain from Mestia. At 5:00 p.m. But in the near future, he had an appointment to get smuggled into Syria. And somewhere else, maybe Afghanistan for a chat with the Taliban, I don't remember. But by the way, he'd been robbed just the night before. Or two nights before. And all of his money was stolen and all he had left was 10 lari. He guessed it was because he'd fallen asleep on a park bench in Tbilisi after he got so wasted drinking. But he'd be OK; he always was.

.... So anyway, we continued our walk.

**Wait!!! Look at the photo of that bedroom. There was no coffee table. Just goes to show the unreliablity of memory or so-called eyewitness reports. There would have been a coffee table between the couch and the two chairs in an American setting, so obviously my brain "auto-corrected" my memory. Sheesh.

No comments: