Tbilisi… nestled right there in the middle of the map, is it Europe? Is it Asia? Winding through the alleys in the Old Town, I am finding that it is both… and neither. Houses lean in over the cobbled walkway, paint peeling from ornate carved wooden balconies overhead. Wizened women sit outside their small shops, stringing together walnuts to be dipped in the sticky-sweet glaze for the churchkhela that hang like heavy garlands. Ahead, above the groves of pomegranate trees, the castle Narikala stands tall, presiding over the city, a fortress that still seems to protect the faded elegance of the homes that tumble down beneath it, spilling almost right into the Mtkvari River that runs with the melted snow of the Caucasus through the heart of the city.
Beside a bridge, I hear the rumble of music and dancing and clapping. At the Old House – perched nearly over the river – the feast is on – a true Georgian supra (seemingly the only place in Georgia where rules apply). Tables are laden with plates of food stacked one atop another, piled high with dumplings and khachapuri bread and tomatoes and cucumbers and fronds of tarragon. The Tamada rises and dedicates his next toast to those who went before, as the men stand and drink to the end.
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