I almost missed seeing Gelati Monastery because of HOB’s hangover. We’d arrived hungry in Kutaisi, Georgia, the night before and couldn’t find a well stocked grocery store. This was not a problem as the restaurants were quite cheap. We stopped in a decent looking place, and since I couldn’t read the Georgian menu, I ordered several items at random which turned out to be; sausage, sausage and potatoes, hot dogs with a side of French fries and white bread meant to be dunked in a red sauce that tasted like a tin can. HOB washed down his meal with a jumbo beer.
After this nutritious dinner we returned to our hostel and washed some clothes (the resident dog humped HOB’s leg while he hung our laundry on a clothes line, but that’s another story). While I was getting ready for bed, a friendly young Slovenian woman who we met earlier in the hostel kitchen stopped by to share a bottle of wine. I declined and for the first (and only) time on our trip, I didn’t toss and turn with insomnia but slept straight through the night. HOB helped himself to some fine Georgian wine. Lots of wine.
Up early the next morning, eager to see the UNESCO sites of Kutaisi, I shook HOB to wake him. He groaned “I’m sick! I feel all hot and cold!”. More shaking, more groaning, and much whining later I got him to breakfast, only to see him rush dramatically from the table saying “I’m going to be sick!” Yeah, well, if “sick” is what the kids are calling “drank too much and have a massive hangover” these days, HOB certainly was sick.
Finally, I dragged HOB out to see Gelati Monastery. All the tourist literature implies that you can only reach Gelati by taxi, but we actually took a convenient local marshrutka (parked behind the State Theater in the main square). It departed at 11 am, and returned to pick us up at the monastery about 2:15 pm.
The Gelati monastery complex is set in one of those patented Georgian ultra-dramatic hillside settings, though we missed a lot of the effect because the weather was so rainy and misty.
The Infamous Blue Traveling Poncho (Hungover in Gelati Monastery Special Edition) pensively considering the fragility of human achievement in the shadow of the belfry.
The funny little Church of St. Nicholas dates from the 13th century.
Monks have lived in Gelati monastery since it was founded in 1106. The outhouse squatty potties on the monastery grounds unfortunately also seem to date from 1106 and have been cleaned perhaps once or twice since then. Nastiest. Bathroom. Ever.
I love this Persian door with the ancient text pounded into the iron surface.
The main building in the complex, the Cathedral of the Virgin, is charmingly detailed outside with glorious frescoes inside.
Can you get a glimpse of Christ Pantocrator up in the cathedral cupola?
The interior frescos were painted from the 12th through the 16th centuries.
The mosiac of the Virgin and Child flanked by Archangels c. 1130 is considered a cultural treasure. That bit on the bottom below Mary’s knees is painted because it was damaged in an earthquake. This mosaic is similar to other Byzantine mosaics we saw in Istanbul and in parts of Italy, but with a special Georgian flair of its own.
I was going to title this “The Procession of the B-Cup Christ” but I didn’t want to offend anybody. Isn’t that multicolored band under the angel feet the coolest?
I just hate it when I hug someone and my halo keeps smashing up against theirs.
The celestial finger of God shines down on club-handed Mary and basket-weave baby Jesus.
Holy spirit dove getting all spiritual over the ark of the covenant.
Judas hanging himself.
A line up of Georgian VIPs who I should probably know the names of, especially the little guy second from the left.
‘Bye, thanks for visiting Gelati Monastery. Next time, come see us without a hangover!
How we got to Kutaisi: marshrutka ride from Mestia.
Where we slept: Hostel Paradise Road. Price: €23 for a double. Recommended: yes.