21 November 2009
How privileged I am. Here I am in the old town of Tbilisi on a glorious day inGeorgia. The air is bitingly fresh and the sky is blue. The city is like a colourfully painted crypt, discovered amidst the rubble of socio-political conflict and economic uncertainty. Many people are poor, and yet there is a rich heritage of traditions, art and history.
Georgia seems to me a country struggling to emerge from the shadow of the world. There is a beauty here, and warmth, but the sun is shining on other places and nobody notices. Tourism is massively underdeveloped and yet holds vast potential.
Georgia is full of stories to delight. Tbilisi itself – which means ‘warm’ – is founded on a legend about a king who was hunting with his falcon. The pheasant he caught fell into the sulphur hot springs and by the time it was retrieved, it was cooked and ready to eat. So he ordered that a town be established around the springs.