Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Things about Georgia...

Observations on Georgia - Work in Progress

So, I've been thinking about writing this one for a while but I don't think it's one that I'll be able to just write in one go and so it has sort of sat on the sidelines.  With my lack of activity on this blog though, I think it's time to put it into action.  

I wanted to write a post about the things I've noticed about Georgian culture and things in the day to day that are different; not good or bad, just different.  I may write about them in a negative sense because they bother me but it's not that it's wrong, it's just not what I'm used to.  These are in no particular order.  

- Every road is an F1 race.  We had read that Georgian roads are some of the most dangerous in the world.  We have seen that this is very true, and it's not because of the conditions of the road....well, it's not JUST because of the conditions of the road.  Georgians speed EVERYWHERE!  

- Be prepared to never be listened to when offering directional advice.  It doesn't matter if you're asked to look up directions on google maps...they won't listen to it/you anyways.  

- Have you ever wondered what a car with no bumpers looks like?  Well, come on down to Georgia and see for yourself.  Maybe as a sign of how often there are traffic accidents, seeing cars driving around without any bumpers at all is something you get used to pretty quickly. 

- When ordering at a restaurant, food will come out when it is ready, not all together.  So be ready to eat parts of your meal all at different times.  This also means that at big meals, you should not fill up on a dish you like; there is always more and better dishes coming. 

- As a part 2 to the previous one, when you believe the table is full and there can't possibly be more dishes coming....there are...and they're the best ones.  Except for ajapsandali (an eggplant stew)'s always been the highlight every time we've had it.  

- When we moved to Slovenia people always asked us how the food was and we always said "meh".  It wasn't just wasn't memorable aside from 1 or 2 things.  This is not the case with Georgian food because it is FANTASTIC!

- Georgians are very proud of their water.  If you ask if you can drink the tap water, they will say yes of course.  Rae and I most definitely had a different experience and so many of the people visiting that we spoke to also had mystery stomach bugs when they first arrived.  I think this is location specific but if your place is a new build in a good part of the city you're probably fine but bottled water is super cheap so if you're here for a short time it might not be worth it to risk it. 

- Cashiers will mostly refuse to take money from your hand.  You must place it in the money dish on the counter, they will pick it up and then put your change in the same dish after.  We've heard this is not related to covid but because of superstitions around handling small coins. 

- There is a real love for firecrackers and fireworks here.  You WILL hear them every single day, it doesn't matter what time of year it is.  We've also been told to not try and sleep early on new years because it won't happen.  The city becomes a war-zone with all the firecrackers going off.  

- A horn honk can not go unanswered.  It must be answered by a longer, more aggressive honk.  

- Do not wait at lights when driving....for any reason whatsoever.  Every single other car on the road will begin honking at you the second the light turns green and if you will come from miles around just to honk /s.  

- Georgians are not an early morning people.  Restaurants open for breakfast later, work starts later, rush hour starts later, etc etc.  It takes a bit to get used to but I honestly love it.  

- A bit of a follow up to the last one; because they aren't early morning people it would make sense to think that they are late night people and this is very correct.  Go to any restaurant late day and it will be packed.  Go to Mcdonalds at 10pm for a snack on your way home and it will be full of families with toddlers.  

- Have you ever gone to a pharmacy and wanted to buy just one pill, bandaid, whatever.  Well, in Georgia, you can!  It always shocks me when you go in for something and they ask how many you want.  Want just one bandaid?  They'll pull it out of the box and give it to you.  Want just one pill?  They have the scissors handy to cut out one.  Although to be fair it has definitely come out handy for us and I have started to really appreciate this.  

- Walking anywhere is a minefield...with all the street dogs, there is a lot of dog crap all over the city.  As i'm gawking at everything around us, Rae is constantly reminding me to watch out where i'm walking.  It's a real issue of making sure you don't step in a nice surprise.  

 - Districts.  So, you've just arrived to the city and your glasses break...shoot, well now what?  How about you go to the eyeglasses district!!!  We're not sure if it's purposefully set up this way but it seems like when you find one store selling a certain type of item, there will be another 50 stores on that street selling the same thing.  We've started calling it districts after the Simpsons when Homer goes to the "Hammock District".  You find one glasses store, there will be another 50 within 3 blocks.  You want your car oil changed?  Well, just go to the car oil change district.  Lighting for your home?  Go to the home lighting district!  It makes it quite easy to find an item and then compare prices.  

- Which brings me to pricing...doing due diligence is a must.  Never buy on the first sighting.  So many times we bought things when we first arrived only to find the exact same item very close for half price.  It pays to shop around.  

- Have you found an item that you like in the grocery stores?  Normally, you're like 'oh great, I'll grab the same thing next week.'  That kind of attitude will leave you unhappy since here if you find something you like you'll never know if it will even be there next week so STOCK UP!  Who cares what it looks like when you walk out with 8 bags of your coffee can't take those chances. 

I will post more and edit this as I notice them through our time here. 

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Good weather?

A long time coming

So, it's been way too long since I last updated this post and for that i'm sorry but honestly, this is my blog so just back off ok!  

the view from a hike above the city

 Our October was pretty full of stuff to see and do around our temporary home and we got to see a lot of the central and eastern part of this country.  It is NOT like Slovenia though where you can drive across the country in 2 hours and I think that people believe that it's small only because its beside monstrous countries like Russia and Turkey.  I can tell you though, that this country is deceptively large.  We have started to look at some locations in the western half of the country and realize that the drives to some of these locations will definitely necessitate overnight stays at the very least.  I guess this is one of those things that we just didn't really think about beforehand as we assumed that travel would be much quicker than it is, especially with Georgian drivers believing that they are in an Formula 1 race at all times.  


Rae and I in front of Gergeti Trinity church in Stepantsminda

As full as our October was though, our November was the exact opposite.  We were very quiet in November, only making small excursions around the city and enjoying the beautiful fall weather here.  Speaking of the weather, there are definitely things about the weather here that we haven't been enjoying.  For one thing, the WIND!  It is unlike anything we've experienced before and I imagine it's like living in Lethbridge but much worse (as bad as living in Lethbridge already is).  On the days that its windy, it is relentless.  It seems that it comes and goes for now but when its windy, it can easily sustain 70km/h for days at a time and it definitely takes our enjoyment of the country down a few notches.  On one of the days that it was so windy I was talking with our neighbour who mentioned that this was nothing yet and to wait for February and March where it's I guess we have something to look forward to!?!?

Our meal on one of those windy days.  You can see the cucumber and tomato salad with walnut sauce on the right along with a dish with the spoon thats called Ghomi.  A cheese dish with chicken. 

On one of those windy days we decided to spend the day inside at a museum suggested to us by a friend.  

Traditional Georgian swords and a royal garment (recreation from a movie)

Mtatsminda Park

While in Tbilisi, you can look up at any point in the city pretty much and see a large ferris wheel and tv tower.  This is Mtatsminda Park, a popular location for people in Tbilisi to spend the day.  There are loads of restaurants and rides for families and just a nice park to chill out in and spend a day.  The park is accessed by a funicular, bus, or hiking.  We had kept on saying that we were going to go and check it out but had still not made it up until late November.  So, on November 20th with a beautiful 20 degree day, we decided to finally head up to Mtatsminda park and see what the fuss was all about.  It was nice to chill out in the sun in a fall that was warmer than normal.  It was definitely a plus to be able to see that we had escaped a terrible start to a canadian winter with all the pictures we had been seeing of the snow that western canada had already been hit with.  

The ferris wheel in Mtatsminda park

Monthly breakdowns: 
I promised with my last update that I would post our tracked expenses per month.  It's been a while since I wrote that but I now have data from two months and they couldn't be more different from month to month.  October was the month that we moved into our apartment though and so there were a lot of costs of buying things for the apartment to make it feel more comfortable; better cooking utensils or things that were missing, better bedding, water filter, etc.  We also did a lot of traveling around in October which adds to the monthly costs.  I think it is a good look at what it costs to move to a country with a cheaper cost of living then Canada and can show how accessible it is to move somewhere else if you have the ability to make a bit of cash while traveling. 

I've broken it down into multiple categories based on the type of purchase.  
Housing - includes rent, cell bills, all related bills for the apartment (gas, electric, internet) and supplies that we purchase for the house.  
Food - This may have some overlap with housing as sometimes we purchased items for the house along with our groceries but they weren't edible but we tried our best to keep it separate.  This also includes nights out for drinks with friends.  
Personal Care - Medical, hair, clothing, skin care, or other personal costs. 
Transportation - Includes metro, airline fees if we had any, private drivers, and car rentals (uber/bolt/yandex)
Entertainment -  Includes trips, movies, live theater, and other types of things.  

NOTE: All prices are in Georgian Lari but the conversion is around 2gel for 1cad. 
Here's the breakdown for October: 
Housing - 2050.79
Food - 1864.25
Personal Care - 167.20
Transportation - 427.40
Entertainment - 890
This is a total of 5399.64GEL which translates to 2648.52CAD at the current exchange rate.  
We spent a bit too much on food as we were eating out a lot at first and we spent a lot on housing as we bought the things needed for day to day life but as you can see, it still is less than you would spend monthly in Canada. 

Here's the breakdown for November: 
Housing - 1576.25
Food - 1019.33
Personal care - 95.77
Transportation - 69.10
Entertainment - 10
This is a total cost of 2770.45GEL which translates to 1358.91CAD.  You can see that November we slowed down a LOT.  We got COVID and that put us on our butts for 2 weeks and the days where it was very windy or colder we didn't do a whole lot.  

And that's it for this time! 

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