“M-TSKHE-TA,” I shouted, pointing furiously to my guidebook. It was our second day in Georgia and the plan was to visit this UNESCO World Heritage town only a few minutes away from Tbilisi. We were at the bus station and no one around us could seem to understand a word we were saying.
a cathedral whose name i can’t pronounce, in a town whose name i also can’t pronounce
It didn’t help that everything was in Georgian writing, which is totally alien to me. They don’t even use Cyrillic like the Russians and they have their own alphabet. We would have been toast and left to board some random car that could have been headed to war-torn South Ossetia had it not been for this helpful chap. “Oh, you are going to Skheta?,” he asked. Apparently, the first two letters of this town’s name are supposed to be silent. He directed us to a row of parked minivans. The most popular mode of long-distance transportation in Georgia are actually not public buses but these speedy contraptions called marshrutka – a legacy of Georgia’s Soviet past. For 1 Lari (approximately US$0.60), we boarded one of these to Mtskheta which was just 30 minutes away from Tbilisi.