So, after consuming two cans of German Thai Suppe, the group migrated towards the touristy part of town (Which is to say away from the crumbly, abandoned train yards of Max and Bill’s ElectroDepo apartment). We went to this nice Irish Pub where we met much of the rest of the group and I suffered the pains of unrecognition from many TLG friends experiencing beardless Raughley for the first time.
The place was largely unremarkable, but a band was playing and after a good while, Bill, Daryl, and Rick jumped up and borrowed their instruments for an impromtu concert. I sang some sick back up vocals and, when they took the stage for one last song about an hour later, I joined them on drums. It was a rocking time and I thought we did quite well, for a band who has never performed together before and who doesn’t necessarily know the songs they’re playing!
Pauli and I got a ride home from Shota, my host brother’s painter friend, only to meet Ilya and Koba in my apartment. Koba and Shota ran out for Whiskey and Beer and forced us to sit at the table with them and toast. Pauli and I protested that we were already drunk and had to wake up early. “No one wakes up early! This is Georgia! We maybe open our eyes at ten and then get up at eleven!” proclaimed Koba in his accented English.
“No!” we protested, “No whiskey! We have to get up to meet people at ten thirty down town. We have to leave at 9:45–we are going to the bath houses!” So the boys acquiesced and only made us drink beers. Great.
The next morning, Pauli and I met Max, Bill, Marissa, Cristen, and Stephanie downtown to go to the Georgian bath house. Now, I’ve been to these baths before and let me just say they are so awesome. Anyone who comes to visit me in Tbilisi can expect an excursion to the baths.
We walked across the bridge to the baths and I began negotiating with the woman for our accommodations. She brought us to a large, well-tiled room with a hot sulfur bath and marble slab in one room and two leather couches in the other. She told me the price in Russian and the boys looked around, surveying our chambers. As the woman prepared to leave, she gestured to the girls still standing in the hall and said, “Aren’t they coming in? You’re all bathing together, right?”
“Uhh, I don’t think that’s true at all,” I thought, telling the woman, “Let me ask.” I translated the woman’s question and the girls got this look of horror (probably because they assumed I was trying to suggest, “Hey baby, how ’bout you and me take a bath together, what do you say?”) and politely declined my seemingly lurid invitation.
So the time came for Max, Bill, Pauli, and I to get very comfortable with each other. Nothing like taking a bath with three other butt-naked dudes to bring you together. Now, I cannot tell a lie, the sulfur bath was too hot and we all wussed out by the time the guy showed up for “Scrub y Massazh” and retired to the antechamber with leather couches to cool off. As we’re sitting there, chillin’, naked, a loud knock comes on the door and the Masseur comes in. He’s this wiry old guy with some sort of boxerbrief/swimtrunks on and bearing the tools of his trade: a bucket, a scrubby-mitten, towels, and a cloth balloon with soap in it (Gimme a break, that thing is tough to describe!).
I chat with him and he tells me how it’s gonna go down. Max is up first and we take turns being scrubbed then massaged. It was marvelous. I won’t go into all the icky details about how the dead skin was rolling off our bodies or how the man brutally slapped us on the backs (and if you think those sound bad, apparently the girls’ masseuses were FAR more rough–almost sounded like some sort of…I’ll just leave it at that for Nana’s sake).
By the time we were done being scrubbed and massaged, we felt like heaven. Nothing beats a good full-body exfoliation followed by a massage and a sulfur soak. Nothing.
After breaking for naps and recuperation, the gang met up again at a fancy place in Old Tbilisi called Konka Station. A projector was playing a DVD of the Greatest Hits of Bonnie M, this group from the 1970s who is apparently very popular in Germany. Just ask Pauli, he knows all their songs!
I joke, but by the end of the evening (and 1.5 loops of the DVD), Bill, Pauli, and I were singing harmonies along with Bonnie M’s Greatest Hits. Max and Bill had been constantly singing Ra Ra Rasputin for days–apparently they heard it on the Marshrutka to Tbilisi. To finally be treated to the musical AND visual delights of Rasputin and Bonnie M was more than I could have possibly hoped for. Seriously. Click that link–you will absolutely not regret it. It is stuck in my head, always. “Ohhhh, those Russians!”
One last thing–for lunch after the Baths we found this Georgian restaurant and ordered khatchapuri. Lauren, as I promised, here is a photo of some Khatchapuri po-Ajarski!
I will leave you, dear friends, with one last treat: Daddy Cool, by Bonnie M.