“Now You Must Do a Triple Kiss!”

Following our excellent trip to Parliament and the delicious cheeseburgers we cooked, Cristen, Marissa, and I traveled to Kakheti–Georgia’s wine region.  I had been there before, but this time we were going to Sighnaghi, one of the largest cities in Kakheti.

We four were sitting cheek-to-cheek in the back seat for the duration of the two hour ride. Also, I'm not going to post the second version of this photo wherein Marissa and Cristen are smiling very nicely. This one is just vastly superior!

Four?  But clearly there are only three of you in that photo (Two and a half, I suppose).  Yes, dear, perplexed reader.  But you mustn’t forget that someone took the photo.  Who could it have been?

Why, Ilya, of course!! Ilya was quite hung over after drinking vodka and Babua's licquor with us the previous night and when he complained Marissa called him out for "being a baby!" He replied, "Yes, yes. I am babychild."

The first stop on our epic journey to Sighnaghi was at a car wash.  Georgians seem to really like washing their cars.  The other day while walking home at 11 pm I saw three men out washing their cars in the dark.  It’s odd to me.  Koba’s car was awfully dirty, though.

Koba was showing Ana (his wife) a video on his phone of their daughter Elena freaking out in joy and amazement during a previous trip through the carwash. Very cute!

As we drove we had a blast laughing and chatting in the back seat.  Sure it was a little crowded, but we’re all friends!  I drew pictures of llamas and camels on Ilya’s cigarette box to show him the difference and Ilya repeatedly told us, “I am killer.”  Happily, he reformed and  with a scarf over his head he became “Deda Teresa,” complete with a crackly old lady voice!  I so wish I had a photo of that.

We stopped partway to Sighnaghi for a stretch break and when we got back in the car the roads became windier.  This led to the girls and I feeling very poorly.  I swear it wasn’t alcohol induced stomach-aches, but carsickness.  By the time we got to Sighnaghi we all felt really quite sick and had absolutely no desire to even sample the famous Kakhetian wine.

I'm being a bit disingenuous with this one. We are not looking upset because we're sick (at this particular moment) but rather because Marissa almost killed herself coming off a three inch tall step (I did the same) and dropped her camera. We were trying to make it work again. It wouldn't. Also, just like my post that had a dozen bad photos of Yev, I'm hoping to include all of the best "Bitch photos" of Cristen and/or Marissa that I have. Get ready, because there are several.

As we drove around the side of a hill, Sighnaghi came into view in all its glory.  It looks like a beautiful Italian village, swear to God.  I had certainly not pictured this when hearing about Sighnaghi previously.

It really is a stunning setting. We also had perfect weather, which always helps.

Koba proved to be an excellent guide in Sighnaghi.  He knew his way around pretty well and did a great job pointing out the most interesting sites and translating for us.  He was also extremely generous (as I have found all Georgians to be) and happily paid for our tickets to the Museum and our dinners (I presume, though I never saw any money exchanged).

When we first arrived we parked outside the restaurant owned by Vano’s mother.  Koba told us that they would be cooking all day for us and that food wasn’t ready yet.  That was fine with us as we were really feeling ill.  Really ill.

We stopped in a shop to get some Sprite to cure our ailments (between mentioning Sprite now and Coke in yesterday's post, I feel like Coca-Cola should give me some kickbacks or something!) and I noticed that above a door, slightly above the panda and just to the right of the clock, was a photograph of Stalin saluting. Only in Georgia (or maybe parts of Russia).

Koba explained to us that Sighnaghi is Georgia’s “City of Love” and that couples come here all the time to get married.  He took us past the Wedding House and sure enough, someone was getting married right then.  We suddenly became suspicious of Koba’s eagerness to bring us to Sighnaghi.  Looking around we realized that our group consisted of Koba and his wife, Ilya, Cristen, Marissa, and me.  Funny, a married couple and two unmarried “couples”.  Thanks Koba, we appreciate your efforts!

Note: This is not my wedding, alas.

As we climbed up the hill to the museum, Koba continued to explain to us the history of the town and point out government buildings, etc.  The weather was so beautiful that we couldn’t help but be in great moods as we ascended the steps.  What’s more, we found something awesome awaiting us atop the hill!

We found the most adorable street puppy ever! He was eating some lobiani off the ground and we stopped to say hi. He was so skinny and small, but so cute. His little tail was wagging all over the place and although he tried to nip my finger, his teeth hadn't even grown in all the way yet. It was definitely a "Can we keeeeep him??" moment.

The Sighnaghi Museum is really nice.  It had so many artifacts from a long, long time ago.  (In hindsight, that last is maybe the dumbest sentence I have ever written.)  We’re talking, old stuff though.  Like 4th millenium BC.  It also had the famous gold lion statuette that is used by that one bank and as a symbol all over the place.  Pik Quinn and Pauli saw a larger copy of it in Batumi the other day!  They had a picnic with its butt.

We couldn’t take pictures inside the museum, but there was a balcony overlooking the Kakhetian plains below.  It was stunning.

Ilya snapped this picture of Cristen, me, Ana, and Koba standing at the balcony looking out at the mountains. Koba indicated to us which mountains were in Azerbaijan. For the second weekend in a row I was looking at mountains that were in another country. Awesome!
Ilya captured some great shots on my camera. I would totally live in Sighnaghi.
Those mountains in the distance just past the building are in Azerbaijan.
Contemplating Azerbaijan from Georgia.
Sighnaghi is dotted with spires and partially surrounded by an ancient wall. It's really scenic!

After we left the museum Koba went to pick up the car to take us to the wall.  While we waited for him, we perused the WWII memorial wall that listed the names of all the Georgians killed in the war.

I bet you didn't know Superman fought for the Soviet Union! (Is it tasteless to make such jokes about war memorials? Ah well.)
Ilya and I pose as supermen behind Ana, Cristen, and Marissa. Look closely at Ilya's face. Is that the face of a babychild, a killer, or Mother Theresa? You decide.

Koba arrived and drove us out to the wall.  It’s a crumbling but spectacular wall.  The tower closest to the road had a little entrance we could even go in, but Ana quickly scurried out saying, “Somebody did something stinky in there.”

That didn't stop Ilya from scaling it from the inside and popping out the window!

We walked around a bit more, admiring the vistas and killing time so that the food would be ready upon our return to town.  I am not sure who the wall was guarding against, or if it did a good job, but it certainly provided excellent views of the surrounding region.

Just lovely.
You know, I just realized that I haven't yet shown a clear photo of Koba's face. Fear not, dear reader! More photos are on their way!
Precariously standing on the edge of the cliff, all parties enjoyed the view.
There's Koba's face! Also, we never saw Ilya again. (This is one of my favorite photos of the weekend!)

On the way back in to town we stopped off to see St. Nino’s grave and chapel.  St. Nino brought Christianity to Georgia and is buried just outside of Sighnaghi.  A wedding party arrived to visit the holy site as well (surprise, surprise) and we even most auspiciously saw a dove walking around the parking lot!

It bodes well for our marriages, I think.

We stopped on the way into town to take more photos of Sighnaghi, but we were starting to get really hungry, so we didn’t dally too long.  We arrived back in the center of town and parked once more outside the restaurant.  Since the food wasn’t quite ready, we climbed to a balcony that jutted into the street awkwardly.  It was like an architectural non-sequitor in the middle of the town.

We sat around in the tower, watching the sun sink behind the rooftops and Ilya fiddled around with my camera again.  A little boy appeared out of a tree to hang out with us but he absolutely did not want Ilya to take his picture, despite Ilya’s pleading with him.

Hiding in the tree, the boy avoided the camera as long as he could. Eventually, though, Ilya did manage to capture him looking very forlorn with deep, sad eyes.

Speaking of deep, sad eyes, I think it’s high time for another “Bitch photo”!  This time of Marissa!

While I do my best to look fruity in the background, Marissa is looking pretty stone-cold. I think she was just hungry.

With dinner finally prepared we headed down from our perch and entered the basement of this fancy-looking restaurant.  A mini-feast awaited us!  There were vegetables and herbs that I had never seen before (think pickled leaf buds) and khatchapuri to start.  We had endless jugs of wine and mineral water too boot!

Finally! It took all day be at last we got Cristen to smile! Just kidding, she smiled lots, I just chose to omit most of those photos!

When the main course arrived, I was very hungry.  I can’t speak for everyone, but I think Ana’s dragon face should give you an idea of how excited we all were!

Two dragons attacking a triad of Mtsvadi. Mtsvadi are Georgian Shashliki or Shish Kebabs. They are effin' delicious and they come from Kakheti.

These had to have been the best mtsvadi I had ever had.  I think they were pork.  They were pretty fatty, but incredibly tender and juicy.  I am describing them in such detail, I think, because I am starving right now.  Inspired by the three spears of meat, we struck a pose.

"All for one, and one for all!" Also, Marissa is taking this photo very seriously.

Or two.

"One for each, to eat the meat!" You like that? I just came up with it myself!

Having had our fill of mtsvadi and other courses, the time had come to pull out our horns.  While in Tbilisi the previous day we had found and purchased three drinking horns.  Though we very likely got ripped off by the street vendor, we felt we’d gotten a reasonable price for them.  We washed them extensively before leaving my apartment that morning as they smelled like rotten cheese/terrible things.  Koba assured me that just means “they’re fresh!” and that the smell will go away after drinking with them around twelve times.

When we had arrived in Sighnaghi we were feeling under the weather, as I mentioned before, and so we hid the horns in the trunk of the car, under my sweater.  Koba was too wise for us, however, and he got them out during dinner.  It was time to do a little triple-arm-linked toasting!

Get Ready...
Get Set...
Go!

The most astute amongst you will notice that there’s a mechanical problem in the above picture.  If you follow the twisted arms to their respective owners you will note that if I continue to drink as planned, the horn will soon stab Marissa in the neck.  These are pretty polished, dull horns, but that’s a major impediment to drinking.  Needless to say, hilarity ensued.

We really couldn't keep it together.

It only got worse when Koba told us, mid sip, “Now you must do a triple kiss!”  We had no idea what he was talking about and therefore assumed he was telling us we should have a three-way make out following the toast.

If I had to put words to Marissa's expression right now they would be, "Vai me!"

After making fools of ourselves and laughing our assess off for ten minutes, Ilya and Koba showed us how it was done–true Georgian style.

Incidentally, it turns out the "triple kiss" is when you toast then kiss your partner on the right cheek, then left, then right again. That makes a lot more sense!

This was followed by a raucous hour of dancing to Georgian music.  Our meager American dance skills were put to shame by the grace and dynamism of our Georgian friends!

One of my favorite dance moves. Rivaled only by the bunny hop one.
We were essentially relegated to clapping on the sidelines.
It's a little tricky to get good dancing photos, but I tried!
In contrast, I offer a photo of my terrible dancing skills.
Ilya is reacting to my dance moves saying, "No, Raughley! Stop!"
The girls fared better than I, when it came to Georgian dancing.

After much dancing, we sat back down to a nice dessert of churchkhelas and to finish off one of the pitchers of wine.  As we talked and drank, Koba struck upon a brilliant idea, “Guys!  What if when we get back to Tbilisi we take twenty minutes at home to change, then we go out to the bars and clubs!”  He looked at his wife, Ana, for approval.  “Oh why not!” she said, throwing up her arms in mock-exaggeration.

Having had much to drink and dreading the windy ride home (the road had made us sick when we hadn’t even had any alcohol–we hated to imagine what it would do to us now that we were properly buzzed!), the girls and I were initially hesitant.  Clubs and Bars with Koba would probably be a lot of fun.  Then again we’d had enough alcohol already that this seemed like a clever idea:

"Look! I have a grape moustache!"

And so we left, mildly undecided as to whether we would be hitting the clubs.  We were exhausted, after all, and a good night’s rest might have done us well.  We said good by to Koba’s mother, a very kind lady who gave us presents (!), and hit the streets of Sighnaghi.

We were feeling really good after the feast and dancing and I think this picture captures the mood very well.
The adults in the crowd. Clearly not pulling any shenanigans in public.

We got back to Tbilisi and Marissa crawled into bed.  “I’m sleeepy!” she whined while Cristen and I tried to coax her out.  “It’s gonna be fun!  If it stinks we can just stay like an hour then leave.  Besides, it’ll be with Koba, and he’s awesome!”  She finally emerged from the bed and the three of us made a quick cup of coffee before meeting Koba again and heading out into the night.

Dragons don't Triple Kiss. Dragons breathe fire!
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5 thoughts on ““Now You Must Do a Triple Kiss!”

  1. PS you want to live in Sighaghi? My brother in law is building an apartment onto Aunt Tina’s house! Send me an email via my website and I’ll link you up-You Too Can Live in Sighnaghi!

  2. I am Georgian, and I have to say I get annoyed with tourists a lot..you guys on the other hand seems like you really did “as Romans do” ;))) drank, partied, ate, saw out architecture…that is how it’s done!!! Gagimarjot!!!!

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