A quick google image search reveals that this is the scariest bridge in the world:
Clearly the Googlers have not spent any time at Electrodepo.*
Many moons ago, when everyone came to Tbilisi for Rob and Ashley’s wedding, Max and Bill rented a small apartment near the Electrodepo metro stop. Electrodepo is one of the two above-ground stops on the Tbilisi metro system. (Disclaimer, I’ve never been south of Avlabari. Maybe there’s one there.) From the station you can see a (defunct?) water park and a residential district a ways off. When giving instructions on how to find their apartment, Max and Bill would say, “Get off the metro, go down and under it, then you should find a creepy fucking catwalk. Cross it.”
So once you’ve left the metro station, you do in fact pass under it, heading towards the train tracks. During the day you’ll notice a driving school under the metro and, if you’re lucky, a train will rattle loose some dust or whatnot as it passes over your head. Head up the steps and you’ll find yourself on the bridge!
The bridge itself is made of crumbling cement from the Soviet period, no doubt. It has ominous metal sidings that seemed to have no purpose. After all they couldn’t protect you from the rain or wind and they were so randomly spaced it didn’t make any sense. Then it struck us, they were there to protect us from the possibility of a snapped electrical wire falling across the bridge. The metal sidings were all above Train electrical wires while the few that crossed over top of the bridge were below some low-hanging power cables.
The vast distance covered by the bridge brings you past many attractive sight-seeing opportunities. For example, in the above photo you can see the set of the famous made-for-TV movie The Boxcar Children Get Rabies. One of my favorites!
Other sections of the bridge cross abandoned train yards and rusting railroad tracks. Some of the abandoned trains are clearly being lived in while others seem completely derelict.
Sometimes, if you get really lucky, you get treated to the sight of a train passing by beneath the bridge. I’m really surprised that the bridge didn’t sway at all from the moving train. I attribute this to the fact that the train was really small.
I mentioned that the bridge is constructed mostly of cement. The Soviet engineers who built it clearly were not taxing their resources. The bridge has several gaping holes in it that have been shoddily patched with a sheet of rusty metal here and there. If you step on the metal just right it shifts and clangs for you. Furthermore, the bridge itself is probably only six or eight inches thick (That’s like twenty centimeters for you metrics out there!). It’s perched atop a dozen or more pillars that span the tracks. The stairs that lead up to it have no backboards and so you can see just how thin the bridge and the steps really are as you ascend.
Speaking of ascending, you really almost never stop ascending. You climb to the bridge, then fifty feet (18 meters) down the path you climb more steps. Eventually you rise two levels higher, until you are quite high up. Note that the safety of the bridge or really any of the other characteristics besides the height have not changed in this time.
When you arrive safely on the other side, the scenery isn’t much of a comfort. Descending from the bridge you arrive in an alleyway at the base of several apartment buildings. To your left is a park that’s completely overgrown with weeds. It does have a few seesaws, but my personal aversion to lacerations and tetanus prevented me from ever trying them.
Directly in the path after you get off the steps are two open-manhole covers. They don’t lead anywhere–it’s just a short drop onto a pile of garbage–but I would hate to stumble down them in the dark (Which has indeed almost happened). The last time I was there (which has been with surprising frequency) I noticed a few other mildly disturbing sights.
So one day, while walking across this bridge, my friend Carla called. She asked where I was, as we were supposed to be meeting up. I told her I was on the scariest bridge in the world and described it to her much as I have described it to you here today. I took photos of my environs (see above) and showed them to her when we met up.
“You are never taking me there. NO way.” she said upon seeing the photos. “But it gets even cooler at night!” I protested.
This inexplicably failed to sway her and so we carried on as if all was well in the world. After a few hours of chatting or drinking coffee or whatever the hell it was that we were doing, we met up with several other TLG volunteers to go to serve on a panel for group six.
Group six consisted of only 14 people, most of whom got placed in Tbilisi with a few in Borjomi. TLG had put them up in a hotel on Tsereteli St., which is a bit of a ride from other parts of the city. The hotel was part of an abandoned shopping mall and it had kind of a creepy vibe, but in a nice way!
At the end of the fairly successful panel Tamuna, TLG’s new orientation leader, told us that four of us could get driven home by the driver, leaving some of us to fend for ourselves. Knowing my way around the neighborhood, I happily agreed to walk to the metro. Besides, I live really far away from everyone else and I didn’t want to burden them with driving all the way out to Mukhiani.
Carla and a girl from the fourth group (and Romania!) opted to come with me to the metro. As soon as the driver left and Carla was on the hook for the metro I chuckled to myself.
Maybe that’s evil of me, but Carla didn’t know how we were going to get to the metro. Unfortunately for her (and for her promises to never go there, especially at night) the closest metro station was Electrodepo. The only way to get there was to cross the scariest bridge in the world. At night.
Martina was a champ, her only complaint was that Carla was shrieking too much as we walked across. Carla, on the other hand, hated the bridge. She clutched my arm and took small, cautious steps, screaming most of the way. “I hate this bridge!” and “Oh my gahd. Oh my gahd. Ohmygahd!” and “Oh my gahd, it gets higher??”
Once we safely crossed the scary bridge, I asked Carla, “See, aren’t you glad we did that? Now you’ve conquered that bridge!”
“No. I hated every second of it and I am never going back!” And she never has.
*Note: Other scary bridges I have crossed in Georgia can be found here.