Georgia

Gamarjoba! Hello from Georgia: Caves Near Kutaisi

Previously on Teawashere…I may have written a bit about my trip to Georgia here , here and here. Last time I mentioned that the train from Tbilisi to Batumi was cancelled and that we decided to go back to Kutaisi to do the things we initially had on our to-do list, but which were cut short because of the cancelled flight – namely, visiting two caves and two canyons. Let’s get started with the caves – Prometheus and Sataplia to be specific.

If you book an organised tour you can do all four in one day really and have a pitch stop for lunch as well. It was actually recommended by people we ran into from our walking tour in Tbilisi, basically everyone on the internet and also most importantly, by the lady at the tourism office. She didn’t question us though, just pointed us to the direction where we managed to cram ourselves with the 13 other people in the Marshrutka minvan that was meant for 9 and could barely cross our fingers and toes that the bus was heading to the right direction. We were left in a parking lot and from there thankfully another mini bus took us on to our first cave of the day.

The Prometheus Cave isn’t visitable solo sadly, so you have to join one of their guided tours, which means a choice of an overpacked English or German/Russian tour. Don’t worry if you join the German/Russian and are afraid to miss out on any info as it’s not really a tour, they’re there to make sure you make it out alive and just mention which room of the cave you are in and don’t even bother to tell people to not take photos using flash. I guess they’ll realise once it starts affecting the caves, and they can’t make much as money from it. The caves are gorgeous, but nothing I haven’t seen before in France and Slovenia. Also, I sadly no traces of Michael Fassbender being there (bad film, but hot actor nonetheless).

As we went to leave it turned out … the bus back was not coming for 1.5 hours and all the taxis on the lot were waiting for the smart people who had booked in advance….All of a sudden no one at the front desk understood taxi and us making a phone gesture. I don’t know how desperate we looked, but one driver and a woman came to us and the woman who spoke a bit of English explained the driver had to drive them to a nearby hotel, but he could drive us to the next caves back afterwards. Our angels.

The Sataplia Cave is very small compared to the Prometheus Cave, but the forest area it’s in makes it a must visit. You can walk around and check out the dinosaur statues (though a lot of them were broken) and people sat on them for photo purpose, despite there being signs not to so. The winner of the day was the viewing platform with a building that looks like it could be the headquarters of a Bond villian.

You would think a donkey would hit itself on the same stone twice … well this one does. We soon learned the bus didn’t go at all (?) or not for the rest of the day, despite us checking it earlier we will never know what happened. The people at the front desk were the friendliest though and called a taxi for us who brought us back to Just Inn, where we tried to communicate the drama to the super friendly owners, who didn’t understand a word but could feel our pain and shared their cherries with us.

Lessons learned: sure it’s adventurous to go out on your own and do as the locals, but if you are in a place for a limited time and for relaxing purposes then book a tour so you don’t gain a grey hair or two.

Next time – if you think my cave trips were full of drama, then wait til you see what happened when I visited the canyons…

travel

Reversed Bucketlist: Awesome Things I’ve Already Seen & Done

It has been many many moons since my last Reversed Bucketlist post, where I rank and rate the items I’ve ticked of my persona list. In the meantime, I’ve crossed off these additional items from my wanderlist, and here they are, complete with a mark of ten to help see if you should be adding it your list too.

Go to Studio Ghibli
There was a point where I wasn’t sure I could get tickets to Studio Ghibli and I almost didn’t even want to go to Japan, because what was the point of travelling that far with no Ghibli? Thanks to an angel I ended up going and explored every little corner of the museum, enjoyed strawberry cake and spent way too much money in the gift shop.
9/10 – But only because I couldn’t go into the Cat Bus (it’s for children only).

See Sleep No More in New York
I saw my first Punchdrunk show in 2013 and had been craving for something similar and though I’ve tried a few other immersive theatre pieces, nothing has ever hit that sweet spot. This was the first thing I booked after the NY flight confirmation e-mail came through and it was everything!
10/10 – Could have probably gone three times in a row.

Eat all the Mexican IN Mexico
Sure the beaches were nice, and the historial sites were ok, but it was the food in Mexico that did it for me. I could eat tacos with salsa verde and hibiscus juice on the side every day all day long for eternity. I can’t wait to one day explore more of the cuisine Mexico has to offer.
20/10 – I’m still recreating some meals I’ve had there.

Overnight stay in a castle
Ok, ok, it was a room in the Tudor Village that was later built next to Hever Castle, but wandering around the lounge, billiard room and the hallways was dreamy. The best bit was exploring the castle grounds and gardens when the estate closed to the public.
8/10 – I’ve since added 10 other castles to my list.

Walk the Cinque Terre
When I visited in 2018 only two paths out of the five were open and I walked one of those and enjoyed the views and photo spots from another view. I was absolutely not dressed for a hike, but I somehow made it back alive.
7/10 – It was the lemonade at one of the restaurants that made it bareable.

Stay in a ryokan
Staying at a traditional-style Japanese inn where I got to sleep in a tatami room on a futon, soak in the communal onsen bath followed by drinking green tea and chilling in a yukata was high on my list and it was everything I wanted it to be and more.
10/10 – On my next visit to Japan I only want to stay in ryokans.

Afternoon tea at sketch
10 years of an amazing friendship seemed like a good reason to splurge at sketch. I’ve had more afternoon teas since then and have to say that compared to some of the others, I’m wasn’t that impressed by the actual food. No, it was the pink decor, the minimalist art and of course the outer space toilets I paid for.
6/10 – The service was average and the scones dry.

See a show at the Royal Albert Hall
When I read that Snow Patrol would be playing the Royal Albert Hall for their Reworked tour I knew I had to be there, this was THE show I wanted to see on my first visit to the venue. The stress I had booking the tickets cost me about two years of my life, but it was so worth it to cry along to Run while thousands of people lit up the venue with their phones. Would book again and again and again.
10/10 – Even the woman behind me shouting along could not ruin this.

belle tout lighthouse

Sleep in a lighthouse
There aren’t that many places in the UK where you can actually sleep in the actual lighthouse tower, as it’s usually a building next to it. In Belle Tout in Eastbourne however you can and I got to stay in the actual lightkeepers’ hut. It was tiny, it was slightly claustrophobic, but it was so much fun!
10/10 – I don’t think any other lighthouse can top this experience.

Swing above Amsterdam
Amsterdam has the highest swing in Europe, located atop the 22-storey A’DAM Tower, showing you what it’s like to have Amsterdam at your feet with a possible bit of vertigo induced nausea thrown in for good measure.
8/10 – It would take a lot of courage, but would probably go again.

What have you crossed off your Bucketlist?

Uncategorised

My 20 For 2020 – An Update

At the start of the year I put together what I thought would be a realistic and hopeful list of 20 things I wanted to see, do or make in 2020. We’re four months in and I thought I’d do a little round up of where I’m at. Sure I can’t go on that solo trip, see that sports match or follow that specific workshop, but I’ve been able to cross off quite a few things from the ‘self’ section:

Brush Up On My French 101 – I’m kind of learning French. I listened to two episodes of an audio course and used Memrise, but for one of my campaigns at work I have to look at random French words and I’ve grown my vocabulary by 100+ words, but not sure if brosse à dents, assouplissant and Ail will help me whenever I make it to France next.

Make The Most Of My 2 For 1 Railcard – I’m not seeing myself go out on a long train trip in the foreseeable future, but I’ve marked one place from my list and spent my birthday weekend in York in February.

Digital Detox One Weekend A Month – The plan was to switch off my phone one weekend each month and just see where it goes, I did one as it turns out it’s much harder to coordinate and my excuse now is that most video calls are planned on the weekend and I don’t want to miss out on those. To be fair I haven’t been spending as much time on my phone my recently.

Re-read Some Of The Classics – I started off with The Bell Jar and it was the biggest mistake I could make to read that book in January. I also couldn’t remember if I’d read it before or if many other women’s books are based on this. I also re-read books from the Dutch reading list: The Diary of Anne Frank, the Assault and Winter in Wartime. All World War II themed – very fitting with the 75 year anniversary. I’m halfway The Bridge on the Drina which is a Yugoslavian classic that I’ve embarrassedly never read.

Keep A Plant Or Vegetable Alive – I’m in week 11 of keeping my Asparagus Fern alive. I now need to look into repotting and keeping it alive.

Wear All Of My Unworn Clothes – From day one of WFH I made an agreement with myself that I would start the day by putting on a bra and combing my hair and getting fully dressed – and not just day PJs. And that includes trying to wear more of my forgotten clothes, so I’m on track with that. I’ve found a new love for two dresses so far that I’ve already marked as sunny Summer day essentials.

Add New Recipes To My Go-To List – I have been trying new recipes, although this was mainly baking, I’ve also spent some time on savoury dishes. Like the noodle salad I need to bring back in my weekly menu, my spot on white pizza sauce and the many different hummus I’ve made for lunch. But my favourite has to have been making Yorkshire puddings, I happily sacrifice three eggs for it.

Re-watch Some Of My Favourite Movies – I’ve watched over 60 movies in 2020 and only rewatched Stand By Me, one of my all time favourites, and Tangled, a modern Disney princess classic.

How far have you got with your 2020 goals?

Tea Is At Home

Awesome Things I’ve Seen & Done … At Home

It’s been four weeks since quarantine or ‘lockdown’ started here, so it’s time to post about some things I’ve been doing to stay sane, get purpose and create a sense of routine.

Baking & Cooking
Oh, I’ve spent a lot of time in the kitchen, because slow cooking is not only slow, but also comes with a lot of washing up and cleaning. Of course, I jumped on the baking and cooking from scratch bandwagon and made banana bread, Yorkshire puddings and bread. Other things I’ve been doing include pickling and fermenting leftover carrots, cabbage and cucumber.  Now I need to find some recipes to go with that.

Growing & Regrowing
I bought an asparagus fern a few weeks before quarantine as I’m meant to keep something alive for my 20 for 2020 list. So far so good! I also went ahead and planted some seeds, including those peppers you get at Wahaca. And then there’s regrowing vegetables from scrap: celery, spring onions, leek and lettuce. I’m also trying coriander for the first time. In a week or four I’ll have the most random meal.

Movies & Series
I’ve binged Tiger King, finally gotten around watching Silicon Valley and getting through a lot of films. And most of them have been disappointing and I don’t even wish my worst enemy having to sit through many of them, though I’m sure they have the worst taste in music. Can recommend Gretel & Hansel and Motherless Brooklyn though. I expected to do more binge-watching, but I stumbled upon Animal Crossing and have been running around my island weeding the place, picking up twigs and bothering my other residents.

Supporting The Locals
I’ve enjoyed coffee beans and Oatly Barista from Lumberjack so I can make my lattes and mochas, a Patty & Bun lockdown survival kit as a pay day treat…and for this week I’m thinking of ordering something fiendishly good from the Cheese Truck…

On & Off The Blog
I have only published three posts so far, but I’ve been working on old blogs. In January I started refreshing my Amsterdam posts and so far I’ve replaced a lot of the images, lengthened posts and updated info. This quarter I’m tackling my Awesome Things I’ve Seen & Done in London posts and fixing broken backlinks across all pages.

Capturing Moments
Which brings me to taking time for photography and getting to know cameras and lenses better.  And for some reason capturing my culinary creations, my improvised desk and other random moments helps me process.

What hobbies have you taken on during the lockdown? Would love to hear for inspiration.

 

Uncategorised

Support Your Locals in London

Going out to your favourite restaurant, drinks at the pub and a quick coffee and cake may be on pause at the moment, but leave it to London’s hospitality industry to adapt and bring us selected no-contact deliveries.

By now a lot of cafes and restaurants have switched to take-away or home delivery – but don’t just rely on Uber Eats, Just Eat and Deliveroo – also check out social channels for local deals in your area. I’ve put together a list of my favourites, as well as recommendations from actual locals.

ACROSS ALL LONDON

Patty & Bun have teamed up with HG Walter to bring you a lockdown cook-at-home pack of their must-have burgers. You get the ingredients, the recipe and if you do it right the only things you need to add yourself are tomatoes, lettuce…and maybe a chef’s hat! Order your lockdown kit here – they are sold out quickly, but generally get back in stock soon after.

The Cheese Bar first brought us the Cheese Bar, then the Cheese Conveyor Belt and now a Cheese Truck to deliver us self-isolation survival kits with cheese, wine and charcuterie. Check here when they deliver to your area and how you can get a hold out their essential kit.

Though Fuckoffee is closed they still offer their roasting and shipping, so we can get hold of one of the essentials to survive the day. They have a one-off, weekly and monthly options. You can check them here.

YOUR LOCAL COFFEE SHOPS

Lumberjack – Camberwell / Peckham
My local Lumberjack delivers my essentials: bread, eggs and almond croissants. But they also offer a selection of coffee beans, vegetables and beers. What I love most is their Pay It Forward where you can buy a meal for an NHS worker, which they delivery daily to the local hospital. The best part though? You can pay it forward and donate a lunch no matter your location. Jump online, put in your order and get giving.

Sift Cakes – Kew / Richmond / Teddington / Chiswick / South Ealing
In case you can’t get flour to bake yourself, your banana bread doesn’t turn out too great, or don’t have the time to bake, send yourself a baked treat to go with your coffee. For a less guilty option, they also offer a vegetable/fruit box. See here how you can order.

Snackbar – Dalston / Hackney
Snackbar have a weekly menu and the people of Dalston are lucky to have this a go-to place for a healthy and flavour-filled offer without the hassle. Stay up to date on what they offer here.

Luca’s – East Dulwich / Peckham
Luca’s sells a selection of flour, eggs, milk and butter. You can also order dry pasta, tea boxes and coffee beans. Check their Facebook page for the latest offers and how to order.

Aneto Cafe – East Dulwich / Peckham
I’ve seen a wide range of things popping up on their Facebook, including a wine and cheese comfort box, pastries and bread. Have a look on how to get your delivery straight to your door here.

Birdhouse – Clapham / Wandsworth
The Clapham based coffee shop is offering local pickup and delivery of their sandwiches and mouth-wateringly-good pastries! Keep an eye on their Facebook for the most up to date opening times and menu offerings.

I’ll keep updating this list, so keep checking on how you can support your locals.