It seems like a lifetime ago now but we recently visited Georgia for the first time. Georgia the country in Europe, not Georgia the state in America. It’s one of the Eurasian countries where Filipinos can travel without requiring a visa, that is if you have a valid residence visa in the UAE, which we have. Yay! We are allowed to visit visa-free for up to 90 days. We only needed a few days so that was great for us. In fact, there were quite a few Filipino holiday-makers in the same flight as ours. Why not take advantage of visa-free travel, yes?
Our AirBnB host, Irakli who was soft-spoken, kind and generous. He spoke English well enough and tried to help us arrange tours but we had already pre-booked with a tour company so I kinda felt bad that we could not take him up on his offer to help. His apartment was in an older-looking building, but inside it was decent and quiet. Funny thing is you had to deposit 20 tetri into a coinbox to operate the lift! The flat was on the 12th floor so we used the lift going up, but coming down we took the stairs.
The first stop of our first day tour was at the impressive Holy Trinity Cathedral. It sits atop a hill so you get to see the entire city when you’re up there. It is a beautiful cathedral, the grounds are well-kept and the cathedral itself is quite impressive. One thing to remember about Orthodox churches, men must wear full trousers and sleeved shirts and women must not show arms or legs and cover their head. All churches have a stash of veils and wraps for women to use if they came unsuitably dressed. So fair warning: wear trousers or long skirt/dresses and a light scarf for your head if you are visiting Georgia because chances are you will be entering a church at some point.
Work was being done on the back wall of the main altar. The cathedral is fairly new so the walls do not have any of those impressive frescoes. Hopefully, I can come back and see this all finished and coloured and imposing. It’s very echoey inside due to the high ceilings. I have never been inside an Orthodox church before and I find it interesting how they have no pews or chairs of anything to sit on. You are free to stand wherever you like.
The images/paintings are all too familiar. now I understand where Catholics got most of these images. Growing up, we have a framed print of Our Lady of Perperutal Help, and I used to stare in awe at the smallest details of that image: the angels on the corners, the writings seemingly at random on the edges of the canvas and the very distinctive look of the people on the portrait. They all originate from these Georgian portraits.
Out of all of us, only Patrick was suitably dressed to come and go in the churches. The rest of us had to cover up, I had to do it both on my head and my legs so that the days after this I wore jeans and brought a shawl along.
More photos to come!