Saturday, February 26, 2011

February Fun Weekend

Sometimes trying to do something is just as much of an adventure as actually doing the something I was trying to do. In Georgia, this seems to be the norm.

Toward the end of our extensive travel adventures over Christmas break, James and Katherine and I decided that we needed to plan a weekend excursion every month for the rest of our time here in Georgia. We decided that February Fun Weekend should be a ski weekend since it's still very much winter here, and the skiing is supposed to be great.

The view from our hotel balcony.....and a few icicles.
There are two main ski areas: Gudauri and Bakuriani. Bakuriani is the most central to all three of us, so we chose that location. We all arrived yesterday, checked into our hotel -- a lovely, alpine-lodge style, all-inclusive establishment, and caught up with what's going on in each other's worlds. (Hard to believe it's been five weeks since our January travels.) After dinner at the hotel, we played a little ping-pong, then bundled up to go out for a beer. We found a nice restaurant with a roaring fireplace and a DJ. We pulled our chairs up close to the fireplace, sipped our Natakhtaris, and watched a bunch of men dance their version of traditional dances while the DJ sang traditional songs. Then the DJ put on a disco tune, and told us that it was for us -- we couldn't very well refuse, so we got up and danced (something I'll do without much prodding, anyway). We took turns grooving out all sorts of cheesy disco moves -- the water sprinkler, the lawn mower, the truck driver, the fisherman -- fun stuff. The DJ put on a slower song and danced with me, while James and Katherine danced, then he played some more traditional tunes that the other Georgian men danced to ..... I decided to join them and do a few of the steps that I've been learning. What fun! They all loved it! They clapped and danced with more vigor and zest.

Me, James, and Katherine at the slope
This morning dawned cold and blustery. After breakfast, we put on as many clothes as possible and walked over to the beginner ski slope to try a few runs and to teach Katherine how to ski. The conditions were rough -- the wind was so strong and frigid, it was almost difficult to stand at some points. After a great beginning, Katherine had had enough, and retired to the lodge while James and I made a few more runs from the top of the hill. It was a really short hill, so it took all of 30 seconds to get to the bottom. We decided to try to find one of the bigger slopes after lunch, and went inside to find Katherine.

Disused ski lift
After a late lunch, James and I again donned our warmest gear and ventured out to find the better slopes. Being self-relient, we decided to strike out on foot and see what we could find instead of taking a taxi to.....we didn't know exactly where. We headed up the road in the direction that we had been pointed. Thankfully the wind had died down since the morning, and walking was a bit more comfortable, although still a bit tricky on the roads covered with ice and corn-snow. We were soon outside the main part of town and still climbing toward the bowl surrounded by mountains that rose up into the clouds. When we came to a fork in the road, we followed the road that appeared to lead to a group of hotels and a lift that we could see. It was a lift and some hotels, alright, but they were all abandoned or unfinished. There were some people sledding, but the lift had not been in operation for quite some time. There was a for sale sign on it.... weird. We went back down to the fork in the road and went the other way. The road wound its way up through the snowy woods and meadows, continuing to the end of the valley. It was a long walk, but we were very happy to see the lift there operating and lots of people skiing. The slopes looked great. We went into the lodge to get skis, and were told that they closed at 5 -- it was 5:10. We were both a little frustrated, but we had a nice hike, anyway. We walked back down to the town, and caught a cab back to the hotel.

After dinner we thought about going ice skating since the slopes were closed -- there are no lights for night-skiing. Bundled up again, we walked outside..... it had turned frigid again, with wind and blowing snow swirling everywhere. The ice rink was an outdoor rink, and we decided that it was just too blasted cold to enjoy skating. We walked into the nearest "marketi," bought a bottle of good wine, took it back the hotel, and had a lovely evening sharing some glasses of red and some good conversation.

Our February Fun Weekend was not quite what we had planned, but it was fun nonetheless. We did ski....for about an hour, and it was well-worth the $3.50 the ski rentals and lift cost us! I doubt that we will make it back here again, but we experienced Bakuriani in our own way. Sometimes adventures are all about going with the flow.

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