Georgian customs

Today I am attempting to pick up our boxes that we sent from Australia last week via Jetta excess baggage… I tried yesterday and after a couple of hours in between Customs and the Cargo terminal (which are very luckily right next door to each other…) I was told to come back today.

My friend picked Bubba and I up yesterday at 10.30 and we headed out to the airport.. We incredibly found the Cargo terminal on the first go, without any wrong turns – an AMAZING feat. I waited in line for about 10 minutes at the incoming cargo line, received my paperwork and was told to now go to Customs building to sort out the Customs clearance. There were many people in the waiting area in Customs and as I got my ticket (#44) I glanced at the screen – yep, only up to #26… and these aren’t really quick appointments!! So with Bubba already starting to get a bit antsy in the Manduca carrier, we just stood up and waited. Then, as #28 was called up, a lady gave me her #28 and said “here, I’m not using it!” What an Angel!! Pays to have Bubba with me sometimes!!
I handed the operator my paperwork, they tried to use google translate for “Unaccompanied Baggage” without success, then another lady went off into the back area with my papers and my passport…for over half an hour…. The operator kept Bubba entertained by showing him pictures of animals on her computer screen – Did I mention that they loveeee babies over here!?
I asked a few times if everything was ok, “yes fine fine”… then eventually the other lady came back and told me that actually I had to go back to the Cargo building and go to 2nd floor and get an “exportise (????or something to the sounds of this?) invoice”.

SOOOOOO off we trotted to the Cargo building and to the 2nd floor. There is a small Customs clearance office there – they informed me that yes I did need this invoice, it would take 3-4 hours and so I could pick up my cargo tomorrow. But to get such a invoice, I had to go back to the Customs office and get a letter from them saying that I needed a Exportise (??again, sorry have no idea) Invoice. AHHHH. So we went back to the Customs Building, the nice lady at the front desk must have felt sorry for me and did up this letter for me (which had to include all my Australian and Georgian addresses and phone numbers and passport information).

In this time, they were only up to #39 at Customs by the way…

So then back to the Cargo offices, up to level 2, handed in my documents and was told that I could pick up said invoice at 10am tomorrow and then deal with Customs and pick up my cargo.

What a frustrating hour and a half! But thank god for the Manduca, it was a lifesaver today!

I think this is because it’s my first time bringing anything in to Georgia, as from now on, I can just use this invoice/letter without having to go through all this to-do kerfuffle. On another note, we used Jetta excess baggage to send 8 boxes and they have given a great service from Australia- Georgia for a really good rate too!

So in any case, off to the airport in an hour, sans Bubba this time, thank goodness for the babysitter!!

I just want to unpack my nespresso and sewing machines!! 🙂 WISH ME LUCK!!!

 

Tbilisi

It was a dreary day on Sunday but we went out for some sightseeing, taking the aerial cable car (gondola) from the left bank of the river up to the Narikala fortress. Bubba loved going in the gondola, and it is so easy and cheap – can just tap your metrocard and its 1 Lari per person per journey (ie 2 Lari if you go up and back). The ride is over so quickly though!! You also have the option of walking up and down the hill, but we didn’t really feel like carrying bubba up and down a load of stairs since we didn’t take the Manduca carrier with us.

We then wandered around the Chardeni area in the Old Town, which is rife with bars, eateries and little tourist shops. This area will come alive in the summer, with the restaurants starting to uncover & set out their al-fresco areas! I’m planning on taking all my visitors here to wander the streets.

A few (not very good) pics of some of the areas – I STILL haven’t charged my camera so I’m making do with my iPhone.

My new Crochet obsession

As of yesterday, I have a new love. Crochet.

I love to sew and create things. I often have a few unfinished projects on the go at one time, right now I have an almost finished quilt for Bubba’s cot sitting in a box in Brisbane that I can’t wait to finish (when it arrives with my sewing machine!).  So last week, you could only imagine my excitement when I found a shop with a small range of wool & knitting needles – and although I am a pretty basic knitter, thoughts of blankets or scarves were running through my mind (or something else in a rectangle shape, as I don’t know how to increase or decrease stitches…).

The knitting ended up a bit of a failure, I did make a scarf for Bubba but it was loose and uneven and had a few holes that mum wasn’t here to fix.

After consulting Mr Google, and my favourite crafty blogs, I decided that I would teach myself how to crochet! Ooh the excitement! I have wanted to learn how to crochet since I was in school, and my sister would crochet amazing granny blankets!

So off Bubba & I trotted again to the same little shop and purchased a crochet hook that they had, (with lots of pointing and nodding and motioning…) and being the absolute crochet novice that I was, I didn’t know that the 3.5mm hook that I purchased is actually very small and it’s MUCH easier to start on a much wider hook!!

I watched a few “how to crochet” videos, the best that I found was below and got the hang of it pretty quickly.

I decided to make a really simple blanket for Bubba’s cot since I had navy, green and white yarn. Just rows and rows of double crochet – how easy! Unfortunately, bad lighting, a small crochet hook and thin navy wool all added up to a pretty frustrating 4 hours of crocheting last night.

So that brings me to our adventure today! After hunting down some tips from some other crafty ladies here in Tbilisi (via a yahoo email list group) I popped Bubba in the Manduca, & we went on a hunt for thicker wool and some bigger crochet hooks. We walked down to Baratashvili Street, (map link in the Tbilisi info section) which is about a 3km walk from our apartment (yes… via a coffee shop, how did you know?!). It is located past Freedom Square (coming from Rustaveli), and the yarn shops are in the underpass located near the colourful balconies along the Old Tbilisi Wall. It is such a beautiful part of the city and I managed to remember to take a few photos along the way (just a pity that today was so foggy and cloudy, and I only had my iPhone not camera).

Entrance to Underpass at Baratishvili Street.

Entrance to Underpass at Baratashvili Street.

The colourful balconies just above the underpass. Baratishvili St

The colourful balconies just above the underpass. Baratashvili St

Restaurant near underpass, Baratishvili St.

Restaurant near underpass, Baratashvili St.

I didn’t have very high expectations, thinking there may be one little yarn store in the underpass… but there were at least 4 or 5 stores all with different wools and yarns, along with crochet hooks, ribbons, trims, cottons, beads etc etc…. I will definitely be back for some more! The yarn over here is relatively cheap as well. I purchased some 100% Acrylic Yarn (100gms/190 yards) for 3.50Lari and a 5.5mm and 7mm crochet hook for 3 Lari each. (I would have liked a Cotton or Wool blend but I just pointed to the colours I liked & read the Turkish later… I’ll have a better look next time!)

So now, hopefully the Bub will nap for hours while I get my crochet on!  With the wider hook and thicker wool, I have crocheted the same amount in 40 minutes as I accomplished in 3 or so hours last night. J

The idea for the blanket I am making is from Honeybee Vintage’s blog here, but it doesn’t even need a pattern its so simple. I used 100 Chain Stitches for the width. I am going to use Grey, Dusty Blue and Cream in different width stripes, changing whenever I feel like it – it’s a Turkish brand called Kartopu.

OOOOH can’t wait to show you, husband away for a few days so I should get a good start on it! Here is the progress I’ve made so far, only about 7 rows! I had better pics but I just loved this one with a little hand trying to sneakily grab the crochet hook while I’m occupied!!

Someone trying to grab a crochet hook! Cheeky monkey!

Someone trying to grab a crochet hook! Cheeky monkey!

J x

Tbilisi friendliness

So far, I have found most people in Tbilisi to be quite friendly (unless in traffic…) and more often than not will want to stop and give you advice about your child (which I can’t understand anyway and so I smile and nod, ‘Madloba, Nahkvamdis”) .

Every single time that Bubba and I are out walking, with him cuddled up to me in the Manduca carrier, I have numerous old ladies come up to me, talking and gesturing at Bubba and trying to lean in and kiss him – while he is strapped to my chest!! I try and fend them off, as I don’t really want him catching anything! Bubba also helps deflect this, turning his head from side to side as they try and get at him. Poor boy.

Additionally, in any shop (supermarket, café, clothing store) if he is walking away from me or running around, people will just pick him up to give him back to me – which he HATES – he is in a very clingy stage for Mumma and hates other people picking him up!

So, Bubba and I went out for a walk on Saturday, down to Rustaveli Ave as ‘Dadda’ was away for a few days. So I did my usual Pram juggle down the stairs, and had a lovely morning walk down to Entrée, cosying up with a coffee and croissant for morning tea (and Wiggles on the iPad for Bubba so this Mumma could feel like I was also getting a break). The lovely girl at Entrée (who Bubba loves) ran over and helped carry him up and down the stairs while I carried the pram in.

Coffee, Milk & Danish at Entree, Rustaveli

Coffee, Milk & Danish at Entree, Rustaveli

Afterwards, I took the pram back outside and attempted to wrangle the excitable Bubba back in the pram. Wellllll…. He wasn’t having a bar of it! This little mister has one helluva temper on him and a massive set of lungs, kicking and screaming and arching his back – anything but going into the pram! So Tbilisi being Tbilisi, I had one dodgy looking man stop and start talking and pointing at the pram…. I don’t know what he was saying, maybe he was even trying to buy it off me, No idea…  but I think my death stare scared him away pretty quick… Sooo, rather than fight it, I let Bubba walk alongside the pram, and of course, straight away he ran the other way… So then a couple of old men tried to run after him – which scared him even more – although at least it made him run back to me “Mumma!! Mumma!’’ !!

We eventually got moving in the right direction, (stopping & trying to pick up dog poo that is all over every sidewalk here – Bubba, that is, not me..) and I decided that since he wasn’t in the pram anyway, we would go through the underpass to a park with a playground over the other side of the road near the Marriott Hotel. So I carried the pram and bubba down the stairs, wheeled pram over to other side and was about to carry pram and let bubba walk up, as he LOVES to walk up stairs.

He didn’t even get a chance! ….. an old lady had come down the stairs, saw us, grabbed Bubba, and proceeded to “run” with him up the stairs, with him kicking and screaming and me running after her with pram saying “What are you doing!? He can walk!!!!”. She got to the top, put him down (with him running to me crying “Mumma mumma”) and just toddled off back downstairs again.

I do realise she thought she was helping me out, but when you come from a culture where just picking up random kids is a bit of a no-no, you do get a bit panicky when someone just runs off with your baby without saying a word to you!!

In all, it is nice living in a place where people just give you a hand without you having to ask – I no longer worry about heading out with the pram as I know that if needed, random people will just give me a hand lifting the pram up and down the few stairs that we go up.

Walking down Rustaveli Ave, Tbilisi

Walking down Rustaveli Ave, Tbilisi

 

Start of our walk near , Chavchavadze Ave, beautiful day!

Start of our walk near , Chavchavadze Ave, beautiful day!

Baking Powder happiness

So….since my last post, I have seen people with prams everywhere.. literally everywhere. Nannies pushing their little charges around the block, up and down the street; Mums taking their babies out for a little stroll; Mums & Dads taking their children out in the pram in the park… So I eat my words. I maintain about the steps and taking a pram “shopping” – you really have to pick the side of the road you want to walk up and down the street on… also in a difference to Australia, over here I’ve noticed that people will merely leave their pram outside a shop while they have a browse, or if you can get your pram in, the store security guard (almost every store has at least one security guard) will follow you around the store while you shop. I have also been very suspiciously looked at when I have the baby in the Manduca carrier & my coat over the top (and hence followed around a store..).

In any case, Friday was a very exciting day for me here in Tbilisi.

Why, you ask?

Because after two weeks of searching in the three big supermarkets,  and the smaller grocery stores in town, I was resigned to the fact that there was not only no Self Raising flour for sale in this country (GASP!), but there was no baking powder either! How was I meant to bake scrumptious muffins, cakes, slices or biscuits? If I did they were going to flat as a pancake! How did the bakeries here bake these things!??

I started gathering some intel (Ok, I googled and read other Tbilisi blogs… which I would credit but I can’t remember which one I read the magical info on…) I found the address of a bakery store (7 Arakishvili St) that “someone” claimed possibly sold Cream of Tartar! This bakery wasn’t all that far from me so I set out with baby in tow, and after a few wrong turns, found said store, and was in paradise! Big containers of Baking Powder, Cream of Tartar, measured out for you and sold by the gram! So 400gms and 12Lari later, some “Didi Madloba, Nahvamdis!”, I was a happy chappy and trotted on home with my 400gms of white powder in a plastic bag (dodgy much!?) to cook some blueberry muffins.

I unfortunately told this to my muffin obsessed baby so for the entire 20 minute walk home all I could hear was “muff? muff?”.

Friday was a good day 🙂

London? Australia? Tbilisi?

In the coffee shop that I discovered today I could have been somewhere in London, or anywhere in Australia… but I definately didn’t think I was in Tbilisi! We had passed the sign to this book store almost every day on our walks, and peered down the little walkway, but was a little intimidated to try somewhere new by myself! But today I took a deep breath, and decided to man up and discover for myself… down the walkway and through the picturesque courtyard,  I surprisingly found an expat paradise, an almost entirely English book store, and cosy cafe inside.

Here I purchased a new picture book in the large Children’s section for my very excitable little boy, and chatted to an American family, in a place where everyone just assumed you spoke English. It was a little oasis from the busy Rustaveli Ave only metres away. If I can manage to juggle  my pram and the baby down the stairs from our apartment, it is a nice walk here and I would be able to park the pram in the courtyard whilst having a coffee … Mission for tomorrow (should I choose to accept it – sorry couldn’t help it…): pram walk to coffee shop and back.

Walkway through to Prospero's Books from Rustaveli Ave.

Walkway through to Prospero’s Books from Rustaveli Ave.

Afterwards, with a ‘bye bye, see you later’ we wandered back along Rustaveli Ave towards home (ok… via Zara and 2 pairs of jeans on sale…), the baby fell asleep in the Manduca (as expected!) and I was able to buy a cheese bread from a hole-in-the-wall bakery with a “Gamarjoba, Madloba, Nakhvamdis”, and wander home to put baby into bed.

What an unexpected but lovely morning outing.

Manduca love

I’ve gone for two walks today:

1. our regular morning walk for around an hour with Bub in the Manduca carrier to sit & have a coffee (and look in various stores)

2.  just for a “short” walk (10min each way) to a store to pick up a new Doona / Duvet/ Quilt. For this second walk I carried Bub and let him walk for a little bit.

This short walk carrying my 11.5kg baby, then home with him and 2 big shopping bags, made me fall back in love with my baby carrier. He’s not only heavy when carrying him, but when he walks he never goes in the direction that I want, so I end up looking like a crazy lady running around trying to haul & drag him in the right direction. He also will stop and watch every bus go past…. and truck… and police car… which on the main street of Tbilisi, is almost every car. So therefore, I am never leaving home without my Manduca again.

I am also missing going for walks with my Baby Jogger pram. I love our pram, it is such a great pram to drive…. around a city where you don’t need to use an underpass to cross the road (which I do to get anywhere*), or don’t have a steep flight of stairs up to your apartment building (which I do..). Most of the shops and cafes also have steps to get up to them or down into them. Not so much a pram friendly inner city – but there are some lovely parks to walk around with a pram … if I could get to them! 🙂

*I should clarify – Georgian’s do not need to use an underpass, they just walk across the road in the middle of the traffic, dodging the cars or getting beeped at.

On another note – I am determined to learn and use Georgian, as although many Georgians can speak some English, I think its useful & polite to know some. I have learned:

Hello: Gamarjoba

Thankyou: Madloba

Goodbye: nakhvamdis

I’m getting there….