Well, if it were a statement it would be a rather bold one but the Goodwill supermarket in the northern suburbs of Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, is certainly the largest I’ve ever been in – and I’ve been in a few! As I approached the large green and yellow behemoth on foot I assumed that most of the building would be storage of some kind, or be defunct areas of nothingness like many of the buildings in Tbilisi seem to have. But no, as I entered the shop I was confronted by rows upon rows of everything from food and drink to toys and furniture and even a dedicated decorative mirror section. Okay, it’s not the first shop in the world to have all of these things but the sheer vastness of the place was rather daunting as it was my job to get the prices for most of them and there are only so many hours in a day. The shop even has an expansive hunting section with all sorts of guns, rifles and camouflage gear for the enthusiasts.
The shops get smaller in the city centre and roaming the streets of Tbilisi there is more of an old-world charm, certainly unlike the shiny new skyscrapers and rapid construction which is happening in the neighbouring capital of Baku in Azerbaijan. With its quirky street art dotted along the main thoroughfare of Shota Rustaveli and quaint cafés in cobblestoned courtyards the city feels quite homely and it’s no wonder that expats like to linger for hours over a coffee or Georgian cheese bread at Prospero’s Books, tucked away from the traffic off the main road. It’s not a place to be if you have trouble on your feet though, as negotiating the endless potholes can be a bit of a strain on one’s balance faculties.
Georgia, independent since 1991, has few claims-to-fame but they are very proud of their Georgian wine and, in fact, some claim that wine was invented in the country over 9000 years ago. Today the wine industry is thriving and a glass of red or white is never too far away in Tbilisi – they were even giving it away in one restaurant where I ate. The Georgians love of their wine is so strong that it’s actually nigh on impossible to find any foreign brands and so any wine loving expats living here would soon have to forget about their favourite French Cabernet Sauvignon or Chilean Merlot and learn to love the tastes of Teliani Valley and Old Metekhi!
That’s all for now folks but I’ll be in Karachi in Pakistan next week from where I hope to give an insight in to life from a country which seems to have been rarely out of the news in recent years.