Friday, April 22, 2016

Last Morning In Tbilisi. The Dry Bridge Bazaar.


Happy Earth Day, Passover starts at sundown. George Clooney arrived into Yerevan today, in advance of Armenia Genocide Day which is in 2 days!!  There is also a strike against Russia today in Yerevan to protest the country providing arms to Azerbaijan. And it will be a full moon tonight.

Pat and I spent our last morning in Tbilisi at the Dry Bridge Bazaar which is a flea market. I really needed a break from seeing churches and Pat didn't complain that I wasn't going to drag her off to yet another cathedral :-)

The Dry Bridge Bazaar was born during the hard economic times that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Members of Georgia's established upper-middle-class were desperate to convert their goods into quick cash before leaving the country.  At the same time, people living at the lower rungs of the economic ladder were selling their possessions in order to make a little cash. For some people that is still the case today, though for others this is their main business.

Today, the market sells pretty much everything you expect to see in a flea market and you are expected to haggle.   The only thing I did not nothing was used clothing and footwear.

Making our way to Saarbruecken Bridge

The market is located alongside a stretch of the Mtkvari River, just as you cross over Saarbruecken Bridge from the new city.  It took us about a half hour to walk there from our apartment. 

A view of the right bank of the Mtkvari River from the bridge.

We didn't know exactly where the bazaar was located but it wasn't hard to figure out. Before we even made it all the way across the bridge, we spotted the first set of vendors, with whatever they had for sale, spread out on the ground.


The market spread out around the corner, alongside the river. 


This section was like the Radio Shack of electrical junk.  You name the electrical bit and bob and you could find it it - batteries, capacitors, resistors, terminators, wiring, cables, etc.



 
Pretty much whatever you want or need, you can probably find it here.  But I was skeptical anything that looked to be *antique*.  I'm sure there are legitimate antique items here but I think much of the stuff was recently manufactured to deliberately look like it came from decades ago.  Pretty much *junk*.

Copperware.  I did like some of the pots but was not about to buy anything here.

Lots of porcelain tea cups.  When I was young, I used to collect porcelain tea cups just like these.

A lot of bric-à-brac for sale.

People were selling goods from their cars and vans as well. 

What's a flea market without old records?

More *old* pots.  I love how the trees were drafted to be used as display hangers.

Old typewriters.  These were really cool to look at, especially the one on the left which had Russian keys.

The keys of the Russian typewriter.

There was a lower area, at the level of the river, where the vendors specialized in mainly dishware, lamps and chandeliers.


You can buy a *whole* chandelier or the bits and pieces to make up one.

If I was in need of a chandelier, I would definitely be checking out the items in this section of the Dry Bridge Bazaar.

Call me odd but I really liked these dishes imprinted with images of  fish.

Need a mink?  Furs are still politically acceptable here.  Even ones that are basically the whole animal, gutted.

We spotted one section where paintings are sold. It's a weekday today so many of the displays were empty but even so, there were plenty of paintings to be had.




Most of the stuff was not of my taste.  I would describe it as the paintings you would see hanging in a hotel room.  But, there was one that caught by eye.  It is of a Georgian man, holding a khinkali up to his lips.  His eyes are closed and he looks like he's just about to have an orgasmic moment.....over a khinkali.  I had to have the painting.  There was no one sight to ask for more information.  In fact, I walked away but something kept calling me to go back.  Then, a man approached and we negotiated a deal.  I figured he was the artist but it turned out he was just helping out.  Whatever the case, I bought the painting but I only wanted the canvas.


So, another man came over to also help out.  The canvas was attached to the frame with staples and he removed them all.


Then the two men rolled up the canvas and wrapped it up with a plastic bag.  Nothing fancy but it all worked.


It turned out the second man was the artist.  He didn't speak much English and he did tell me his name but I quickly forgot it.  Thankfully, he did sign the work.  I told him his painting was going to America and that I would take very good care of it.


Next to the section of paintings was a row of souvenir vendors.  Here was all the kitschy stuff that is designed to attract tourists.  Even Pat fell for it, walking away with a couple of really nice magnets.


We evenutally made it back to the bridge, passing by a row of vendors selling Russian paraphernalia.  There were plenty of military insignias, pins, badges, and coins among the lot of stuff.


Soviet military caps.  I actually kind of like these.  I would never wear one though.

Quite a collection of insignias and pins!

Coins and more coins.

This is a collection of matchboxes.  Very cool.

If you're a flea market junkie, you could literally spend hours here but for Pat and I, making one round of the vendors was enough for us.

After we were done at the bazaar, we headed back to the apartment.  For lunch, we bought a couple of ham and cheese sandwiches at the Entree bakery across the street from our apartment. To use up my last 3.45 lari, I bought a cherry tart. We were .05 lari short but the server was kind enough to let us have the tart anyway.

We took our food back to the apartment and sat down to eat. We still had some strawberries and sour cream left over from last night which we were just about to have for dessert when I decided to check my cellphone. I saw an email from Gurgen. I told him to email me when he arrived so I could let him into the building. It was 12:48 when the message came in and I saw it just a few minutes later. He was waiting for us outside the McDonald's. I told him to come to Dunkin' Donuts and we would meet him there. I had Pat come with me since she was familiar with locking and unlocking all the doors. Poor Pat, she had barely downed a strawberry when I yanked her away to come with me.

As we opened the door to our building; we were about to cross paths with two men. The younger was slender with dark hair and the older was a lot chunkier with lighter brown hair. The young man was Gurgen and the older gentleman was his father Arkash. We explained to them that we had arranged with Oleg to come at 2p to get the key so we had to wait for an hour. We invited them to come up to the apartment but they preferred to have a cup of coffee at Dunkin' Donuts and wait for us there.

So, Pat and I headed back upstairs. I texted Oleg to see if he could come earlier and he said he would try. I had no expectations of an early arrival. Sure enough, pretty much on the dot at 2p, Oleg showed up. He did a quick check of the apartment and then we handed the keys over to him. He took our luggage and while he and I rode the elevator down together, Pat decided to take the stairs. One last time on the 9 flights!

Outside, I introduced the guys to each other.

Oleg on the left, Gurgen in the middle and Arkash on the right.

They spoke in Russian as neither speaks the other's native language. So lucky they have Russian as a common language. After a few minutes, we all parted ways. Initially, I walked with Gurgen and Pat towards the car but then decided to go back to meet up with Gurgen's father who was waiting for Oleg to get some information on the apartment for him. I wanted to say a proper goodbye to Gurgen before leaving. It seemed like the polite thing to do considering how hospitable he has been to us.

After thanking Oleg, I ran to meet up with the other three.  Gurgen started up the van and we slowly made our way out of the city.

It's been a short visit to Tbilisi but for us, probably just the right amount of time. We've enjoyed exploring the old city and meeting some wonderful people in Georgia but for now, it's time to move on and my thoughts turn to the days that lay before us. I am excited!

Goodbye Tbilisi!