Four hours prior to flying to Tbilisi, I received a major gift. Itka, the person of whom I often say I would take to a desert island, spontaneously decided to join.
It turned out to be a gift for her too. As part of my work on the travel article I had to visit an elegant local casino. Itka hit a jackpot there, winning ten times her bid.
But the real gift for both of us was Tbilisi. Many cities are beautiful, many are unique, very few are literally magical
Markets are a gift, Tbilisi is the only city I've seen that has a massive market of paintings. It's to be found twixt its flea market and book market.
Strange alphabets are a gift.
Hills surrounding a city are always a gift.
The peculiar melange of central Asia and high Europe is a gift.
Our hosts, Manana and Tamas, were a gift, as was Tamuna, who does not appear in this photo.
Accidently landing into a party of Young Georgians and their Estonian friends easily rivaled the casino win.
Georgia kept us in high spirits (Chacha, the local poison, is 50% alcohol strong).
Nighttime is a gift, whether splendiferous or gritty.
Timidness is a very sweet gift.
Even the remnants of Soviet times can be a sort of a strange gift (only to the aesthetic adventurer, don't say such a thing to a Georgian).
Georgia ourside the city turned out to be barren and ancient, like an Orthodox Scotland.
It is gifted with peaks nearly 6000 meters tall. those are not pictured here, but they're there, somewhere further north along the vicious, closed down border with the Russian Federation.
The land in winter is resplandent.
We were fed very seriously, in country restaurants, in urban khinkali joints, wherever. That was perhaps the greatest gift of all, along with the hypnotic, outstanding music that was playing wherever we went.
No wonder I find myself walking around one of the least American cities I've ever visited, with an old Shaker hymn in my head: 'Tis a gift to be simple.
'Tis a gift to be free.
'Tis a gift to come down where we aught to be.
For when we find ourselves at the place just right
We will be in the valley of love and delight.