On a free walking tour, our guide pointed to some balconies and announced that they were the original "social network." He explained that the balconies connected neighbors together. They were used daily for gossip and during war times to help people escape from Russian soldiers. Then our tour guide took us to sit under a shade tree and whistled several musical selections from opera to pop to his captive and somewhat bewildered audience. Nate and I politely applauded while exchanging bemused glances that read, "Well, that was different."
After wearing out our welcome in Tbilisi, we decided to get on a train to travel west to a tiny town called Borjomi. Nate and I arrived at the train station with plenty of time to spare, found the right platform, and waited with a few dozen other sleepy passengers. As the train approached, everything changed. In an instant, everyone was crowding the edge of the platform jockeying for the front. As the train slowed, people began throwing...yes, throwing their bags into the train cars, presumably before the train car's occupants even had a chance to vacate their seats. This was followed by a chaotic stampede of people trying to both get on and off the train at the same time. It was pandemonium. Nate and I stood in the background, too stunned to move. Once on board, everything was made clear. The trains do not have a seat for every ticket sold, not by a long shot. Nate and I passed through car after car without finding anywhere to sit. Finally, a kind looking older woman caught my eye and motioned for me to sit where her bag was currently occupying the seat next to her. At the same time, an elderly man in the adjacent row did the same for Nate. We sat down gratefully, once again silently exchanging looks that read, "Well, that was a little apocalyptic."