Secretary of State John Kerry visited Tbilisi on his way to the NATO Summit at the beginning of July. JR and I weren’t involved in the logistics of his visit, but it was really interesting to see just how much goes into every detail of planning a VIP visit at the Embassy and in the city. Embassy employees were invited to a short meet-and-greet with him before he departed and we went to see him. I had no idea I was such a huge John Kerry fan until I saw some of these pictures.
After a fun 4th of July weekend (that included my first trip to the Hard Rock Cafe in Tbilisi – we now have a Hard Rock here!), we only had to wait a few more days for my mom’s second visit to Georgia. I already wrote about us ditching her immediately so we could enjoy a quick trip to London, but luckily she had 2 full weeks here so we were able to spend some quality time together.
We went out to dinner with friends and my mom – who is a pickier eater than me (and that’s really saying something) – shocked us all by trying quail. One minute we’re chatting and the next I look over and she’s nibbling away on some grilled quail. I was impressed! She said it tasted pretty good, but I’m not quite ready to try it myself.
Most of her visit was spent as “Nana”, which is all she really wanted, although she also enjoyed some lazy afternoons at the pool. On her last weekend, she helped me (okay to be fair she did most of the work) host a turkey dinner at our house for a few friends. I ordered a turkey back in the fall before we had plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and we spent both holidays with friends and didn’t need to prepare our huge bird. I had no idea when we’d use it and this seemed like the perfect time, especially considering I’ve never cooked a turkey. We had a minor crisis when we realized the “turkey bag” I thought I had was actually a cellophane bag and those are apparently not the same thing at all. The bag burst and we thought our turkey was doomed, but my friend Elizabeth came to the rescue with an extra bag that was in fact designed for cooking a turkey, and we were able to enjoy a wonderful dinner!
My mom would have been content to spend all of her time in our little gated community just enjoying Abby’s company, but we made a last minute decision to drive to Kazbegi, home to Mount Kazbegi and the small village of Stepantsminda. The drive took us just under 3 hours, which would have been a bit shorter but we had to stop many times for cows in the road.
We checked into Rooms Hotel and had a picnic lunch on the patio, enjoying the perfect weather and gorgeous views. JR and I wanted to see the famous Gergeti Trinity Church, which sits high on a mountain overlooking the city (I never know the distinction between a hill and a mountain. I’m from Ohio, so they all look like mountains to me).
You can hike up to the church, or drive in your own car or pay a taxi or guide to take you. Surely you can guess that I was not interested in the hiking option. Instead, we hired a guide to ride in our car while JR drove us up the mountain. It was a really rough drive. Our poor car and my poor stomach. But the church and the views were absolutely worth it.
We met up with my mom and Abby back at the hotel for some relaxation and dinner before heading in for a peaceful night of sleep. Or so we thought. Apparently, it was the opening night for a brand new club on the other side of the valley and the thumping base played ALL.NIGHT.LONG. I’m not kidding, you could still hear it at 8am. We woke up a little grumpy but wanted to enjoy a few more hours at the hotel, so we had breakfast together and then spent over an hour at the indoor pool. Abby’s attitude towards pool time is hit or miss (heartbreaking for this former Orrville Otter and my husband, a Black Oak Swim Club record holder) but she was totally into it! She “swam” up and down the pool and jumped into our arms over and over again. I was sad to check out and look forward to another visit, hopefully without the club music!
Before we knew it, it was time for my mom to head home. Our goodbye was a little easier this time because we know we’ll see her again in about 11 weeks, when we head back to Ohio to await the arrival of baby #2 in December!