We woke up early on Sunday morning (totally and completely normal in our house for all five of us to be up at dawn, unfortunately). The day looked grey and drizzly, in a way that reminded us of our home in Seattle. But, after a summer in the Republic of Georgia, the grey Sunday somehow felt refreshing and new. The perfect day to hop in our car, hit the open road and explore. And, so we did.
With the kids fully stocked with traveling toys and a full load of road trip music, we jumped on the crazy city streets and were soon surrounded by sprawling fields of green as we headed to the ancient town of Sighnaghi in the Kakheti region of the Republic of Georgia.
First up, passing the donkey carts...
Then, after a couple hours of driving up twisty mountain roads, we caught our first glimpse of the tiled rooftop mountain village of Sighnaghi. We rounded another corner. I became giddy with excitement, the kids oohed and we approached the cobblestone streets with the feeling that we'd discovered something amazing.
We were right. What an amazing little mountain village--truly perched in the middle of nowhere (okay, within the Caucasus Mountains, but really remote by most people's standards). We ditched the car and continued on foot. The air was crisp and my daughter, who is still used to our former Bangkok's home temperatures, got a bit chilled and begged to wear her papa's coat to stay warm. He, of course, handed it over, zipped her up and took her by the hand. This dog followed us around a small park that we stopped at in the city's square. The kids named him 'follow'. We thought it was an entirely appropriate name until he took the lead and literally led us to our lunch time destination.
And, then we ate.... and ate... and ate. At one point during the meal, I found myself quietly sitting in a corner of our restaurant's table devouring Ajarian. My husband was dancing to the Georgian music playing, while holding the baby. My daughter was twirling, completely out of rhythm to the sounds around her, but smiling and laughing and owning the corner of the restaurant that she turned into a dance floor. My son was swaying along with my husband. And, I was loudly making embarrassing 'yumming' sounds and in pure bliss over the discovery of this piece of pure Georgian bliss:
And, then, the khinkali (Georgian dumplings stuffed with a ground meat mixture) arrived and my husband sat down and took over the yumming.
On the mantle behind our table, sat a display of wine bowls awaiting their next drinking customer. We stuck to lemonade. (Incidentally, every soda is referred to as lemonade regardless of the presence of lemons! We enjoyed a pear sparkling beverage.)
After our meal, we thanked the restaurant owners and walked down the cobblestones a bit. When we spied this low sitting powder blue double door, we HAD to go in. An artist colony of sorts sat behind it. Inside an old home, a restaurant conducting wine tastings, a room full of oil paintings and a room full of carpets local to Georgia were up for sale. The kids climbed the stairs through an organic garden featuring tomatoes, basil and tomatillos. Soon after they begged me to explore the wine cave (my answer: Of course!). My husband picked out a couple bottles of wine for us and our 9-month-old nestled deeply into the sling while I browsed the oil paintings.
After that, we browsed the local market and got a quick lesson on needle felting from a local woman selling her wares. Then, we found our car, hopped in and began the drive home. Once home, we got the kids to sleep and popped the cork on one of the two bottles of wine we purchased during our day-- living black wine from the oldest wine producing region in the world. Completely unlike anything I've ever tasted. To be completely honest, the first sip... kind of disappointing after the build up in my mind. But, after the wine caught some air and opened up a bit... wow. Rich syrupy pomegranates and hints of almond. Let's just say, it wasn't too long before the bottle was empty.
And, that, was the little village of Sighnaghi, located in the Kakheti region of Eastern Europe's Georgia, in a day. 3 kids, 2 adults, a bunch of high and twisty hills, loads of cobblestones, rich, warm, welcoming home cooking, a friendly dog and so many memories.