Where am I?

So, yesterday morning woke up after an awful night’s sleep. Got on 0900 plane to Tbilisi via Prague, with four hour stopover in Prague.

Good. Enough time to find the Tesco’s in Prague and buy 1) summer coat 2) jeans 3) shaving kit. Return to Prague airport.

Gobsmacked to see that plane to Tbilisi is “cancelled”. It turns out that this is a pessimistic interpretation of events. In fact it is simply redirected; still going to Tbilisi, but via Amsterdam. (From Prague. Yes. Right.)

We land in Amsterdam at 1800. I could have driven to Amsterdam airport in time if I had left home at 1430, seven hours after I went out the door. I would have liked seven more hors with my family, on my wife’s birthday. But there we go.

Finally arrive in Tbilisi at 0200 local time this morning. Zoom to hotel. Bed in time to watch Ukraine triumph in Eurovision song contest. Awaiting early morning start again.

In car by 0730, driving from Georgia to Armenia. Impressive works for Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Stopped twice by Georgian traffic cops asking for bribes. Pay them, continue. Last 20 km of road from Georgia to Armenia (along which 80% of Armenia’s exports go) is in shocking state. No decent surface, livestock wandering freely over it. (Perhaps germane that local population largely Azeri rather than Georgian or Armenian?)

Long stop at border. Impressed by my own Russian when I understand my colleague ask “Там нудо пройти?” [Do we have to go over there?] Еventually released into Armenia, my 40th country. Beuatiful place, reminiscent of Ireland (partly because of the soft rain). Livestock still wandering across road, but road in much better condition than in Georgia.

Finally arrive Yerevan at 1500. Sleep briefly. Meet up with boss and his wife (who is also a fan of superb novel Ali and Nino set in these parts 90 years ago). Out to dinner for fantastic Armenian meal at restaurant with authentic folk dancing. Turns out this is not for our benefit but because most of restaurant booked out by sales taskforce for Armenian brandy, mostly young Russian women with dyed hair. We enjoy watching them dance, and sample product.

Back to hotel. Internet. Now bed.

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