Monday, October 16, 2006

Tbilisi in the dark

No, it's not a power cut, although that apparently is not unusual here.

Arrived last night, after a pleasant journey with Austrian Airlines via Vienna. Although I had been fasting most of last week, and was really trying to eat very little (having lost 3.3 kg in 6 days) I had to continue my Cafe Landtmann routine in Vienna. My heart nearly stopped when I saw the entrance boarded up, looking like a building site. Before I turned away disappointedly, though, I spotted a sign leading to the entrance round the corner - phew. Wuerstl were had and peppermint tea, in the interests of clean living.

Then off to the Musikverein for a concert with Nikolaus Harnoncourt, the Concentus Musikus Vienna, and about 6 soloists. The concert was of secular Bach music, including two funny cantatas. Of course I could only stay for the first half...the plane did not wait. It had been difficult to book a ticket on the Musikverein website; although it offers the opportunity to buy your dream ticket, the system then breaks down, so I took pot luck and got an orchestra seat ticket which I thought would be good, only to find myself in the sixth row (with a few rows at the same level in front of me - sightline = 0). I saw some people stood up at the far back, and stepped out of my seat to join them, thinking I could hide a bit behind a statue. However, we were told to sit down - there happened to be an empty seat near me which, through a gap between heads, gave me a good opportunity to observe Mr Harnoncourt in action. His conducting style in this setting, tiny orchestra, small choir, was very sparse and he generally left his soloists to get on with it. The 'production' was very funny - I wondered though whether in some places the tempi could have been taking a little more quickly. The first cantata was one about Pan and someone else, BWV 211; very funny. Harnoncourt spent 20 minutes introducing the rather lengthy cantata, so by 20.30 I began to sweat and wonder whether I would have to rush off the stage in the Musikverein in order to catch the plane. Luckily this was not the case and I made it well.

Tbilisi airport is very easy to travel through; after Lithuania the easiest in the former Soviet Union. No forms to complete, luggage comes through quickly and so I got out very quickly; met by the driver David who had excellent English.

Off into the hotel which is on a little road right up from the Opera House (in which will be a ballet performance later this month). It is a private house with a large central well, off which rooms go in all directions. My room consists of a sitting room, a bedroom part, bathroom and access to a balcony. It is a bit think on the windows department; one set of windows goes out onto the central well, the other onto a rear courtyard. My bedroom has a wee strip of a window high under the ceiling - I suspect another building is built against the side of it. Breakfast and dinner is included and both seem to be very nice, very Georgian - but of course I am still dieting severely. At dinner there was a coffee pot full of wine on the table!

Work is ok; office is freezing - it is rainy and foggy outside and the heating is not yet on (I am not very optimistic on that anyway), so tomorrow it will be the warm winter clothes to wear which thankfully I brought along. Otherwise there will be plenty of work to do.

Impresion of Tbilisi - so far I have only seen it in the dark; got home at 7 pm in time for dinner...looks like there are some quite elegant places, and some posh shops and hotels. Need to investigate further. The Philharmonic orchestra building looks fairly deserted which is a shame. One theatre has a show of the Three penny opera (the play) on. Must find a way to get tickets.