I can't sleep in Tbilisi (local time 5:41 a.m.).
I slept relatively well while on my planes from DC to Amsterdam (fantastic personal space and leg room on United international, although no free booze and the media options were lacking for an int. flight) and then from Amsterdam to Tbilisi (slept the whole flight time of 4:15).
Amsterdam's Schiphol International Airport is easily the nicest airport I've ever been to. Very clean, tons of nice shops and bars, and comfortable spaces to relax between flights. The only problem (which is a continual issue in all European countries in my opinion) is the cost of Wi-Fi. It was something like eight euros for 60 minutes of internet access and eighteen euros for an entire day. I guess if people will pay it...
It was quite funny waiting near the gate in Amsterdam. There were tons of other English speakers around my age who had the same "I'm going to teach English in Georgia" type of vibe. It made me think of the first day of grade-school when we're all waiting for the yellow bus to pick us up. Thank God there was assigned seating, I was afraid I might get a cold Seat's Takin' whilst walking up the aisle.
We got into Tbilisi International Airport (quite nice for a developing country) and found our program directors. I got my bag somewhat soon while most everyone else was waiting on theirs. It ended up that all the people who flew from Chicago to Amsterdam had their bags lost to the perils of air travel (everyone blamed the short layover at Schiphol; only 40 minutes).
So half of the 40+teachers do not have their luggage (and still don't; hopefully will get them today).
We had dinner at the hotel (The Bazaleti Palace; close to the airport but as yinzers say, Real Noice) where we got to mingle a bit while also being introduced to the program directors and given our itinerary for the next day. We were originally supposed to be exploring Tbilisi, but plans changed and we are heading to the coast town of Batumi; where we will meet up with the other group of teachers (who arrived on August 1st and will be stationed in Batumi or close to it) and then go to a reception or grand opening of some sort where we will meet the President of Georgia.
I ain't never met no president before. The President of Georgia is a pretty interesting guy named Misha Saakashvili. I had a flew links in the previous post about him, but he's a pretty polarizing fellow; some see him as a forward thinking leader of progressive Western ideas, others as an autocratic war criminal (this is mostly a Russian view-point, since they see him as responsible for killing Ossetians and Russian peace keepers in the conflict of August 2008).
He's paying my salary basically, and he also once replied to Putin's threat of hanging Saakashvili by the balls with saying, "He doesn't have rope long enough." So I like him.
It's a pretty interesting dynamic of teachers that are here. I haven't met everyone but it's your typical wide variety of English teachers; young, old (the older people tend to be very talkative and somewhat awkward), English, American, Canadian.
I'll have more to say later, but last night I hung out with two Americans at a near by bar (we each had 5 draft beers and the total bill came to 25 Lari [$14]... it was a good sign) which had a DJ playing loud Georgian music (I'm gonna wait a little bit to make a judgment on that) and Dogs roaming about (tons of stray Dogs in Georgia including two puppies that roam the parking lot of our hotel; too cute... I'll have pictures up soon).
But the entire night we (and by we, I mean the other two Americans) discussed European politics and USSR history. Another guy, my roommate the first night, just got his masters from Stanford on USSR history and politics. A little over my head, but I'd rather be surrounded by smart people than the boring type... Maybe I'll learn something.