It would be too little to say that the long awaited day off was at the height of the players' expectations; it actually surpassed them, since even players who never attended before the organized excursions during tournaments, this time they did! The free day was thoroughly enjoyed by the ladies and I will try sorting our impressions in their step by step succession, which gradually confirmed the bucolic image pictured by the pre-tournament report and photos.
We made our first stop at one of the famous Georgian wineries (Kakheti is a renowned region for its local wine)...quite an inspired start! Their grape 'juices' are just as good as reported and the successive tasting of several sorts of wine (and later on - cognac) kind of prepared us for the wonderful hours that followed.
A rest day is designed to rest, so no more chess
An empty glass is no joy - the error is corrected!
Difficult to leave such a generous cellar
Harika figuring out how the wine was kept and processed
The players and we all then took part in baking the traditional Georgian sweet, churchkhela, as well as the traditional bread. It became obvious that chess players (or at least the female ones), have multiple abilities: speaking an endless number of languages, cooking, singing and beating men in chess, too.
Ready for the next challenge...
Harika is preparing the traditional sausage-shaped candies called Churchkhela!
Alexandra and Anna did a pretty good job in the Georgian experiment!
Looks as if we went on fishing...I will let you figure out
who's the player behind each and single one of these masterpieces:)
Time to bake....Are you sure about your next move Anna? (It was burning hot!)
Hey! I still have to use those hands tomorrow!
After so much work, it is time to regain the energy
During and after the delicious and rather consistent lunch, we enjoyed the artistic moments, with national songs. It is in the Georgian blood to express their emotions and feelings through music and no lunch or dinner would be complete without it.
Georgia has a wonderful and highly distinctive tradition of polyphonic singing that is at least 2000 years old, maybe 3000, predating Christianity which arrived in Georgia in 326 AD. It is a polyphonic tradition, which means that the voices sing in multi-part, usually unaccompanied, harmony. A particular tradition is the Georgian feast or supra, when songs are sung to accompany toasts made during the meal; because the people here love to toast, too!
Gia Giorgadze, not only the President of the Georgian Chess Federation and
a strong chess player but also a wonderful host!
The fantastic singers' voices are still resounding in my ears and the atmosphere was so unique that it provoked Emil Sutovsky to reveal his hidden talents as well, accompanied by Alexandra Kosteniuk!
Quite a show!
Those who didn't know about Emil's voice, were pleasantly surprised
The very good friends and commentators: Merab Gagunashvili and Maia Lomineishvili
After having such great time, most of the players retired to the hotel to get focused on today's games. I was fortunate to stay for the rest of the touristic tour, which helped me making some further steps in understanding the nature of Georgian people.
We visited a monastery from the fourth century, which is still functional. This is a symbolic illustration of the strength of tradition in the Georgian soul. Georgian people keep their old traditions intact, respecting their ancestors and the family, as well as for the holly ancestral values and spirituality. I believe this is what helps them maintaining their integrity as a nation and makes them emanate optimism and serenity even under stressful circumstances.
Georgia: the cradle of Christianity and wine
Apart from the natural and architectural wonders, I feel that what really makes Georgia so beautiful are Georgian people, possibly because the reversed applies as well: local people consider visitors a blessing! Who wouldn't want to come here then?
For more photos, kindly visit the gallery
By Alina l'Ami