Financial Friday 37

Locations: Lagodekhi, Tbilisi [Republic of Georgia]

Week 37 is over. Let’s see what my wallet’s been up to.

Transportation

On Friday, Sunday, Monday, and Thursday, my travel expenses can be explained by metro trips: $0.19 per trip. Most of them were for language exchanges, but Sunday’s was to see see a friend who left Georgia on Monday. You will be missed…until I see you again.

On Tuesday, a friend and I went to ლაგოდეხი (Lagodehki). The travel expense is from catching a mini-bus after we’d made it most of the way out there. We went hiking in the mountains, but more on that in the ‘other’ section.

On Wednesday, we took a mini-bus back to თბილისი (Tbilisi): $2.70. And we took the metro from where the bus dropped us to the house. The mini-buses / large vans called ‘marshutkas’ by the locals are a cheap way to get around, but they can get rather crowded. This one was no exception as it started off all right, but a few people had to stand towards the end.

Accommodation

The rent on the house is $5.48 per day this month.

On Friday, I payed the gas bill. My portion came out to $1.35. Considering how much we use the kitchen, that’s really cheap.

On Tuesday, the hostel / guesthouse came out to $7.71. Two of us rented a 3 person room, and that’s what my half came to.

Food

On Sunday, I splurged a little for the goodbye party. I ordered trout at a restaurant, and was surprised to find they’d grilled a whole fish! It was delicious though. For reference, the aforementioned trout and a salad, and a glass of wine and some fries at a bar all came out to $11.57. I love it here.

Tuesday and Wednesday involved finding food in Lagodekhi so that’s why they’re a little higher. The food out there is even cheaper than Tbilisi! We ate pretty well.

Other

Travel insurance: $8.64 per day.

VPN service: $0.13 per day.

Amazon Prime: $0.33 per day.

On Friday, I bought a book: $5.87. It’s called ‘Any Way You Can’, and I expect it to teach me a lot about how my body processes energy. I also expect a rather large portion of it to be dedicated to talking about ketones. I’ve developed a mild fascination with the ‘keto’ thing so it should be an interesting read.

On Tuesday, a couple friends an I decided to take a ‘day trip’: $19.28. It included a tour of a wine bottling factory (as well as a lot of wine tasting), a trip to სიღნაღი (Sighnaghi) which is called the romance capital of Georgia, and a stop along the road to see how Georgian bread is made.

Right before the trip back to Tbilisi, it was about half way to Lagodekhi so a friend and I hopped off. It wasn’t easy convincing him to let us off at the main road to go hitchhiking. I think he figured it was an unreliable means of transportation. But we flagged down a truck driver who took us part of the way, and a mini-bus that finished it. If you’re willing to deal with unpredictable times, you can wait along bus routes, flag one down, and pay a fraction of the price for the whole ride.

Summary

Week 37
Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Total
Travel 0.39 0 0.39 0.39 1.54 2.89 0.19 5.79
Lodging 6.83 5.48 5.48 5.48 13.19 5.48 5.48 47.42
Food 6.05 0.46 13.96 5.59 14.45 9.06 1.93 51.5
Other 14.97 9.1 9.1 9.1 29.15 9.1 9.1 89.62
Total 28.24 15.04 28.93 20.56 58.33 26.53 16.7 194.33

So, it was a little more expensive than just staying in Tbilisi, but I had a lot of fun. See you all next week.

Financial Friday 36

Location: Tbilisi [Republic of Georgia]

Week 36 has come and gone. Let’s see where I spent my money….

Transportation

All transportation costs this week were for the metro, and they all involved going to some sort of language event. I’ve got a couple people helping me with language exchanges so there’s a lot of bouncing around town. For reference, each metro ride costs $0.19.

Accommodation

This is pretty straightforward. We changed months this week, and the number of days in the month with them. This change in the number of days is the reason the numbers change slightly.

Food

On Sunday, we (my roommates and I) hosted a barbecue. Food costs for that day are all BBQ related. The rest is a combination of grocery shopping, and going out.

Other

Travel insurance: $8.64 per day.

VPN service: $0.13 per day.

Amazon Prime: $0.33 per day.

On Tuesday, I bought a pair if hiking shoes: $57.83. Next week, I’m going to spend all day hiking. I’ve done a fair amount of walking in my current shoes, but never spent all day hiking in them so I figured I should get specialized shoes.

Summary

Week 36
Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Total
Travel 0.58 0.39 0 0.19 0.39 0.39 0.39 2.33
Lodging 5.67 5.67 5.67 5.48 5.48 5.48 5.48 38.93
Food 8.95 1.35 11.66 11.37 9.23 0 6.38 48.94
Other 9.1 9.1 9.1 9.1 66.93 9.1 9.1 121.53
Total 24.3 16.51 26.43 26.14 82.03 14.97 21.35 211.73

This was a pretty good week…. Actually, really good if I subtract the shoes. And since a new month arrived this week….

Sep 18
Week 32 Week 33 Week 34 Week 35 Week 36 Total
Travel 12 18.19 0.76 3.48 0.97 35.4
Lodging 44.85 61.35 51.04 39.69 17.01 213.94
Food 42.81 46.3 6.85 30.12 21.96 148.04
Other 69.6 271.31 79.91 204.98 27.3 653.1
Total 169.26 397.15 138.56 278.27 67.24 1050.48

This is about average. So if you live your life like mine, this is roughly what you can expect to spend in a month. See you all next week.

Financial Friday 35

Location: Tbilisi [Republic of Georgia]

I’ve been traveling for 2/3 of a year. Let’s see where my money went this week.

Transportation

On Saturday, I rode the metro downtown: $0.19. I had a bit of a pub crawl which involved a lot of drinking, and meeting new people.

By the time 5 AM rolled around, taxis were the only method of transportation available: $1.93. It’s a bit expensive for a cab here, but I was the only passenger so….

On Monday, I took the metro twice: $0.39. The first time was to go to the hospital (more on that later). The second was to go to English club after which I walked home.

On Tuesday, I took the metro twice: $0.39. These trips were to and from Georgian club where I got to show everyone just how terrible my Georgian is.

On Wednesday, I took the metro 3 times. To and from a language exchange, and downtown to hit up a bar that I walked home from.

Accommodation

Rent this month is $5.67 per day, and that’s all for this section. Easy peasy….

Food

There isn’t much to report here. Saturday was a bit more expensive as I went out for food twice.

Other

On Friday night, I had a bit of a scare. I wasn’t feeling well, and my head was messing with me a bit. Since one of the symptoms was chest pain and I still felt shitty on Saturday, I decided to go to the hospital. After a bunch of tests that determined I wasn’t in danger of imminent death, they told me to come back on Monday for another test. The bill for this visit was $105.04.

On Monday, I went back to the hospital for a stress test: $21.24. After that didn’t turn up anything troubling, I went home feeling much better. There’s still something not quite right that I want to get checked out, but I know I’m not going to die so….

On Thursday, I topped up my data for my travel carrier: $15.00. Not very exciting….

Summary

Week 35
Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Total
Travel 0 2.12 0 0.39 0.39 0.58 0 3.48
Lodging 5.67 5.67 5.67 5.67 5.67 5.67 5.67 39.69
Food 0 12.35 6.33 6.56 0 4.88 0 30.12
Other 9.1 114.14 9.1 30.34 9.1 9.1 24.1 204.98
Total 14.77 134.28 21.1 42.96 15.16 20.23 29.77 278.27

So this week was a little more expensive than last. I attribute it to my little hospital debacle. Considering all those tests would have cost me at least 4 times as much in the US, I’m still pretty happy though. I should post something about my hospital visit….

Anyway, see you all next week for more financial ramblings.

Financial Friday 34

Location: Tbilisi [Republic of Georgia]

You all should know the deal by now. Let’s see where my money went this week.

Transportation

I was in თიბილისი (Tbilisi) all week so this is pretty boring. I took the metro twice on Tuesday; once on Monday and Thursday as I was out too late to take it back. It would be nice if it ran past midnight. Fortunately, I live close enough to downtown that I can walk home.

Accommodation

Rent for this month comes out to $5.67 per day.

On Friday, I paid the water and electricity bill. Split 4 ways my portion came out to $9.62. Far less than in the West.

On Tuesday, the gas bill was due. Also split 4 ways, my portion was $1.73. And we’ve been doing a lot of cooking.

Food

This came out very cheap. Between a guy I’m teaching English to taking me out for dinner, and eating previously bought groceries, I spent almost nothing for the week.

Other

Far too expensive travel insurance: $8.64 per day.

VPN service: $0.13 per day.

Amazon Prime account: $0.33 per day.

On Saturday, I topped up my data on my Georgian phone: $12.36. That’s for 15G of mobile data for reference.

On Tuesday, we finally got internet service at the house: $3.85. The maintenance guy claims the providers haven’t run cables in this area yet thus making unlimited services unavailable. He bought a used box that pulls in a cell signal, and broadcasts is back out. The problem with that is it runs a little over $11.00 per 50G of data. If it was just me, that wouldn’t be so bad, but the whole house is using it, and we’ve been blowing through data like a hurricane. We’re going to have to find another solution here. Strangling the landlord and maintenance guy has come to mind, but society tends to not like it when you do that….

Summary

Week 34
Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Total
Travel 0 0 0 0.19 0.38 0 0.19 0.76
Lodging 15.29 5.67 5.67 5.67 7.4 5.67 5.67 51.04
Food 0 0 0 0.77 1.69 4.39 0 6.85
Other 9.1 21.46 9.1 12.95 9.1 9.1 9.1 79.91
Total 24.39 27.13 14.77 19.58 18.57 19.16 14.96 138.56

So this has been a pretty cheap week. My wallet is pretty happy about it; especially since I had to buy a new phone last week.

Anyway, I hope someone enjoyed reading this. See you all next week.

The Stolen Phone Incident

Date Time Coordinates: 9 Sep 2018 CE (Common Era), Batumi, Republic of Georgia, Earth, Sol System.

I’ve been in ბათუმი (Batumi) for a couple days now. This is my second visit; the first was enough to make me form the opinion that the city is too touristy. There’s been nothing about this visit that’s changed my mind. I’ve spent the last few days going out occasionally for food and a little sight-seeing, but most of my time has been spent surfing the internet and catching up on everything I’ve missed. I have internet access back in თბილისი (Tbilisi), but it’s not unlimited so I haven’t been doing anything that requires a lot of bandwidth.

My alarm goes off at 0900. I turn it off, and spend 5-10 minutes trying to convince myself that I should get up (I’m not used to getting up this ‘early’). I go to the bathroom, and start packing; we need to check out by 1000. I debate when I should wake up my travel companion. Fortunately, he gets up on his own a few minutes into tossing what little I have into my backpack.

I go to the kitchen, start some water warming up for tea, and pull a cup of yogurt out of the refrigerator (my breakfast). By the time I’m done with the yogurt, the tea is almost ready. I discover that being up this ‘early’ has benefits; the other people staying at the hostel are up, and we chat for a little while….

Okay, maybe a bit longer than a little while; a few hours later…we check out. It’s well after the official check out time, but the owner’s cool about it. We ask if we can leave our bags while we go get lunch and explore. We don’t want to lug our things around all day.

My travel-mate has looked up the ‘best’ place for ხაჩაპური (khachapouri) in town. The place looks busy (a good sign) so we find a place, and sit down.

Quick note: In Georgia, it’s common to just find a table and seat yourself. This is even expected by the local servers. Also, you typically have to flag down a server when you want to add something to your order or pay your bill as they won’t normally come back to check on you. Sometimes, you even have to flag someone down to place your initial order. The whole thing seems very strange to me, and took some getting used to.

We order a couple medium sized khachapouri, and start talking about our time out here with a few smatterings of business ideas (the guy I was with loves coming up with crazy ways to make money; it’s like a hobby of his). Then our meal comes out. I’m immediately glad I didn’t order a large as this ‘medium’ is huge. I manage to scarf most of it down like the little piggy I am, but I was nowhere close to finishing all of it.

We pay our bill, and wander around the city for a couple hours until it’s time to start heading for the train station. We go back to the hostel, check out for real this time, and head out to the street to find a taxi.

Problem number one: both Yandex and Taxify don’t have any drivers available. After hitting refresh for 5 minutes, we finally find a driver. Except that he’s not moving. We wait 10 minutes. Still no movement. We decide to wait 5 more. Still nothing. Enough of this; we’ll just flag down a passing taxi. It’s not what we normally like to do because they charge more, but we really need to get to the train station so….

We flag one down, and tell him we’d like to go to the train station. He says he can take us. My travel-mate asks about the price: 10 Lari. He counters 6. The driver says 7. We agree. It’s still twice as expensive as a Yandex, but we can only expect so much; we did flag the guy down after all. We arrive at the train station, pay the driver, and head for the ticket counter.

Problem number 2: the cashier wants 99 Lari each to get back to Tbilisi. What!? There’s no reason it should cost that much. We tell her we’ll think about it, and wander off to discuss our options. We decide to get another attendant; maybe the one we got had something weird going on. She didn’t; still 99 Lari. We ask about the next train (that leaves 45 minutes after the one we were trying to initially catch). Still 99 Lari.

WTF!? We ask why it’s so expensive. Apparently, all the second class seats are sold out. The price we’d been quoted was for first class.

Considering our second class tickets going the other way were 24 Lari, I wonder what makes first class so special. Second class is pretty nice. Do they have strippers and free drinks in first class? Actually, that’s not a bad idea. Considering how many rich Russians travel between those two cities, I could probably make a small fortune if I offered a ‘strip club’ car during high season. They’re going to be stuck on a train for 5 hours so might as well provide something entertaining right? But I digress….

I saw a bus station half a block away from the train station. We should go down there and see what they’re charging. On the way over, I decide to check the time and…shit! Where’s my Georgian phone? I always put it in the same place, and it’s not in that pocket. I’ll worry about this later. Right now, we need to get to the bus station, and see what the deal is.

We get to the bus station, and ask the guy if anything’s going to Tbilisi. He writes down 1800, and says “go”. Okay, there’s a bus that leaves at 1800. We ask how much it costs. 25 Lari each. There we go; something reasonable. We buy tickets, load up, and wait for the appointed time.

By now, I’ve figured out my phone must have fallen out in the taxi. I pull up my travel phone, and pull up Google’s tracking service. My phone’s in the middle of downtown Batumi in the middle of the street. Okay, so it definitely fell out in the taxi.

My travel-mate pulls out his Georgian phone and calls my lost phone. He has a brief conversation with the driver who agrees to bring the phone to the bus station. Nice, I’ll get it back, and will only have to pay a fraction of the phone’s value as a ‘thank you’ for returning it.

We wait 15 minutes; still no sign of the driver. I check Google’s locator again to see where he is. Hmm…Google says it can’t locate it. My travel-mate tries to call it again, and it goes straight to voicemail. It’s turned off. That bastard turned my phone off on purpose!

I go back onto Google’s page and tell it to delete the contents of my phone the next time it’s turned on. That asshole might have stolen my phone, but I’ll be damned if I let him have my data. I spend the next few minutes stewing, and then it’s time to leave.

The bus takes 6.5 long hours to get back to Tbilisi. By the time it arrives, it’s 0030. At least I slept a little on the ride over. Now I can just walk over to the metro and…wait, what time is it again? Damn it, the metro stops running at midnight. I guess I’ll have to walk home.

I arrive home, get ready for bed, and read more of the “Song of Ice and Fire” series. There’s nothing like reading a book to get you tired, and calm your mind down a bit.

The next day, I went to my local mobile carrier, and got another phone and SIM. The woman at the counter told me I could go to the police with the IMEI number, and they might be able to get it back. So…if something like this happens to you, there’s something you can do even though it’s not not much.

And that’s the long version of how my phone was lost/stolen. Occasionally, shit like this happens when traveling, but it’s still so much better than being back ‘home’ (if it can still be called that) working my ‘normal’ job. I’ve seen places, and hung out with people that I never would have found if I hadn’t ventured off to see what’s out here. And who knows; maybe someday I’ll run into you!

Stay frosty, people….

Financial Friday 33

Locations: Batumi, Tbilisi [Republic of Georgia]

Week 33 of travel has come and gone. Let’s see what my wallet’s been up to.

Transportation

On Sunday, my friend and I took a taxi to the ბაგუმი (Batumi) train station: $2.74. This was considerably more expensive than most taxis since neither Yandex nor Taxify had available drivers. We ended up flagging down a taxi on the street. This is not recommended, but it was either that or not make it to the station on time so….

When we got to the ticket desk, we discovered that all the 2nd class seats were booked (on 2 trains). They wanted 99 Lari ($38.72) for 1st class tickets. We decided that was far too expensive, and walked over to the bus station. Tickets for a tiny ass bus were far more affordable: $9.78. Six hours later we arrived back ‘home’ in თბილისი (Tbilisi).

On Monday, I took the metro twice to go to English club and back: $0.39.

On Tuesday, I also took the metro twice to get to ქართული (Georgian) club: $0.39. Have I mentioned I love the metro here?

Wednesday was insane. I ended up taking 3 taxi rides bouncing all over Tbilisi: $4.50 for all of them. Considering it took around an hour for all that travel, I think I did pretty well on this deal.

On Thursday…you guessed it; more metro: $0.39. This time it was to meet someone for a language exchange. I think I made more progress in an hour than all of my previous study in regard to trying to pronounce those crazy Georgian consonants. I’m still not good at it, but I’m definitely improving.

Accommodation

So there’s the house: $5.67 per day for this month.

Friday and Saturday also included the hostel in Batumi: $10.83 per night. Even put together, the housing expense is pretty reasonable.

Food

Friday and Saturday involved a lot of going out in Batumi for meals.

Wednesday was a crazy, bounce-all-over-town day which inevitably involved a lot of going out and drinking.

Thursday involved a trip to the grocery store as well as a meal out so it looks ‘expensive’ as well.

Other

Way too expensive travel insurance: $8.64 per day.

VPN service: $0.13 per day. Always use protection.

Amazon Prime membership: $0.33 per day.

On Sunday, my Georgian phone was stolen. So on Monday, I bought another one: $192.66. I know it seems like a lot, but the price of data plans on it are so much cheaper than with my ‘travel’ phone. I’ll make up for it in a month or two.

On Wednesday, I had to top up my ‘travel’ phone’s data plan: $15.00. It’ll be worth it when I hit the road again; I swear.

Summary

Week 33
Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Total
Travel 0 0 12.52 0.39 0.39 4.5 0.39 18.19
Lodging 16.5 16.5 5.67 5.67 5.67 5.67 5.67 61.35
Food 7.07 9.16 4.73 0 5.69 9.15 10.5 46.3
Other 9.1 9.1 9.1 201.71 9.1 24.1 9.1 271.31
Total 32.67 34.76 32.02 207.77 20.85 43.42 25.66 397.15

So yeah, I went over budget this week, and spent a lot more than normal for Georgia. I attribute it all to the nearly $200 phone. Could I have gotten a cheaper one? Yes, but I wanted something nice. I think it’s worth it to splurge on something you use all the time.

Anyway, that wraps it up for this week. See you all next week for another Financial Friday…. And I think I’ll write something about the phone stealing incident this week too. I could make a decent story out of that.

Financial Friday 32

Locations: Tbilisi, Batumi [Republic of Georgia]

Week 32 on the road, and I’ve finally done something ‘interesting’. Here we go….

Transportation

On Saturday, I took the metro twice: $0.41. I went to visit some friends in a different part of town. We hung out for a while and took care of some ‘business’.

Also on Saturday, we took a cab: $1.22 for my portion. A friend was trying to get out of his rental contract that was way too high for თბილისი (Tbilisi). Another friend has been here for over a year, and knows a thing or two about Georgian law. He was able to scare them into not demanding an extra month of rent.

Quick tip: If you’re looking to rent an apartment in Tbilisi, you shouldn’t pay any more than $300 per month. Most likely, it should be around $200 per month. Don’t get ripped off.

On Monday, I took the metro to English Club: $0.20. It’s proven to be a fantastic way to meet people, and help them with their English. Afterwards, some of us went out to a bar, and it was later than the metro runs by the time we were finished. So no return trip (I walked home).

On Thursday, a friend and I decided to go to ბათუმი (Batumi). The train ticket was $9.00 which is a lot for Georgia. It must still be tourist season so it was far more expensive than when I went from Batumi to ქუთაისი (Kutaisi) to Tbilisi in early June. This city is a tourist trap, but a relatively cheap one.

We also took a taxi from the train station to the hostel: $1.17. Normally, I would have walked, but a more than 1 hour walk with bags didn’t sound appealing to my friend. The ride was cheap enough, and we even got some free chacha (Georgian liquor; it’s distilled from wine and is seldom lower than 60% alcohol)! The driver tried to give us his number so we could call him again whenever we needed a ride, but that’s not how we roll.

Travel tip: If you want to take taxis in Georgia, the Yandex app is going to be your best friend. It’s far cheaper than a normal cab fare.

Accommodation

There’s the house rental: $5.48 per day for August and $5.67 per day for September. Hello different number of days in a month.

We’re also staying in a hostel in Batumi: $10.83 per day. That’s why Friday looks so expensive under housing.

Food

On Saturday, I was hanging with friends so we went out to eat. That’s just what you do with friends.

On Tuesday, we (my roommates and I) threw a barbecue and invited a bunch of people over. There were over 20 people crammed into our little yard. We ran out of chairs and tables, but it was still a good time. That’s also why Monday’s and Tuesday’s food bills are higher than ‘normal’.

On Thursday, we were in Batumi so we ‘had’ to visit a few restaurants.

Other

Travel insurance: $8.64 per day.

VPN service: $0.13 per day.

On Friday, my Amazon Prime service renewed itself: $0.33 per day. If I wanted to be cheap, I could drop it. But I still occasionally order things, and have friends forward them to me. Between that and the TV series, I still think it’s worth it.

Speaking of ordering and having things forwarded…. On Saturday (or was it Friday; it’s listed under Saturday anyway), the dog whistle I ordered off Amazon was dropped in the mail. The cost for shipping a dog whistle from the States to Georgia is $15.00 (if you send it via USPS that is). Now I just get to wait a few weeks for it to show up.

On Tuesday, we had a lady come by to clean the house. My portion came out to $10.00. It was well worth it for the common areas that always manage to get filthy.

Summary

Week 32
Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Total
Travel 0 1.63 0 0.2 0 0 10.17 12
Lodging 5.48 5.67 5.67 5.67 5.67 5.67 16.5 50.33
Food 4.18 8.97 0.82 7.16 15.88 0.55 9.43 46.99
Other 14.1 14.1 9.1 9.1 19.1 9.1 9.1 83.7
Total 23.76 30.37 15.59 22.13 40.65 15.32 45.2 193.02

So you can see this week was still pretty good despite the barbecue and trip to Batumi. We also hit a new month this week so you know what that means….

Aug 18
Week 27 Week 28 Week 29 Week 30 Week 31 Week 32 Total
Travel 0 0.41 2.25 0.82 0.2 0 3.68
Lodging 10.96 39.67 74.41 38.36 38.36 5.48 201.76
Food 5.87 25.23 33.74 15.44 10.31 4.18 90.59
Other 36.77 95.87 102.93 79.53 61.39 14.1 376.49
Total 53.6 161.18 213.33 134.15 110.26 23.76 696.28

August has been (by far) the cheapest month so far. If you settle somewhere, and live a ‘normal’ (at least for me) life, it’s really not that expensive to live a traveler life style. This is far less than I was spending at ‘home’ in the States. So if you’re from the West and you think travel is unobtainable, I have news for you: you too can do this.

Until next week….