Somehow it seems bigger from the inside that it looks from the outside. "Like the growth rings on an old tree" says Pat. "They grow very close together."
Later I walk to the underground bath house in Tbilisi old town. Small brick beehive domes curve above the street and the smell of sulfur fills the air. Inside, daylight falls from a domed roof on the warm thermal pool, lights the faded elegance of Ottoman tile and marble. Pushkin wrote that he never saw anything more sumptuous than these baths. He was one of the first of many generations of Russian writers who crossed the Caucasus mountains and found in Georgia a place for the imagination and the senses to expand. It is difficult to imagine Russian literature without these encounters - but our western culture has yet to meet the natural and cultural wonders of this small country .
It is almost midnight when I meet Paata Shanshishvili at his office. Paata heads the development project for Georgia's protected areas: the network of wilderness areas which cover a stunning range of natural diversity - from the forested slopes of the Caucasus mountains to the wetlands of the Black Sea Coast.