I did my own little research on Georgia and even before visiting it, decided that I was in love with Tbilisi. Which was weird in a way because, let’s face it, we’re not talking about Paris or Rome here.
The aim was to stay in the city for a couple of days and then move around. We ended up spending 4 of 7 days in Tbilisi! Skadaveli was partly to blame for that. A quirky and exceptionally clean B&B and the only accommodation booked for 2 nights after we landed. We liked it so much that we changed our itinerary based on recommendations from Irakli, the chatty owner. On an unrelated note, I was taken by Georgian names. Like the Gargashvili’s, Tugushi’s and Mukhrani’s. Found them a tad bohemian, like the city!
- we’d be walking on an unpretentious street, chaotic with traffic & vendors selling their wares when suddenly we’d stumble upon quirky avant-garde structures.
- the locals seemed to have these broad hard appearance but on attempting to make a conversation, they were so wonderfully warm & helpful despite that neither of us spoke the others’ language.
- there were churches in every nook and corner and invariably people would stop by to pray or walk as they kept their rosaries moving. However, as the sun set, Tbilisi nightlife was at its best.
- Tbilisi is interesting in a way that cities in Europe and Asia are not. In a way that I cannot explain (or rather am not explaining well.) Sit outside one of the cafes (I’d recommend ‘Machakhela’) for a couple of hours, dive into a Khachapuri and sip on a Natakhtari, watch the locals, and you’ll know why.
Tbilisi is not a very big city. Best way to see it : WALK WALK WALK
Here are some of the things we did.
- Took a marshrutka from the airport. These are mini-buses that are a popular mode of transport among locals and super cheap compared to cabs. Was small and stuffy with closed windows due to a drizzle however was entertained to a Yo-Yo-Honey-Singh song (goodness me, really) from a mobile phone of a Georgian youngster sitting in front of us. He clearly wanted to welcome us. And how!
- Climbed up the ancient Narikala Fortress and had a lovely view of the city.
- Strolled past the Peace bridge multiple times wondered what was the idea behind building it. It is LED lit at night and pretty, nevertheless.
- Trudged uphill to Sameba Cathedral, a definite must-see simply because of its sheer grandeur and size.
- Used the funicular to go up to Mtatsminda Park (you can even walk but by the end we had gotten lazy). There’s even a huge ferris wheel on top but unfortunately it wasn’t functional being a weekday. We waited until sunset to see the Sameba Cathedral glow. And a surprising cant-miss sight is the TV tower which could give Burj Khalifa a run for its money. (Ok, i’m kidding but it is glitteringly eye-catching)
- Spent the last morning relaxing at the Sulphur bath.
Simply put, Tbilisi is beautiful. A city that does best to preserve its orthodox christian traditions yet embracing modernity in its own unorthodox fashion.
Take my word(s). Experience this gorgeous city.