Or simply known as the sulphur bath. It was a fitting end to our last day in Georgia. And is also last (for the time being, that is) in the series of posts on this gorgeous country.
Legend has it that Tbilisi would not have been the new capital had King Gorgasali not discovered these ‘tbili’ or warm springs! Walking towards the sulphur bath, it is not difficult to lose direction because the strong odour of sulphur (un)beckons you. Situated amidst a seemingly quiet residential area, the baths are distinct to look at with tiled domes that rise just above the ground.
With a persian-like architecture, the baths have been the place for many tbilisians to have their cleansing rituals over the decades. I was informed that in earlier times, Georgian homes weren’t equipped to have a bathroom and with the cold weather, people would pay a weekly visit to the Abanotubani to clean themselves!
Did I mention that the cheapest baths are those that are ‘public? That means, be prepared to strip yourself naked (yes, completely) and join the locals going about their routine with a few shy tourists thrown in. Of course, they are gender-separated and if you’d like to have a hot soak along with massage, a cup of tea and lot of gossip (if you speak georgian, that is) then this is the place to be! There are alternate options as well – private baths for couples or specific groups that want to be on their own and the royal bath that is exclusive, includes cushioned furniture & nicer decor and is of course, pricier.
While I mustered enough courage to try the public bath, save some money and attempt to indulge in local banter, the coy husb coerced me into a private bath. Ah, how boring indeed.
Thankfully, we had no agenda for the rest of the day. Should you visit, do keep in mind that an hour-long bath mandates that a good meal follows and further on, a nice slumber. We visited the abanotubani mid-morning, so enjoyed a long lunch and then went to a local theatre to book tickets for a popular play ‘Stalingrad’. We weren’t too disappointed that it was sold out. It only meant that we could enjoy a brief tbilisian siesta before bidding the city goodbye and heading to the airport.