travel diary; tiblisi. georgian – a half day of grey and a welcome gift

I arrived at my little hotel, Hotel Villa Mtiebi  just after 7.30am and I didn’t really feel that tired even if I had been traveling for about 13 hours in total. So I unpacked everything and then I enjoyed breakfast. I had booked my room from the day before because only the thought to have to wait for another 7 hours before getting into my room. I got room 2 on ground floor. 

The breakfast was small but very fresh and tasty, the only thing was that they only offered either instant coffee or Turkish, so I went for Turkish and added a lot of milk to it. *smile Love bread basket … and the omelet was made to order.

After breakfast, I got my rain jacket on, a bit misty but not cold … and took on Tbilisi’s old … first of all, I located my evenings dining adventure first of all so I would know where to go in the evening, PurPur. I passed it because the square it was located was under massive reconstruction.

It was a very grey and slight moist morning … but I learned my first Georgian word from the lovely ladies in the souvenir shop on Erekle II St where I bought my fridge magnet … A MUST. “Nakhvamdis” means bye-bye.

The old town is sitting at the foot of the imposing hill capped by the Narikala Fortress and climbing the slopes is Tbilisi Old Town, a labyrinth of narrow streets where wooden balconies look down from old brick-built homes. Doorways lead to hidden courtyards an ancient vines climb to the skies using anything vertical for support.

Parts have been renovated, arguably a little too enthusiastically, so that some streets look like a Disney film set, though far more of these twisting alleys are untouched. They are ramshackle, cracked and crumbling but delightful, enchanting, picturesque and real.

The style is a mix of two influences, the tight winding streets of an Asian or Arabic town interwoven with European, classical Russian and Art Nouveau architecture. A lovely and fascinating place to wander around and Oscar loved everything I put him against.

Erekle II St is a short very trendy street with bars, restaurants and small shops. Just suddenly it just was there … in behind the old dilapidated photogenic houses. The street is just off the Peace Bridge. Really nice area and very popular. There were some wine or beer testing tours going on at one of the bars, even if it was only 11am.

I spent some time on and around the Peace Bridge, open in 2010 … that goes over the Kura River (Mtkvari River), justs belove the Presidential Administration of Georgia, both were designed by the Italian architect Michele De Lucchi. The fairly new built Shangri La Casino is located just by the bridge.

Casinos are a big thing for Georgian because there are so many countries nearby where gambling is not allowed. People are flying into Tbilisi just for the casinos, some of the luxury hotels have their own casinos. It is open 24 hours every day.

I met many healthy looking homeless dogs and cats. All homeless dogs are tagged, castrate and vaccinated. Both the cats and the dogs belong to Tbilisi’s street life and they had all their own streets.

After that I walked  Shavteli St. Just below my hotel … also a street full of restaurants and bars, shops and the stunning 5* Hotel Ambassadori, owned Georgian brothers living in Paris. Shavteli St is also the home of the famous Puppet Teather and the Puppet Teather Museum,  The Gabriadze Theater.

Opened in 1981, has become a much-loved part of Tbilisi’s cultural scene. It’s a small space with only 80 seats, but the puppets here don’t mess around, acting out high-brow dramas such as “The Autumn of Our Springtime” and “The Battle of Stalingrad.” The theatre’s famous tower was built in 2010 and it holds the smallest public clock in the world. If you don’t know about it … you will not find it.

The theatre and the clock tower were decorated with “chichilakis”, which is a Georgian traditional Christmas tree made from dried hazelnut or walnut branches that are shaved to form a small coniferous tree. First I thought it was some kind of dolls.

It was when I sat down for lunch at theatre’s Café Gabriadze that I found what the “chichilaki” is. A truly lovely a place to sit and they use REAL napkins ((just love it)… and the food is great. My waitress gave me a “chichilaki” as a welcome present when I left. I’m supposed to burn it after 7th of January with they celebrate Christmas in Georgian.

At the cafe I met a very nice couple from Hong Kong that is living in Dubai, they were working the cancer research. It was their second visit to Tbilisi. For lunch, I had a warm chicken liver salad and a fantastic home lemonade with mint. And as I sat there, I felt that I was ready for bed. I had walked around for 3,5 hours by then. So after my cappuccino was it straight back to the hotel, that was only 5 min. away.

Some photo shooting during those 5 mins… and after that straight to bed.

I slept for about 3,5 hours … and getting ready for my dinner at PurPur.

PurPur, It’s supposed to be one of the best restaurants in the old town and the interior was fantastic … up on the second floor of the old building.

Very quiet when I arrived but was the evening progressed it was filling up. I love the setting and the decor, the food was just okay – the wine, my first acquaintance with Georgian wines and what an exquisite experience that was.

Georgian wine history goes back 8000 years, so they know what they are doing.

I met a Danish couple that lives in Tbilisi for a year back and studying Georgian art and also a very nice young couple, newly married. He was from Tbilisi and she was from Russia. They invited me over to their table … what a nice gesture, so I join them with my cappuccino and orange cheesecake. 

Then it was time to do the 10 min walk back to the hotel. Tbilisi is a very safe city, hardly no crimes at all and crime against women none exciting … and what the locals claim, is their police force … good guys, people’s police. 

“If you keep wandering in the dark streets,
maybe it is because you find peace
in the darkness rather than in the light!”
Mehmet Murat ildan



21 thoughts on “travel diary; tiblisi. georgian – a half day of grey and a welcome gift

      • Sue, I know you would! But … no proper sidewalks in the old town. So sorry. I don’t know how people with a walking disability manage. I thought about it every day when I was out. Not even a lift up to the Peace Bridge. I didn’t see anyone with a walking disability neither. One minute I was on the narrow sidewalk and the next a big tree was in the middle of it. Didn’t see any praams neither.

      • I think you will find that the disabled in some countries just don’t get out…tragic. So, alas, I will probably have to miss Georgia

      • Yes, it’s truly terrible … that places are not more accessible. Here in Sweden we doing pretty well, but could do a lot more. The main big streets no problem .. they have very wide sidewalks, but that is not the Tbilisi you are interested in. I wish I could told you differently. There was even a very popular church for the locals not from where I stayed, with loads steps down … no wheel chair access at all. Maybe from the back and the riverside sidewalk, but that is one hell of detour. It makes me so upset.

      • Well, I am interested in the old part! I would just have to stay in a hotel in the old part, and accept that I wouldn’t stray too far from there!

      • Yes, there is a luxury hotel by the Puppet Theater, but that street is very short .. but new walking friendly street – but not much of the old houses along that street, after that the chances are small that you will be able to use your walking chair. My hotel a true gem … in with the old town, but narrow streets and pavements .. very poor. It’s uphill too.

  1. Gloriously withered and worn! Fantastic old buildings that brings back the feeling of Russia in the 80’s. Glad you caught the feeling before it disappears in this “new” world. Looking forward to more!

    • Never been to Russia … but when I went inside same houses courtyards did my thoughts go to Tolstoy’s books … that I have seen as TV films. Tbilisi has been a very rich part of Russia ones. But it has also Asian and Jewish settlement. All their churches are standing in bundle in middle of the old town. Yes, I wish they had kept some of the all iron balconies and worked with recycling some of the old wood. Some new houses looks very nice, but most … sorry. I will go back in 2020. I want to see their famous Georgian National Ballet Sukhishvili, that was preforming in New York during December.
      There is a lot more to come, don’t worry. Thank you so much, A-C!

  2. 🙂 Dear Wivi,
    thanks for sharing all the images and experiences. I would have never thought of traveling to Tblisi before. But it sounds interesting.
    Yum, you cake looks delicious!!! Makes me want a cup of coffee and something sweet to go with it.
    Have a lovely Sunday!
    Many hugs xoxo 🙂

    • Dia, you are my kind of girl … for sure, coffee and a piece of cake .. never wrong. *smile I tell you I have never thought about Georgian neither. It is all down a short trailer on CNN. When I saw that during my Christmas in Krakow I just knew. I have been looking on Baku for the last two years, but I never thought about Tbilisi and what I understand Georgian is a breathtakingly beautiful country. I met quite a few couples that had been in Tbilisi up to 4 times, so I can’t be wrong.
      2020 I will go back, looking at the Spring .. maybe over Easter.

  3. I love the joy you take in life, and in finding new fascinating places to spend time. I could certainly see Sue there. And, oh, that cheesecake! I’ve met a lovely Swedish lady here, in my t’ai chi group, and this morning she joined us walkers. Christina has 4 stents in her heart! You’d never guess from the vitality. 🙂 🙂 Sending hugs to you, hon!

    • Jo, I have to take on life the best I can … and to be honest it is getting tougher for me to travel. Sue would have loved Tbilisi … but very not very handicap friendly, especially is the old town … no proper sidewalks at. and if there is … suddenly big trees are in the middle of them. No lifts neither, not even up to the Peace bridge. I don’t think in the metro neither.
      Lovely that you got new friends … say hello to Christina from me. Have a lovely week, Girlfriend. MondayHug!

  4. Your words made me feel like I was walking the photogenic streets alongside you. Love the filigree balconies and the clock tower. Will you be burning your chichilaki or saving it as a keepsake I wonder?

    • Thank you, Suzanne … a pleasure to have you walking with. Of course I will keep my chichilaki. It is very precious to me. Looking at dates now for my return in 2020. In the Spring I think.

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