So now we have landed on my second day in magical Tbilisi … my first full day. That turned out to be a wonderful sunny day and was I going to meet up with my photo guide at noon.
I found out that I was able to book a private photo guide from Tbilisi Free Walking tours. Because I understood there were many hidden gems inside the old house and courtyards, but which one could I go inside???? It cost me 100 GL/€28/$38/£29/336SEK, brilliant value for money. I paid after the tour. You can also find them on FB.
First of all, I looked up my dining venture for the evening, only 10 min walk away on Bambis Rigi Street and after that, I walked Kote Afkhazi St up to Liberty Sq … a very interesting street with loads to look at and put the camera against.
Met 2 very nice gentlemen that were interesting in ice hockey and knew our national team very well and big fans of Henrik Lundqvist, our big goalkeeper playing for NY Rangers.
Had plenty of time when I arrived Liberty Sq so I popped into Dunkin’ Donuts for a coffee before meeting up with my guide. Haven’t been to Dunkin’ Donuts since I worked in Victoria, Vancouver Island. Their coffee was excellent.
To find my guide was a bit of a workup because I read my google map wrongly and there were 2 banks with nearly the same name. So there was some walking in subways … and I end up by the Chancellery of the Government of Georgia and was totally lost, a nice guard was going to help … but became busy with cars that weren’t allowed. A young lady with little daughter took over and she … showed me the way. They were on their way to the Griboyedov Theatre for a children event.
Even if I was lost … I caught up my guide, Levan, at the Pushkin Park, in time.
We started up our tour with a great take away coffee from “Double B” on Galaktion Tabidze St (excellent coffee) … and first Levan introduced me to a house that once was a gentleman club because it’s fantastic stairs … I could move around as I wanted between the floors. Same of the steps were in old and some in marble. I can image in the glory days how exclusive the building and the club was.
We walked the streets and Levan told me about the different areas of the cities architecture. And it was very obvious that we were walking through once a very rich part of the city. We stopped by the very impressive house, once owned by two brothers in the oil business. The massive house was then shared by the brothers and their families, today converted to luxury apartments, 13 Geronti Kikodze St. There is even two of them on Booking.com (link to one of the apartments)
Levan talked to me about the architecture and its owners during the XIX century and early Soviet times. These buildings belonged to rich families in XIX century and in early Soviet times (Lenin-Stalins period) turned to communal houses.
The mayor of Tbilisi … he was a big fan of and I can understand why because Tbilisi has become an attractive city to live in .. and to visit. And the investors are standing in queue and changes are happening everywhere. Maybe the rebuilding of the old town should be more carefully done. Some of the new houses are very well done, but there isn’t enough of them. Kakha Kaladze is his name and only 39 years old and an Ex-AC Milan defender A man with visions that can play football on a high level.
We visit courtyards and entrances… I met grandma with her grandchildren. All spoke excellent English. I was surprised that so many elderly people were speaking so good English. Only the bus drivers and taxi drivers that didn’t or they pretended not too. I will never know, will I?????!!!
We visit the house the architect (Viktor Schröter) of Tbilisi’s Opera House, built for his lady friend. Art decor like the opera house. Not allowed to enter the stairs way. In the basement of the building, there was a chocolate museum with cafe, Ivane Machabeli str 17.
I had to ask Levan about the strange “ATM” that are everywhere on the bigger streets with a screen with very big apps. It’s AMT where you pay your household bills. Even at the Metro stations, where they were very busy. What a fantastic idea for those that don’t have internet. LooOooOOove!
We passed the Georgian Hogwarts – 19th century Women’s Gymnasium also called the Sechste Autorisierte Schule on Asatiani St, a very massive, impressive and Gothic building and paste is one of the council renovated old houses, all done free for the tents.
The last building Levan took me to was … one of the most photographed, the unique vintage house in Tbilisi, located on Betlemi Street. It is noteworthy that this eye-catching house is one of the few houses decorated with colourfully stained glass windows in the city.
Another feature of the building is its balconies decorated with exquisite carvings and ornaments as well the beautiful spiral staircase. The building preserved its stained glass windows for over a hundred years.
The house holds a very nice craft/art shop upstairs.
After Betlemi street was it time for lunch and I invited Levan to join me. We picked one of the best vegetarian restaurants in the old town, Cafe Leila. Located on 18 Ioane Shavteli St, on the other side of the street to the Puppet Theater. A very cosy, colourful and warm place … and very busy. I decided to have their Pumpkin soup, superb … and Levan had trout. Next to sat a young American couple living in Hong Kong.
We when Levan and said goodbye by my hotel … it was already 3.30pm. I enjoyed our tour very much and Levan’s company. A very nice young man … the founders of the company and very well travelled, been borrowed images for over 13 years. It was I that decided the tempo of the tour, he gave me and Oscar all the time we needed. Tbilisi Free Walking Tours” do also other walking tours and tours outside Tbilisi. Highly recommend. There will the next time.
When I came back to my hotel was the staff busy with dressing the Christmas tree and putting the decorations up in the reception area. They had a good time while doing it.
Me???!!! I took some images of the hotel inside … and then I went for an afternoon snooze.
My dining adventure happened at Organiquie Josper Grill Bar, on 12 Bambis Rigi Street. So excellent, so I will give its own space.
After dinner, I spent some time with The Peace Bridge, located halfway between the restaurant and my hotel.
“We build too many walls
and not enough bridges.”
(one of my absolute favourite quotes)