travel diary: tbilisi, georgian – christmas eve with flea market, some dancing and cream on the mash

Christmas Eve and the most important day of Christmas for us Swedes, that is the day when Santa is coming and knocking on the door in the early evening and ask if everybody has been behaving during the past year. Yes means … that he will hand over all presents in person.

For my Christmas Eve, I had a lot planned and I was given a sunny day again.

First in my dance program for the day was a visit to Tbilisi’s famous flea market, Dry Bridge Market … a market that is a must and they are there all 7 days of the week.

I had misjudged the distance to the market – I thought it was just beside the City Hall, but it was over on the next bridge.

The City Hall, an amazing building and service set up (the modern Tbilisi) … looks like a bunch of mushrooms and so busy. There on the ground floor, you get service for everything that is important in life: driving and marriage licence, passports … registration of newborn, death and move-ins. Hundreds of service desks on one floor (all take with customers) . It was packed with people .. there was a wall full of photobooths, PCs and a nice little cafe …  An amazing buzz.

I walked along the busy main road, passed through the Dedaena Park and along the Kura river bank to Saarbruecken bridge.

Dry Bridge Market is a massive flea market, but also craft and art. I don’t know anything about antiques, but for my friend Margurithe, it would have been like Christmas Eve for her too. She always has an eye for bargains and values.

I walked around for about 2 hours “window shopping” … everything from old Russian passport to beautiful modern art. Didn’t buy anything, but I was close to buying a wool scarf

It was very enjoyable to walk around and look at all the stuff that was for sale and not one trader was nagging me or pushing their products.

Then I found a little-wired and wonderful cafe, Art Cafe at the end of the market park. It was high time for a great cappuccino.  The cafe looked like it was located in a container with a small patio. Inside the cafe was the owner and her helper, two fantastic funny, friendly and helpful ladies. The cafe was full of different instruments and the most fantastic leopard patterned crockery. A very tiny cafe …. 

There was some kind of cake on the counter … so I took a slice with the cafe. And when I sat there the owner put Christmas music on … first “Last Christmas” with Wham. The first Christmas song I had heard in 2018 and I went straight into Christmas mood. It was a fantastic feeling. It felt so good.

The second song was “All I Want for Christmas” with Mariah Carey and then I just felt that I had to do some dance moves … and after a couple of minutes, the two ladies were joining me. There wasn’t much space between the tables for any bigger moves, but we did the best of the floor space. Fantastic!!!!! There was we 3 ladies dancing at Christmas. Then suddenly a nice Philippine couple came in and joined us in the dance, so she played the song again. I think that there where sound speakers on the outside.

When I left the cafe … I was on such high. I needed it because I was going to take on public transport in Tbilisi. Back up on Saarbruecken bridge and bus #20. You can pay cash or use  Metromoney cards (that you buy at Metro stations), for 0.50GEL/$0.20/€0.16/£0.30/3.40SEK can you travel for 1 hour. The cash goes in a box beside the driver and there is a card reader.

#20 is a small yellow bus … and they are absolutely everywhere, but no real rules. More minivans than buses and the drivers don’t speak English, you don’t know what door they will open to let you on and off. No stop buttons inside the bus and no indication what stop will be the next. Absolutely mad. Most yellow buses are old and very uncomfortable. But they are like flies on a sugar cube, comes in bunches. If you don’t wave them down … they don’t stop and they can stop anywhere along the street where the stop is. On smaller streets, you can wave them down anywhere!!!! 

I was going 3 stops, so I had to count, but if nobody was getting off and on at stop … they don’t stop – so you have to go on your common sense. I had my Google map in my hand and could follow the route. And I got off at the right stop, but it was more luck and knowledge, Marjanishvili Square. I was on my way to Fabrika, 12 minutes walk from the bus stop.

I  also made visit the beautiful Catholic Church right next to Fabrika, Saint Peter the Apostle of the Apostles.

Fabrika, once a Soviet sewing factory has been revived and transformed into a multi-functional urban space with galleries, bars, restaurants, shops, studios and the famous Hostel Fabrika, that was my destination … was going to enjoy my lunch at their restaurant.

Hostel Fabrika has double, twins, suites (family rooms) and disability rooms with ensuite bathrooms to excellent price, I would have stayed there if it had been located in the Old Tbilisi. In April a double with en-suite cost $73/£59/€68/680SEK in total for 2 persons. They are supposed to have a fantastic breakfast, but that isn’t included.

For lunch, I had sliders and the best milkshake EVER … walnuts and coconut milk. Worth the all walking and the mad bus ride.

Fabrika area is the creative centre with the unique atmosphere you don’t want to miss

I had planned to walk Agmashenebeli Avenue, is one of the longest and most beautiful streets of the city with gorgeous historic buildings, painted entryways and distinctive architectural ornaments, but my limit was reached. Saving for April 2020.

Back on Marjanishvili Square did I take the Metro to Liberty Sq (one stop)

From there I walked down Baratashvili Street, who has some stunning old houses sitting on the old wall … most of them are hostels and for sale plus they look like they are falling apart, but so beautiful.

Used the subway by Hotel Ambassadori and from there is it only 5 min to my hotel. I was back at my hotel around 4pm. Been out and about for nearly 6 hours, so a nap was needed before getting ready for my Christmas dinner, my driver picked me up 07.45pm and what Christmas Evening I got at Qalaqi.

My Christmas Eve got a spectacular grand finale!!! I went to bed totally besotted!!!!! Besotted with Giorgi, the Qalaqi’s restaurant manager!!!! (man in blue)

©Qalaqi FB

What a man!!! He became the cream on my mash. If I had been 40 years younger … he had been in Landskrona by now. He would have been all I wanted for Christmas.


“Don’t go looking for Mr. Right.
Look for Mr. Right Now.”
Janis Joplin

7 thoughts on “travel diary: tbilisi, georgian – christmas eve with flea market, some dancing and cream on the mash

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