Tbilisi is a fascinating and distant city for most, but its uniqueness we found to be comprised of the fact that it is a city full of welcoming people, wonderful food and rich displays of heritage art and architecture. We just explored the old town and surrounding hills this time, but a future trip will certainly involve getting out into the wild nature in the Caucasus mountains.
We found every corner of the city to offer a view of another historic church, magnificent bridge, ancient wall, towering fortress or grandiose avenue. Here the ancient feels just as welcome as the modern as the city is cheerfully built in such a way as to accommodate modern needs and preserve an invaluable heritage.
The Roses Park is a mix of stunning floral arrangements interspersed with traditional wooden benches and cement sitting areas. The space is bordered on one side by a beautifully arched hillside with a water-light show fountain and by a twisted glass and light show pedestrian bridge spanning the Kura River. The unique bridge is known as the “Bridge of Peace.” As one follows this waterway a bit further to the Metekhi area the cityscape forms a unique view.
Further back one we saw the stunning parliament building waving its national flag proudly. Behind it one sees the looming Sameba Cathedral which is truly an impressive sight any time of day. This church is the third biggest Orthodox Church in the world.
Browse among shops of gilded religious icons and wander among various wine stores that offer distinct varieties and generous tastings. Georgian cuisine is quite generous and hardy. Start with a local Khinkali to really dive headfirst into the local cuisine. These tasty dumpling like treats are stuffed with all sorts of meats, cheeses and vegetables. They won’t leave you hungry and you’re bound to be looking for more by the end of your trip. For a savory main dish there are tons of fresh, homestyle options. Georgian wine is superior in quality and as old as the culture here itself. One should really take advantage of all the varietals on the menu as the ratio of quality to cost greatly favors major quality for less cost. The wines range from colors to tastes to styles and often are known by the towns from which they originate.
Modern Day experiences
The Freedom Square rotunda, with surrounding buildings and the iconic statue of the legendary St. George the country’s patron makes the new parts of town. The city is easily walkable and it is recommended one do so to take in the many great sights. There are many taxis, buses and a speedy metro for larger jumps across the hillscapes. For a great view of the city panorama head up the city funicular to the overarching broadcast tower. If you are interested in some history, exercise and panorama head also to the St. Nicolas Fortress which lingers above the picturesque old town.
One major facet of local culture and lure which should not be missed is the bath culture built around the hot sulfur springs on the east end of the city. There are three major facilities. The first two as one approaches offer a series of private baths which one may choose for a more privatized experience. A third structure is decorated in a Persian style which offers private as well as public rooms. All the facilities offer scrubs and massages as well. The prices for entrance and these scrubs are quite appealing and are a fraction of what they would be elsewhere.