Did you ever think about where the border between Asia and Europe could be? Where is that “2 in 1” place where you can experience both of them like two perfect matching condiments?
I would say is the Caucasus region, between the Black and the Caspian sea, on the imaginary border between the two continents. Georgia is one of those three independent countries forming the Caucasus along Armenia and Azerbaijan; countries which had tumultuous history and suffered much as a result of their geographic position: between modern Russia and Turkey.
Georgia has a prospering tourism industry and the locals are friendly and welcoming. Check out this nice promo video for the 6th million tourist:
Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, became one of our positive surprises during our Caucasian journey. Where civilizations and cultures meet, the architectural variety is stunning and it’s present at every street corner.
In case you plan a visit we recommend Tbilisi Free Walking Tours. Beside the “default” touristic walking tour they run also photo, or less touristic tours.
The cute, romantic wood balconies became my main photo subjects for the whole visit. I think they represent a major part in the vibe of the city, it’s something I saw nowhere before.
The old town is characterized by narrow streets, slightly or not renovated smaller buildings. Beside the hostels and restaurants this part of the city is still lived by the locals. In Europe usually old towns are renovated and become overwhelmingly touristic, but in Tbilisi you go back in time and feel the local’s vibe.
People can be seen often on their balconies, chilling or just looking around.
On the left is Mother of Georgia, who holds a cup of wine in her left hand to greet those who come as friends and in her right hand is a sword for those who come as enemies.
On the right is the Freedom Square‘s statue which represents the foundation of the First Georgian Republic in 1918.
The Rustaveli avenue and it’s secondary streets are the heart of the European looking Tbilisi. If you would be dropped directly on Rustaveli you could easily think you are in Wien or Budapest.
On the left: the top of Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi.
Tbilisi means “warm location” in Georgian language and the origin of it’s name comes from the numerous sulphuric bath springs around. Most of the baths are in Abanotubani, an ancient district neighboring the city center.
There used to be gender separated public baths for a very small entrance fee, but now you can choose just from the private room offers. Along the sulphuric bath, the offers can include special Georgian massage or some sort of really funny scrub massage where a man/woman reinvigorates your skin and drops buckets of water on you out of nowhere.
Next to Abanotubani, on the hillside, you can find other popular touristic sights: the Mother of Georgia statue, the Narikala Fortress and the botanical garden. Below you can see a part of the fortress at the edge of the botanical garden.
Taken from Narikala fortress: the Bridge of Piece and the Music Hall.
Built during a renovation of the Gabriadze puppet theater, a few years ago, the clock tower is a must see in Tbilisi. Hourly, “The Circle of Life” show is played by puppets which will pop out from the clock.
It has the smallest clock-tower-clock in the world:
Fabrika is a hostel, an urban hot spot, a community hub in Tbilisi. You can find there artist studios, co-working places and cafe/bars in an open space courtyard. It’s easy to spot the building because of the numerous graffiti works.
The atmosphere gets vibrant in the evenings when the whole courtyard gets crowded with young Georgians and tourists likewise.
Tbilisi is active and very musical in the evening, a lot of locals and tourists are walking around in the touristic zones. The view of Mtkvari river, the illuminated Narikala fortress and the Bridge of Peace is stunning.
Georgia is a country with one of the oldest wine-making traditions and the marketing they have created around it is almost on every corner of touristic Tbilisi. Most of the wine comes from Kakheti region, we are going to share some pictures and experience from there in one of our following blog posts.
Food to try out in Tbilisi 🙂
The Georgian cuisine is authentic and special – also inspired from ideas carried along the trade routes by merchants.
Khachapuri, based on bread filled with all kind of cheese, is one of the symbol-dishes of Georgia. Khachapuri Acharuli, with the bread formed like a boat and with an egg and butter in the center is the most known type of Khachapuri, you can even find 3D fridge magnets with it.
Khinkali – twisted knobs of dough, usually stuffed with meat and spices – is another symbol-dish of the Georgian cuisine. There is a special way to eat it and, of course, we found it out at the end of Georgian trip. It’s pretty easy to spot the tourists by the way they eat the Khinkali. First you have to grab the dumpling from it’s handle, take a small bite from the side and after then slurp the liquid. Afterwards it’s easy 🙂
Churchkhela – the street food dessert – is dried grape (or other fruits) must with almonds or walnuts inside. We had different experiences with Churchkhela: if the must is good (for me soft and natural color) is going to enter your top desserts list, but if the must is hard and gummy you will probably never buy again.
Iulia and Bancsi
Of course, with a backpack.