Thursday, 7 November 2019

TBILISI HIGHLIGHTS

Hello dear friends

According to the old adage everything that has a beginning has an end and so did our 2019 holiday.
After a couple of delightful days in Istanbul, we flew to our last destination TbilisiTbilisi is a capital and largest city of Georgia, one of the fifteen former republics of the USSR but currently is an independent country. 
Due to its location on the crossroads between Europe and Asia, it has always been a strategic outpost for many powers since its 5th century foundation. And because of that Tbilisi historically has been a home to people of many different cultural and religious backgrounds that you can still find today.  The country of Georgia stretches from the Caucasus Mountains down to the warm sandy beaches Black Sea and it's due to its unique position that Georgia is protected from the cold by the mountains from one side and warmed by the sea on an the other, the country is blessed with warm dry climate and very fertile land that is ideal for growing a huge varieties of fruit and vegetables as well as being highly diverse tourist destination.   From the beaches to mountain hiking, from wine tasting to enjoying the solitude at a quiet mountain retreat, there are plenty of options to have a great time in Georgia.
TBILISI HIGHLIGHTS
TBILISI HIGHLIGHTS
We landed at the Tbilisi airport in the sunny and warm afternoon and took a cab to our hotel.  We booked King Gorgasali hotel , a boutique hotel conveniently situated in Old Tbilisi overlooking the river and an old Narikala Fortress with a huge statue of King Vakhtang Gorgasali, the founder of Tbilisi, on horseback.  Our room was decorated in an Art-Deco style with big claw bath taking centre stage in the main room and a lovely view of the fortress and a cable car.
TBILISI HIGHLIGHTS
TBILISI HIGHLIGHTS
As we were just about to unpack, there was a knock on the door and behind it stood a hotel staff member holding a tray with two wine glassed filled with dark red wine, courtesy of the house. 
He told us that the wine name is Kindzmarauli and was favoured by Joseph Stalin who apparently once served it to Roosevelt and Churchill at the Yalta conference in 1945.  He went on to tell us that Georgia claims to have invented wine and found artifacts which show an evidence of wine production for at least eight thousand years.   It tasted divine and closer to the end of our stay, we ended buying a couple of bottles of Kindzmarauli to take back to Australia.
It was quite early in the afternoon and we had plenty of time to get on the top of Hop-on, Hop-off bus to look around until dinner with some of our friends who, like us, also came to Odessa for big birthday bash and like us flew to a Tbilisi sojourn afterwards.  You can read more about our Odessa adventures here.  The bus took us around Old town and city centre and we liked what we saw.

The city centre has wide streets lined up with big leafy trees and elegantly looking buildings behind them and we were looking forward to see more of it later.  Our dinner was booked at a restaurant called Old Melnica meaning The Old Mill, hugely popular by the locals and visitors alike for its delicious food.  I have tasted Georgian food before and really liked it. 
TBILISI HIGHLIGHTS
Georgian cuisine is unique to the country but it also carries some influences from the other Caucasian countries, nearby Middle Eastern and Eastern Europe culinary tradition.  It is rich in meats and vegetables, very aromatic, flavoursome and very tasty and I couldn't wait to try its food again.   As we arrived a bit early, we had a chance to walk around and came across this big room full of smoke and wonderful aroma coming from the big charcoal grills where a few chefs were busy cooking meet for the hungry guests. 
TBILISI HIGHLIGHTS
TBILISI HIGHLIGHTS
TBILISI HIGHLIGHTS
TBILISI HIGHLIGHTS
Both, food and wine, as I expected, were utterly delicious and we all had very enjoyable evening.  As I mentioned earlier, it was the first time for my husband to come across Georgian culture but as you can see from the photo below he took it really well trying to look like a local 😍.  During the dinner I asked my friends about their time in Tbilisi and they told us about the local tour guide who was with them the day before and highly recommended that we should contact him too.  We did and luckily for us he was totally free the next day and agreed to spend it with us.
The following morning our tour guide, came to our hotel to pick us up.  Since we saw most of the city centre and old Tbilisi, we asked him to take us further afield.  The first stop that we went to was the Holy Trinity Cathedral.  Commonly known as Sameba, it is the main cathedral of Georgian Orthodox Church.  Build between late 90's and completed in 2004, Sameba is the third tallest Eastern Orthodox cathedral in the world.  It symbolises the spiritual and and national revival of Georgia and the money for its construction came predominantly from private citizens and businessmen.  The Cathedral consists of the nine chapels, all of which, quite unfortunately, were closed.
TBILISI HIGHLIGHTS
 TBILISI HIGHLIGHTS
The next point of interest that our guide wanted to show us was Chronicles of Georgia "Stonehenge-like" looking monument located on the hill about 20 minutes drive away from city centre, its tall and dark magnificent structure could be seen from afar.   The monument is also know as Historical Memorial of Georgia and was erected to celebrate 3000 years of sovereignty of Georgia and 2000 years of Christianity in Georgia.
TBILISI HIGHLIGHTS


As we wondered around sixteen massive 35 meters tall black pillars, our guide explained to us that the top half of each pillar depicts the lives of kings of Georgia while the bottom part is dedicated to depict stories from the life of Christ.  The whole monument looked very impressive but despite the proportions of the pillars, we didn't feel dwarfed but rather quite spiritual.
We descended the stairs back to our waiting car and sped off to our next stop - Jvari Monastery.  It was not the only one monastery that is worth visiting of course, but it was the closest to the city, just 20 minutes.   Jvari Monastery was a Georgian Orthodox monastery build in the sixth century near Mtskheta, one of the oldest cities in Georgia and its former capital and together with the other historic structures of Mtskheta is listed as the World Heritage site by UNESCO.  It stands on a mountaintop at the confluence of two rivers and commands a spectacular view over Georgia's country side.
The architecture of Jvari church is so different to what we expect from the church, it is very clean and simple and from afar you get the feeling that it formed from the mountains thus becoming a perfect example of harmonious blend of man made structure and Mother Nature.
It was early evening when we made our way back to Tbilisi but before we said good buy to our highly professional tour guide, we asked him to drive us to the top of the Naricala Fortress that we saw from our hotel.  As we stepped out of the car, we came across a massive statue called Katlis Deda meaning "Mother Georgia" that was built in the 1950th to celebrate 1500 anniversary of Tbilisi.
Katlis Deda
Tbilisi highlights
Tbilisi highlights
This spot commands an amazing view over Tbilisi and attracts a sizeable crowd of people climbing over here to watch the sunset.  It was almost dinner time when we jumped into cable car that took us down right across from our hotel.  It was time to say goodbye to out guide and thank him for sharing his knowledge and passion about his country and people who live here.
We didn't make any particular plans for our last day in Tbilisi and since we were facing a long and quite exhausting flight back home the next day, decided to take things slow.  We spent our morning packing and then went out to wander around souvenir shops to buy gifts for the kids, big and small, then took a cab to have lunch at place called Keto and Kote that was mentioned in a travel section in our local newspaper as a "must try".  
The place turned out to be even better in real life then on paper.   We chose our table outside and were rewarded by the lovely view spread in front of us.  Both, the food, which is modern take on traditional Georgian dishes, and wine were sublime, the wait staff were very helpful and highly professional and we couldn't ask for a better way to spend our last day on this hospitable land.  
We declined the taxi service and instead took a winding path down the hill that brought us to Shota Rustaveli Avenue, the central avenue of Tbilisi named after the medieval Georgian poet.   It is very elegant.  A lot of government, business, public and cultural buildings line up along both sides of this  main thoroughfare, their magnificent facades and elegant architectural features make you feel that you are visiting one of the old European capitals.  
 
As we walked down the avenue towards Freedom Square,  I was pleasantly surprised to see that all the major department stores and designer labels have their presence there.  I wasn't very keen to shop in Zara or H and M as we have these clothing behemoths in Australia but I couldn't miss to do some shopping at Massimo Dutti as their clothes is not available in Australia.   
We passed Federation Square and found ourselves back in Old Tbilisi, the streets become narrower, the buildings smaller, older and a bit shabby and the small hip clothing boutiques and artisan shops replaced department stores.  

We stopped at one of the wine cellars and bought a couple of bottles of Kindzmarauli wine that we had tasted on our arrival to take back to Australia and then continued walking all the way to our hotel where we had our last dinner and then went to our room to finish packing and had an early night.   
And that is all, our 2019 holiday was officially over.  Hope you enjoyed reading my narrative and if you missed a post or two, you can always find them on my page.  Please do tell me what you think about what you read and if want to know more or have some questions, please contact me either via a comment box or via my email annamarcus@optusnet.com.au.  I will more than happy to help.

Until then

Anna
xoxo





















































11 comments:

  1. Thanks for the tour Anna.I love all the fretwork on the buildings. so pretty.

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    1. Thank you Laurie, sadly it was our last stop

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  2. It looks beautiful! I hadn't heard of Tbilisi before but I'm glad you enjoyed your time there :)

    Hope that you are having a great weekend! We went for our annual family Christmas photo with Santa yesterday, with two kids and a dog it didn't quite go as planned, ha!

    Away From Blue

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  3. It never does, you just hope for the best :). Hope this week will be more streamlined thought :) It's a small country, formerly a republic of defunct USSR and not spoiled by the tourists yet. Perfect time to go now

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  4. Thanks for sharing your trip - as a South African now living on the Black Sea (Nessebar, Bulgaria) it was interesting. Lise

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  5. Wow, even the architecture tells of so much history and culture!

    www.jeannieinabottleblog.com

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  7. Thanks for the tour Anna , Best Time to Travel to Oman for this Tour Oman is a year round destination with pleasant warm climate, however we would recommend avoiding June through to August as temperatures peak at this time of the year.

    travels in oman

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  8. Thanks for sending me the link to your post! I enjoyed seeing all the pictures and recognized most of the places and buildings. We have stayed two weeks there once and then 3 weeks and have traveled a lot of the country. Next trip we hope to visit Batumi and there are a couple places in Tbilisi we want to see such as the Chronicles of Georgia and a large market under the bridge somewhere.
    Great pictures!
    www.chezmireillefashiontravelmom.com

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  9. Hello,
    very happy to say, your post is very interesting to read. I never stop myself to say something about it. You’re doing a great job. Keep it up.

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