Couchsurfing meet up

Tbilisi Travel Blog

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People I met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia), Georgian couchsurfers!

Back in Tbilisi we quickly went home to get ready for a night out with a bunch of fellow couchsurfers. Whilst the meeting had been set up to try to organise the Tbilisi couchsurfing scene, it was really just an excuse for a bunch of like minded people to get together and get drunk. I think around 20 people turned up in the end, making it impossible to talk with everyone, but we did meet some nice Georgian people who we chatted to for most of the night.

As we didn't get to bed until gone 02.00, we only woke up at midday on Wednesday, thus scuppering any plans of a day trip out of the City.

This wasn't too much of a problem though, as the City has more than enough to see in its own right. Having eaten some lunch at home, we began by taking a walk down Rustaveli street, which is arguably the most trendy street in the whole of Georgia. Interesting sights included a monument to Shota Rustaveli who is the countries most famous poet, the Academy of Sciences, the Opera House, Rustaveli Theatre, Kashveti Church, School Number 1, Parliament and the Museum of Georgia, along with several other pretty buildings, many with attractive balconies that overlooked the street.

Rustaveli Street ended at Tavisuplebis moedani (Freedom Square) and in the centre of this was a towering golden monument of St George slaying the dragon. A few hundred metres from here was a section of the North wall of the Old Town along with some interesting houses that had vines hanging from the balconies.
Walking East we could see the Tsminda Sameba (Holy Trinity) Cathedral dominating the skyline, but reaching the Mtkvari river we turned South, so as to visit a number of Churches on this side of the embankment.

Anchiskhati Basilica, Karis Eklesia Church and Erekle II Moedani were all within 200m of each other, whilst another 100m on Sioni Cathedral, Norasheni Church and Jvaris Mama Church were all situated on the same block. It was interesting to see all of this, but i must confess that Churches were becoming a little bit repetitive, as Georgia and Tbilisi in particular must have one of the highest concentrations of these religious edifices in the World.

We didn't really have time to climb up to the fortress that was situated above us, so having taken a quick look at the ornate Orbeliani Baths and other surrounding hammams, we had a walk down by the river and then crossed over the Metekhi bridge to see the Metekhi Church.
Located about 10 minutes up the hill from here was the stunning new Tsminda Sameba Church and this certainly caught and held my attention.

The Church took over a decade to build and was finally completed in 2004, with the structure comprising of concrete, brick, marble, granite and gold. Entering through the main gates we were surprised to see a red carpet laid out on the floor, who told them i was coming!? Not thinking too much about it we went to take a look around the complex, which included a bell tower, a pond with swans and a second Church just off to the side of the main one.

Inside the Church there was a massive copy of the New Testament, whilst the ceilings seemed to be approaching heaven, although I'm assured the top was a mere 84m. There seemed an awful lot of people in the Church and we stuck around for some time, waiting for it to get dark so as we could see what the place looked like when it was illuminated.
Even though there were people walking around in bizarre clothing, we still didn't put 2 + 2 together and realise that we were gate crashing an important occasion.

A little after 18.30 the bells began clanging, a line of men wearing ornamental garb with flags lined up at the red carpet and a car pulled up carrying the Patriarch of the Georgian Church. Georgia's top bishops raced to the door of the car to greet the old man, who supposedly had just recovered from a heart attack. We took a couple of photos whilst he walked up the red carpet towards the Church, but i didn't feel quite comfortable with a security guard shadowing me for much of the way.

In the evening Julia cooked up a delicious spaghetti in tomato sauce and Nana made an excellent soup with potatoes and beef.
It was nice to be eating so well again after the lack of any decent cuisine in Azerbaijan, and actually feeling full at the end of a meal was a rare treat. For the rest of the night i messed around online and fruitlessly tried to burn some DVD's, but for some reason Daniel's computer wouldn't read the discs.

On Thursday we awoke at 09.30 and after eating breakfast we caught a bus to Metekhi Bridge. Here was located a Heydar Aliyev park, and i couldn't believe that the guy even had a bust of himself in bloody Georgia, were we never going to escape him!? From here we took a look at some surrounding sites, which included a Jewish Synagogue, Armenian Cathedral of St George and a Mosque.

The real reason to be in this part of town was to climb up to Narikala Fortress, which offered splendid views across the Old Town and also down the snaking Mtkvari River.
The fortress had quite a lot of intact walls and also the Church of St Nicholas, where we watched two children get baptised. Having clambered around the ruins that dated from the 4th Century we walked along the ridge of the hill to the Kartlis Deda (Mother Georgia) statue. The aluminium giant holds a sword and a glass of wine and accompanied by her huge bosom she is no doubt most Georgian mens ideal woman.

Carrying on around the hill we came to Shahtakhti (Shah's Throne) fortress and a swanky new business centre and then headed into some quaint streets that lay below. Our walk finished at Mamadaviti Church, where there was also the national Pantheon, containing many famous Georgians graves, with the exception of Stalin, rather unsurprisingly!

Nana came and met us here as her other flat was nearby and once we had paid it a quick visit, we caught a marshrutka to the train station, where there were a number of second hand shops that we looked around for an hour.
Julia managed to buy a hat, gloves and jacket, and i got treated to nothing as usual, poor me! For Dinner we had a feast of sausage and chips and then chilled out in the house for the remainder of the evening.

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Tbilisi
photo by: herman_munster