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Tbilisi Travel Blog

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Typical Tiblisi house

To describe how i feel being back in Tiblisi is not so easy...so many things make it fantastic! Again we are treading in my parents foot steps, but even before my mother meet my father she came here. Only in her early 20s, in the late sixties, she drove here with a group of fellow russian students from Denmark. Their route took them through, all of what back then was hidden behind the iron curtain, through the high caucasus mountains to Tiblisi. The photo I have seen shows her as a young girl sitting by a beautiful lake, drinking and smoking with two other girls. On their way home their little fleet of vans got caught up in Russias invasion of the check republik and they drove towards Europe in amongst  a line of armed tanks.
Later she returned with my dad, to this beautiful city.

The church...


And Tiblisi is stunning; Much of the architecture is art nouveau from the early 1900's, built with a thougt to the long hot summers. The result is a decorative city, a city of verandas and terraces, full of swirling iron and wood patterns playing over doorways, in window grits and in railings. Old stone statues lean out of the brickwork, supporting heavy pillars and ancient balconies on their shoulders, whilst an army of newer, equally beautiful bronze statues have taken on the streets of the centre. On rustavelli and freedom square - the cities artry of the fine, of money and style, of the mariott hotel and the theater and finally the golden statue of st george -Tiblisi stands like Paris:  Not broken but old and beautiful, romantic and stylish, big and stalinist.
Fountains at night.

Behind Rustavelli, only a street or two, or even in a rustavelli backyard the brick work is crumbeling. Houses have cracks from earth quakes and old age. Some are uninhabitable but most have to make do because poverty, bad leadership and the war have left the citizens with only empty promises of money for restauration from the government.
Grape vines have crawled everywhere, making good use og all the swirling iron and balconies. There are old trees circeling ancient fountains and lining most streets -shady forrests in squares and a 1000 little drinking fountains. It feels like a favella, it feels like cuba and,again,  it feels like Paris!

In amongst all of this stands the truely ancient architecture. Churches dating as far back as the 4th century are doted about whilst the majority is from the 10th century.

Rustavelli street
To enter we have to dress appropriately and again it is like another world. However not geographically because these churches are unique to the caucasious region, but in time: Usually there is a large high dome in the middle, surrounded by smaler domes. On the ceilings are ancient dark paintings of saints and beams of light shine in from small openings. On the walls and on the pillars hang heavy golden icons infront of wich lines and lines of candles stand, burning for the dead. Oil lamps and incense simer away as young and old bearded priests in black robes sing their melodic prayers. Young women as well as old polish the icons and sweep the floors whilst people que to say prayers  to the saints and to kiss their pictures.

In Tiblisi we stayed at nasi's.

At Nasi's Homestay. Marjanshivilli 30.
Nasi is an old lady, 78 now.... Five years ago when Tiblisi did not yet have any real buget options nasi was the only option for us and she gave us a good home. In Europe we followed Russias invasion of Georgia closely, worrying about Nasi and now we were pleased to see that both she and her house had stood well through, both the war and the earhtquake. She showed us the cracks, complained about the government, but no doubt its just as fine a place as always. It's tidy, you must wear slippers and tell Nasi if you will stay out late. She will worry otherwise. However now she has competition. Dodo, Irina and other people have opened homestays in the area. They are younger or have family to wait at the metro station at catch the tourists. Nasi has not got this option and suffers from the unfair competition. Some travellers say she's strickt, but again that is not true. She's 78 and runs her house so she herself can exist in in nicely amongst the many travelers that come and go. She likes the company and will make whats hers your's for the stay.

After 5 days we found ourselves still at nasis, but reluctantly preparing to leave. We'd been at the museums; In the fine arts museum, in which appart from the lack of fine art an escapee egyptian mummy surprised us in the prehistoric section and at the national museum which was closed due to some unpaid bills apparantly.

Tibisis art is in it's architecture and it's battle against time, against decay and crawling greenery. It's life is in the markets, the people that have to keep going forwards inspite of their country, politically is moving backwards. They sell everything; vegetalbles, art, communist memorablia, books, pipas and old kettles and defunct electrics. As the government has failed, a new social system and an improvised economy has formed on the streets, in the stalls and in the back yards. The georgians give to their old babushkas, they care for their neighbor. Religion is strong; maybee even from the heart.....

But eventually we had to leave. We'd already agreed that Tiblisi would be our annual holliday destination in case we ever become people who have such a thing.

Last time we were here we crossed a 2025 meter dodgy pass on an offroad track that the usual old wiseass man insisted I couldn't do after we'd allready done it. So we knew anything that isn't the main road is potentialy very bad here. And it's wild; Gergia is the only place we have ever camped out with wolfes howling all around us in the mountains. Nevertheless this time round we decided first to do a small road south of the main road towards Kutaisi to avaoid the traffic and then after Kutaisi we would head up into Svanetti. A 300 km detour out of wich at least 200 km would be dirt tracks up into the high caucasus. The pass is at 2600 meters and it is only open 5 month f the year.

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Typical Tiblisi house
Typical Tiblisi house
The church...
The church...
Fountains at night.
Fountains at night.
Rustavelli street
Rustavelli street
At Nasis Homestay.
Marjanshivill…
At Nasi's Homestay. Marjanshivil…
Tbilisi
photo by: herman_munster