Freedom Square in central Tbilisi
A five-hour 1st class train ride from Batumi, and I'm back in the Georgian capital city of Tbilisi. Late at night, I check into the Solo Lucky guest house, which seemed somewhat applicable, since I was a solo traveller, and lucky to have come across such a welcoming place to stay. Tbilisi is highly likely to be the size of at least the next 7 or 8 largest Georgian cities put together, but fortunately it is equipped with a 2-line metro network, and getting from A to B does not really seem much of a chore, especially in a relatively walkable city centre. Rustaveli Avenue appears to be the city's main commercial thoroughfare, so a fair cluster of the city's prominent buildings are located along this avenue, which include the iconic Georgian churches, identifiable by their conical roofs.
Natural scenes in the spa town of Borjomi
A more modern-looking landmark of Tbilisi is the Peace Bridge, a wavy, glass roofed covered bridge which leads roughly to the area where the city's Presidential Palace is located. Landmarks such as the TV tower and the statue of Mother Georgia both look down upon the city from a higher vantage point, and the completion of the construction of a cable car leading up to the Nakali fortress will ensure that the city is even better equipped with convenient means of getting around. For the most part, Tbilisi is a city steeped in history, of which all the vital elements have been well-preserved, and since the ending of the Rose Revolution, the city's overall safety levels have increased to make it foolish to be put off by media portrayal of instability in the region, which appears to have not affected Tbilisi (or Batumi) one jot.
Prominent Georgian church in Tbilisi
My day trip from Tbilisi was a Marshrutka (minibus) ride out to the spa town of Borjomi
, which upon arrival, gave a wholly different impression of a town right on the edge of an expansive national park, and a fair few features to make a day trip both varied and absorbing. The town's ethnographical museum provided the final word in the history of the region, so is a must for visitors, and it appears to be the done thing to fill empty bottles up with free-flowing spring water, which has curative properties, despite its questionable taste! Back in Tbilisi, and witnessing a display of Georgian dance at a local restaurant was a sound indication of how the country has conserved a sufficient number of cultural elements, and is justifably proud to flaunt them as part of the country's overall identity.
The Presidential Palace of Tbilisi
Furthermore, a public display of man-sized flag juggling must surely rank among the top spectacles ever witnessed for its sheer wow factor, and if anything made me realize I was very much in the right place at the right time to catch such a phenomenal sight. So this was Georgia, and I am glad to have woven it into the fabric of my travel tapestry, since the pluses outweighed the minuses, and I was showered with sights, sounds and options (dining, shopping, leisure) which, when wrapped up in the veil of Georgian hospitality, made me wonder why media coverage of any like-minded country foolishly chooses to cast bad light upon a far more gleaming pocket of existance.