Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Tbilisi, the "Hot water" city

Sudden decisions seem to be the best decisions. A friend of mine paid a visit to Georgie when she came last time to Baku. I refused going with her for two reasons - 1, my visa to Azerbaijan were only single entry ($40) and I would have to pay another $80 to get multiple; 2, I needed Georgian visa. Hence, I was not considering going to Tbilisi. BUT :o) my new visa obtained thanks to the Save the Children are multiple & for free and second, I found out that Goergia does not require visa from Czechs (EU) during the summer months!! And so 2 weeks ago I started to plan visitting Tbilisi and this weekend I already managed to see the city with my own eyes!!

I went with a friend by train. We left on Friday night so to arrive on Saturday morning. The ride was great except for damn 3 hours at the borders, first Azeri and then Georgian. There are a lot of Azeri going to Tbilisi while trying to smuggle things accross the border and the process looks likewise when going back from Tbilisi to Baku, this time having Georgian people on board instead. And if one thinks about it, all this happens for years already - every single time when the train passes the borders (at least once every day) there are pretty much the same people on the train and I bet there are also the same customs officers at the borders ... as if they could not have come to some sort of agreement to speed up the process.

Nevermind, so instead at 10 we made it to Tbilisi at 1, thankfully Tbilisi is one hour behind, so we came at 12 Georgian time. Got dropped by a Georgian friend at a hotel, hotel which we did not have to pay for as the owners were his relatives. Very unexpected, very convenient
but very akward as well.

Our first trip was to Jvari Monastery, some 30min away from Tbilisi. It is situated on a cliff while overlooking the Mtskheta village and offering great views of the surrounding mountains. Jvari, built in the 7th century, is one of the oldest churches in Gergia and it is functioning till now.

From Jvari we descended to Mtskheta. It is not more than a sleepy village by now lying on the confluence of two rivers, Mktvari (Kura in Azeri) and Aragvi. Mtskheta used to be the capital city of Georgia for some 500 years in pre-Christian times. In the center of the village you will find the Svetitskhoveli Church, thought by some as the most beautiful church of Georgia, built in 11th century.

After an extraordinary dinner in an outside restaurant placed along a little stream, while tasting different kinds of Georian specialities, we returned to Tbilisi. We took a stroll around the Old Town/Kala with number of churches around, remnants of city walls, colourful houses and plenty of cafes. The Old Town is being slowly rebuilt and very neat little streets are emmerging here and there. We stopped for a beer at a beer restaurant, opened only some month ago, with real brewery inside of the place, thus having the possibility to taste "fresh" beer :o). I am afraid that the beer here is as disgusting as everywhere else (my appologies to beer lovers), though of course Czech beer is still the least evil one :o)). After the restaurant we called it the night, although I could not resist taking few more photos of the night Tbilisi.

I will rather not mention the night as I shall feel sorry for myself :o) so while skipping that I will take us to some 11am on Sunday. Dima (our Georgian friend) picked us up at that time and we continued to wander around the old streets with the aim to make it to Rustaveli Avenue. I had the feeling that all the buildings you might want to see in a city, you will definitely find on this Avenue. First to see is the so called Children's Palace (former Russian viceroy's residence), next to the building of the Parliament. A modern building of the Plaza Cinema, hotel Tbilisi (Marriott), close with the Kashveti church emmerge further along the Avenue. The cars are not allowed to this street during Sundays so one gets to have nice views from the middle of the street (though the reflex of looking for a car coming is still there :o))). There is also the Opera house, Mitropane Laridze Soda Foutain, Academy of Science and other sights to be seen.

We ended up in a little Chinese restaurant for a lunch and returned through other streets to our hotel to fetch the car. As we still had some time left, Dima took us to a newly built church high up on a hill above the center of Tbilisi. Really an impressive building packed with people as it was a holiday that day.

There is another extraordinary sight to be seen on the hill facing Tbilisi, the Kartlis Deda Statue. This metal mother statue is holding a tea-cup to welcome friends and a sword to scare off the enemies. Some distance away from the statue there are the impressive ruins of Narikala Castle very well visible from the center of the city. I guess it is good to mention that Tbilisi is placed in a valley surrounded by hills :o).

The day ended by a visit to a Turtle lake within the woods that border with Tbilisi. The lake is a place where people like to go for a run, or to simply relax or have a swim, again with excellent views of the city.

At 6 we had a train back, and even with "the usual" three hour delay at the borders, we made it slightly after 9 to Baku. So I was sitting at my office with only some 40min delay ;o).

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Blogger imelda said...

It looks very nice. So how are Georgians compared with Azeri?What are the significant differerences?

9:13 AM, August 31, 2005  
Blogger Mart'a said...

The most significant difference is that Azeri are Muslims and Georgians are Orthodox Christians. Also Azeri look more Turkish way and Georgians are less dark, although both having dark eyes. But otherwise the hot caucasian blood is probably present in both nations ;o)).

1:39 PM, August 31, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why dont you want to mention what happened that night in Tbilissi? what so shamefull you might have done of yourself? Hihihihi :)

9:37 PM, September 05, 2005  
Blogger Mart'a said...

not "of" yourself, but what horrible I did "to" myself (without wanting of course).. and if you want to know, then ... hmm, I will write an email to you instead, rather! :o)

1:37 PM, September 07, 2005  
Blogger Rapho said...


i found shortly your blog. It sounds interresting. I will reas soon. Her is may blog about georgia/south-caucasus: http://georgien.blogspot.com

Ciao, Rappo

9:32 PM, September 15, 2005  
Blogger Mart'a said...

thank you ;o)... I will have a look!

7:40 AM, September 20, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

would be nice to see pictures , we were recomended to go but would love to see fresh pics, also we were told that Tbilisi is lovely at night time and sharden street is a great place to eat and drink

3:40 AM, October 04, 2005  
Blogger Mart'a said...

I do have quite few photos, but not yet anywhere online. I could always send you some if you are interested or in some 2-3 weeks I will put some of the photos on my msn photo space... so as soon as that is done, I will put some announcement on the blog and you can check it. :o) Unless you are back from Georgia by then :o).

4:10 PM, October 05, 2005  
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2:24 AM, November 14, 2009  

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