Tipsy Tbibisi

Free wine on the Hop on/off bus!! That’s a first!

Everywhere I look in Tbilisi I see wine.

Georgia is the oldest wine making region in the world, going back 8000 years.

Traditionally they made it in unique clay ‘qvevri’, an egg-shaped vessel which has been recognized by UNESCO.

And it’s not just for the tourists. Small shops often carried more bulk versions.

My hotel greeted me with a glass of their own.

The number of churches are second to wine shops.

Christianity was adopted here in the 4th century, the second country after Armenia.

So wine 8000 years, Christianity 2000 years.

Tbilisi is in a valley with the Mtkvari River flowing through.

Rike Park is a beautiful green space by the river, and from there you can see most of the major sites.

Bridge of Peace crosses from Rike Park to the Old Town.

In Rike Park there is the aerial tram station which takes you up to Sololaki Hill.

The mirror side shows a very long lineup. Fortunately I went up at 10:00 when it opened, and just walked on.

On Solokai Hill there is the remains of the Narikala Fortress.

It was established by the Persians in the 4th century, expanded by the Arabs in the 7th-8th centuries, expanded again by King David in the 11th century and with more extensions in the 16th-17th century.

Then an earthquake in 1827 destroyed most of oldest and it was renovated again in 1996. Whew!

Also up on the hill is ‘Mother Georgia’ (Kartlis Deda), a 29 m aluminum monument erected in 1958 on the 1500th anniversary of Tbilisi.

She symbolizes the Georgian national character. In her left hand she holds a bowl of wine to greet those who come as friends. In her right hand is a sword for those who come as enemies.

On the back side of the hill is a huge Botanical Garden.

Looking back at Rike Park you can see a big ‘golf ball’ which is apparently an expensive hot air balloon ride experience. I never saw it operating.

In the distance you can also see a gold topped church. It’s visible from many areas and a good reference point along with the Fortress!

Tsminda Sameba Cathedral was consecrated in 2004 after a decade of construction.

My favourite church was Metekhi St Virgin Church.

It looks over the river and the Metekhi Bridge.

Statue of King Valhtang Gorgasali with the Biltmore Hotel in the distance.

Abanotubani are the subterranean bathhouses famous for their sulphur water. There are several you can book.

Chreli Abano is an above ground bathhouse.

The river and canyon continues around back, and leads to waterfalls. Unfortunately the path was closed.

Queen Darajan Palace

State Palace of Ceremonies (2009) up on the hill with the Concert and Exhibition Halls in front.

I read their funding dried up but they look very interesting.

I’m finding prices higher after Azerbaijan. Like Croatia after Bosnia-Herzegovina.

But the tourist numbers are higher too. There are groups at all the major sites as Georgia is becoming a hot new destination.

And a well developed system of day tours to many of the towns I will be staying in!

Public Service Building (City Hall)

Freedom Square

A hotel under construction.

Lots of Ukraine flags.

Interesting mix of architecture.

And construction everywhere!

Anchiskhati Basilica was built in the 6th century and is Tbilisi’s oldest surviving church.

Meidan Bazar is an underground tunnel beneath the oldest historical market area.

Clock Tower (2010)

Statue of Ronald Reagan installed as a symbol of democracy that Georgia embraced after the breakup of the USSR. Reagan’s foreign policies were seen as part of that breakup.

The inscription reads “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction”

Bitcoin Booths

One synagogue

My search for the perfect ‘klinkali‘ brought me to this very sketchy door.

But downstairs was very nice.

Klinkali are one of the famous Georgian foods. Basically a giant dumpling with meat or mushroom filling.

And require a certain way of eating.

You pick it by the stem, take a small bite and slurp the juice out. Tricky!

Kharcho is a Georgian soup made from beef, cherry plum purée, ground or chopped walnuts and khmeli-suneli.

Khmeli-suneli is the national spice mix that is used to flavour many Georgian dishes and sauces.

Coriander seed, basil, marjoram, dill, red pepper powder, saffron, fenugreek, bay leaf, mint, celery and parsley.

Not the prettiest dish but okay. Just salty again.

Chanakhi. Traditional dish of lamb stew with tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes and garlic. And salty.

So back to my old standby – grilled kebabs (wrapped in thin lavash bread and sprinkled with sumac), Georgian ‘ketchup’ and salad. I loved all the mint but starting to dislike cilantro.

I also had a donar one day. They had two huge spits of chicken over charcoal, and wrapped it up in lavash with vegetables and sauce before grilling it. It was worth the 30 minute wait as food delivery bike drivers took huge orders.

Can you see the huge tandoor oven?

It makes the bread curve up on the ends. Reminds me of a Persian slipper!

The weather has been unsettled and we’ve had some cracking good thunderstorms even though the temperatures have not been over 18.

So tomorrow I’m off to Armenia for three weeks. Then I’ll loop back through western and northern Georgia. I’m back in the Caucasus mountains when it’s warmer in June.

See you there!

5 thoughts on “Tipsy Tbibisi

    1. Thanks Renee! It is very photogenic! I’ve been here six days and took multiple shots in cloudy and sunny days! Afraid I wasn’t good at editing the number I posted!


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