Tbilisi Journals

Georgia: Jewel of the Caucasus

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A February 2005 trip to Tbilisi by HobWahid

Mosque Photo, Tbilisi, Georgia More Photos
Quote: Georgia, land of the Golden Fleece, is home to towering mountains, beautiful coast, monasteries, vineyards, and some of the most hospitable people on Earth. Long troubled since the fall of the USSR, Georgia is picking up the pieces and opening itself as a premiere destination for the adventurous traveler.

Georgia: Jewel of the Caucasus

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Overview

Mtskheta Photo, Tbilisi, Georgia
Quote:
Tbilisi: Georgia's capital and cultural heart. A timeless city that bears remnants of the numerous cultures that have passed through it's gates.Batumi: Beaches and sun on the Black Sea coast.Davit Gareja: Mythical monastery high up in the mountains on the Azeri border.Gori: Stalin's birthplace and home to the surreal Stalin Museum.Quick Tips: While Tbilisi and the coast remain temperate all year round, the mountains are only really passable during late spring and summer. So if you want to see some of the fantastic sights deep in the heart of the Caucasus, you might not want to go in February, like I did, lest you find yourself bl...Read More

Nasi's Guesthouse

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Hotel

Nasi's Guesthouse Photo, Tbilisi, Georgia
Quote:
If you are traveling through Georgia on the cheap, there is almost a 95% chance that you will end up staying at the house of the (in)famous Nasi. Nasi is an old, rotund Georgian lady who, in the Soviet days, used to be a German language teacher but now has decided to rent her place out to weary travelers. All throughout Georgia and Armenia, you will find that the "homestay" is the best option for the budget traveler, and often, in the smaller towns, it is the only option, as the tourist infrastructure in the Caucasus still has a long way to go. And as homestays go, Nasi is Queen.Her home, located about 100 yards away from the Marjanishvili Metro stop in Tbilisi, may be a bit hard to...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 27, 2005

Nasi's Guesthouse
Marjanishvilis Kucha 30/92
Tbilisi, Georgia
95 08 94 / 94 06 11

Monastery of Davit Gareja

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Attraction

Monastery of Davit Gareja Photo, Tbilisi, Georgia
Quote:
Of all the monasteries in Georgia, Davit Gareja may be my favorite. It is located way in the south of the country, along the border with Azerbaijan. The monastery itself affords fantastic views, and its completely out-of-the-way location makes it a bit difficult to visit, meaning that if you make it, you very likely will be alone.A visit to the site can be made as a long day trip from Tbilisi, but it is plenty worth it. To get there my friend and I hopped a marshrutka (minibus) from Tbilisi’s main station to Gardabani, a small outpost of a town on the Azeri border. The trip was long, about two hours along mostly dirt roads past old broken down Soviet factories, but at just ov...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 27, 2005

Monastery of Davit Gareja
Gardabani
Tbilisi, Georgia

Batumi Sights & Attractions

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Attraction | "Batumi on the Black Sea Coast"

Batumi Sights & Attractions Photo, Tbilisi, Georgia
Quote:
When most people think of the Black Sea, they think of a dark and icy sea surrounded by snow-capped mountains, a merciless sea that pounds away at the gigantic oil tankers bringing oil to the Mediterranean. What they do not expect is the lush, semi-tropical environment of Batumi and the coast of Adjara.The modern state of Georgia is a federation of smaller states, loosely held together by a central government in Tbilisi. Since independence, however, some of these states have tried to break away. The most famous, Abkhazia, tried to do it violently, resulting in a full-scale war. Adjara, on the other hand, tried to do it peacefully, and the result was the establishment of the Autonomous Admi...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 27, 2005

Batumi Sights & Attractions
Black Sea Coast
Tbilisi, Georgia

Stalin Museum

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Attraction | "Gori and the Stalin Museum"

Stalin Museum Photo, Tbilisi, Georgia
Quote:
A trip to Gori, the birthplace of Stalin, is like a trip back in time to the old days of the USSR, when the cold bronze stare of of Gori’s favorite son kept a watchful eye over public squares all over the Soviet Union. Gori is perhaps the only place in the former USSR where statues of Josef Dzhugashvili, later Josef Vissarionovich Stalin, (he tried to hid his non-Slavic Georgian descent) still stand. And although Stalin was not particularly nice to his homeland, or at least no nicer than he was to the rest of the USSR, the residents of Gori still love him, he is their native son and the only one they’ve got.The highlight of Gori, about an hour and a half to the north of Tbilisi, is without...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 27, 2005

Stalin Museum
Central Gori
Tbilisi, Georgia

Cave City of Uplistsikhe

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Attraction

Cave City of Uplistsikhe Photo, Tbilisi, Georgia
Quote:
If you are up in Gori visiting the Stalin Museum, a good way to detox from the binge of Soviet-style propaganda is by heading out to the cave city of Uplistsikhe--that is, if you can pronounce it. The site is about 10 miles outside of town, along an extremely bumpy dirt track, and the best way to reach it is to hire a cab in Gori. For about $10, you can get a cab to take you out there, wait, and then take you back. If you have seen the cave cities of Cappadoccia in Turkey, Uplitsikhe may not seem to impressive at first, being that it is nowhere near as large or well-preserved, but it is still worth a visit, if not for the spectacular views it affords of the Caucasus Mountains. While initia...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 27, 2005

Cave City of Uplistsikhe
10Km from Gori
Tbilisi, Georgia

Mtskheta and Georgian Spirituality

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Story/Tip

Wedding Photo, Tbilisi, Georgia
Quote:
One thing you will notice about Georgia as soon as you arrive is that it is a deeply religious country. It is the second-oldest Christian nation in the world, having been converted by St. Nino in 337, and they take their Christianity seriously, creating their own unique brand of Christianity with a distinctly Eastern feel. You will notice in the street or on buses, people crossing themselves three times every time they pass a church, and upon entering any church in Georgia, it is hard not to be moved by the pure spirituality that prevails. Women cover their heads in scarves, light candles, and kiss pictures of Jesus, Mary, and various saints, all while the sweet smell of incense hangs in the air. Geor...Read More

Timeless Tbilisi

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Story/Tip

Mosque Photo, Tbilisi, Georgia
Quote:
Tbilisi is easily my most favorite city in Caucasus. It is an ancient city, nestled in a valley along the banks of the majestic, but impossible-to-pronounce, Mtkvari River. The city, although surrounded by towering mountains, manages to maintain a temperate climate that keeps it relatively warm, even in February, when the mountains roads are blocked by snow. It is perhaps because of its temperate climate that Tbilisi has long attracted the envy of the numerous empires that have passed through its wall. From Persians, to Turks, to Russians, and even the brief Georgian Empire, numerous cultures have left their mark and turned Tbilisi into a melting pot of culture and learning, something even 70 years of...Read More

Supra: The Essential Georgian Experience

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Story/Tip

Market Photo, Tbilisi, Georgia
Quote:
If you are going to be in Georgia for any length of time, it would be a crime to miss out on the most quintessential Georgian experience, the supra. The Georgians take their eating seriously, and they take their celebrating even more seriously. They will find any reason to celebrate, and when they do, you had better be prepared for a long night full of drink, food, and endless toasts. It is guaranteed to be the most rewarding experience of your whole Georgia trip.Now, there are two main ways to experience a supra. The first is the easy way, by going to one of the "traditional" Georgian restaurants set up for tourists, and the hosts will organize a supra for you,...Read More

Tbilisi's Sulphur Baths

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Story/Tip

Baths Photo, Tbilisi, Georgia
Quote:
Tbilisi has long been famous for the piping-hot sulphur water that bubbles out of the ground along the banks of the Mtkvari River; in fact, that’s where the city gets it name. So, not surprisingly, Tbilisi has its fair share of bathhouses, all centered around the same district, Abanotubani. The famous bathhouses of Tbilisi have been written about by such famous authors as Pushkin and Dumas, so there was no doubt that I had to give them a try. Plus, I am a veteran of numerous voyages through the Middle East, and therefore I am well equipped to handle the bathhouse experience.Tbilisi in February can be fairly temperate, but still chilly and with a lot of rain. So I picked a grey, clou...Read More