Natakhtari is the most popular beer in Georgia; a lager, a bit pils-type, very refreshing during the hot days; I like a lot wine, and some Georgian wines are famous, but on travel I almost always go for beer, knowing that I miss something local, but wine has to be drunk (at least for me) in special circumstances.
So, after an afternoon in the heat of the city, for a good refreshment, or for dinner, with a local kebab, or a delicious khatchapuri, beer is the best!
I do not know which beer the locals drank before, as this brand which exists since 2005, seems by far the most popular in the country; it comes from Efes brewery founded in 1990, just after freedom recovery.
A commercial movie here.
Of course you can have beer in every “serious” café, restaurant, etc. . . .
Favorite thing: Beautiful backyards in the old parts of Tbilissi are among the most interesting things to visit; these backyards are a bit the soul of the city, they all have the common charm of peaceful places, far from the hectic street side, the trees, the beautiful balconies and staircases, high climbing vine arbours providing shade in hot summer days. . . and all are different, have a bit of an own character. It can take time to visit a backyard, especially if people are curious about the tourist coming to visit them. The wooden balconies, the high windows of the high buildings are very beautiful for a person who is not used to these views, and the clotheslines give some charm to these backyards. Some of these places are well hidden, other more accessible; there are probably in most of the old parts of the city; the pictures here have been taken off the small streets between Freedom Place and Narikala fortress, on the left bank, off David Anagmashenebeli Avenue, and Bakradze street, but there are probably many places where you can find these backyards and have a little bit an insight to local life.
The Kura River (Mt'k'vari in Georgian) flows through Tbilissi, on its way to the Caspian Sea; its name derives most probably (but who can be sure with old assertions based on some linguistic observations or historic nationalism?) from Cyrus the Great, the Persian emperor.
Tbilissi has a number of bridges which link left and right banks, and if there are not anymore old bridges, the bridges one can walk or drive across today have all a personality.
Galaktioni Bridge is marked with signs from soviet times on the décor of its railing, but also interesting are the Assyrian (style) lions guarding it at each end.
The Bridge of Peace (picture 2) is a pedestrian bridge built in 2010, linking a modern park located at the feet of the new presidential palace with the old city on the right bank; this bow-shaped fishnet looks a bit out-of-place at first sight in this old city, but it finally looks nice, specially seen from the hills above the city (See pictures in other tips and travelogue).
The modern sculptures on Baratchvili Brige (picture3) certainly remind of commercial activities which took place in the area in the nineties, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Saarbrücken Bridge offers a totally different type of commercial activity (although linked to Soviet collapse too); there is a flea market (mainly on the right bank end) where you may find some antiques, old soviet medals, uniforms, and also whatever interesting things you may like to look for in a flea market (See flea market tip); here (picture 4), the bridge dominated by the modern Sameba Cathedral is seen from the left bank.
When you walk up to Narikala fortress or on one of the hills above the city, you can have a general view of the city and see the Kura River and some of its bridges (picture 5).
The churches of Tbilisi are some of the prominent landmarks of the city; some are very old, some are recent, some are big, some are small, some dominate the city some are hidden behind houses in a small street, some are just ruins. . . . The orthodox church of Georgia is very old established church and if the Soviet regime destroyed some buildings, used them as warehouses or stables, and had some “success” in propagating the “new religion”, the independence of 1991 showed that the religion was not dead. The new gained freedom was accompanied by restoring churches, building new ones, and the visitor sees lots of people in the streets make a genuflection or a sign of the cross when they pass by a religious building.
If you walk in Tbilisi, you will see many churches from the Georgian Orthodox Church, but also Armenian churches with katchkars in front of them, and a few catholic, protestant churches, mosques and a synagogue.
There are lots of churches here, and some of the small churches in the city are worth a visit for the paints, frescoes or just their moving simplicity, modesty; there are a few tips about churches in this page, but let us look at some as we just pass by in the streets or discover them from a viewpoint on a hill, or from the river banks. Churches also offer sometimes nice viewpoints, like here (picture 1) from Metheki Church toward Baratishvili Bridge.
From the Moghni Church ruins you can see the Bethlehemi Church (picture 2). You will notice that most churh tower are capped by octagonal roofs, but some have nice campaniles like here (picture 3), this chapel next to Sioni Cathedral; of course when you enter in a church, you will not miss St George and the Dragon (picture 4); if you walk up to Narikala Fort, you will see church towers all over the city and the huge Sameba Church dominating the city (picture 5) is impossible to miss.
I was walking into town one night to have dinner when I came across a real bread bakery near the Avlabari Metro Station. Somehow I got into a conversation with the owner, George and the 2 guys who work for him. This of course led to vodka. And more vodka. Over the course of the next 3-4 hours I managed to obtain 2 excellent bottles of Georgian Vodka, a small cooked chicken and bread. Lots and lots of bread. George and the guys talked to me about their lives, their jobs, cost of living, history and many stories about Georgia. Politics? Religion? Of course we talked about them. My bread dinner was the most basic meal I have ever had while travelling – and one of the best ever. I watched them making bread, interacting with customers and talking to their friends and family who stopped by.
So if you find yourself near the Avlabari Metro Station – buy a bit of bread and you may get some priceless cultural insight into Georgia….. and learn how to shout “Gaumardschoss” between shots of vodka!
(The last picture is the name of the bakery)
Favorite thing: I'm a dog loving person,and I know that they are great friends of human but sometimes we do not take care of them..they just need a little pay attention and love and respect...but they are always take care and protect us just for a piece of bread..Here are the my friends in T'bilisi...White one was guide me in the Old city:)
To find out Visa requirment, fees, who is excempt and who is not click on this link
To find out the address of Georgian Embassies abroad click on this link
To find out what countries have Embassies in Georgia click on this link. Please note that some of these Embassies are NOT located in Georgia. So be carful !! The last link is also worth looking
Also check this page for more consulates in Tblisi. The embassy might not be in tbilisi but the consulate is.
Favorite thing: As mentioned on my Tbilisi and Georgia pages, we mostly based ourselves in Tbilisi, and took some day trips. For the most part, they were via marshrutka, picked up at Didube station, but to get to Davit Gareja, we hired a taxi. As of this writing, the going rate for a taxi for the day seems to be 100 laris.
Favorite thing: If you walk down Rustaveli avenue you will come across an alleyway marked with an internet sign. It is about a 5 to 8 minute walk past the McDonalds and Cinema (keep to the right side). If you see an English sign go down the alleyway and it is on the right side. They have excellent internet facilities plus they will print you off a much needed Tbilisi Metro Map in Georgian and English for 1.5 Lari. Very useful!
The old town in Tbilisi is very charming - sometimes in ruins, other times (not yet so often) restored, always authentic... not a tourist trap.
To me the old town is synonymous of wooden building and quaint balconies, in pastel colours.. There are some fine examples in Baratashvili kucha.
Fondest memory: Other interesting old town streets are shavteli kucha, sionis kucha and leselize. The latter one has become the hub for Tbilisi's nightlife, and you can find a large number of outdoor cafes and restaurants.
Avlabari is a district of Tbilisi located on the opposite side of the Mtkvari river from Ortachala. Avlabari is an Arab-derived place name meaning "area beyond the wall", and in fact looking up at Avlabari from the river, you will see remnants of the old city wall along and beyong which there are scores of beautiful merchant homes.
Fondest memory: Old houses in this part of town are like sparrow nests hung up high on a cliff and are very colourful. There are cobbled strees and long stairs, and most home have traditional quaint balconies - all seem to have undergone a facelift recently, and nothing is in rumbles. The most noteworthy landmark of this area is the scenic Metekhi church.
A legend about its fundation: one day King Vakhtang I Gorgasali went hunting in the woods with a falcon; then the said falcon caught a pheasant and the two birds fell on the ground and died of... burns. The king had discovered the famous hot springs. Soon he decided to cut down some trees and build a city, calling it "Tpili", an old Georgian word for warm.
Fondest memory: Aside the hot springs, what I mostly liked was the architecture, especially in the old town and Avlabari: a mix of Georgian traditional architecture with Byzantine and Middle Eastern influences. And don't forget the amazing nightlife: Tbilisi is a very vibrant city.
If you are at all interested in the culture and history of Azerbaijan and Georgia, then I can recommend a good book..."Ali and Nino" tells the tale of Muslim Ali Khan Shirvanshir who falls head over heels in love with Christain Nino Kipiani. The story takes place in the early years of the 20th century, a time of great upheaval in the region...and throughout this, Ali, the narrator, struggles to understand his love for Nino the European while preserving his own cultural identity. Romance, adventure, history, murder, humour, intrigue, an insight into Islamic thought and a dramatic setting...all the ingredients for a fantastic read.
Set primarily in Baku, the two lovers visit relatives in Tbilisi, flee to Teheran during the Russian invasion of Baku, and spend time in exile in a Daghestani mountain aoul...so if you are travelling in the region, Kurban Sa'id's extraordinary novel should make the perfect travel companion.
I first read this book in Tbilisi, after my trip to Baku, and found it interesting to see which places I recognised from the story, like the Shirvanshir's palace in Baku and the old baths in Tbilisi. Since then, I've read the novel several times, and even ended up teaching it to a very advanced group of English students in Khartoum! I think this may be my favourite book ;@P
Fondest memory: I always think that the best way to get to know a city is by walking. My friend's apartment was in the area of Vake, which is a fair distance from the centre of things...it took me about an hour to walk through the suburbs, past Vake Park and the Tbilisi State University, the grand buildings on Rustavelis Gamziris to Tavisuplebis Moedani (Freedom Square) and the beginning of the old town. One of the reasons for walking everywhere, everyday, was that I like walking...another is that the bus and Marshrutka system completely mystified me, as all bus signs were written in Georgian. I learnt how to read the Georgian alphabet on bits of paper, but not on buses zooming past at 60 miles an hour. So I never took a city bus, and stayed off the underground train system too, for the same reasons.
Fondest memory: I understand that it sound quite ordinary. Everywhere the old town is a place to see. But it's the only way to make an image about the city abd the country as a whole. Tbilisi has a really unique architecture where you can see authentic georgian, bysantine, persian and european features. Just have a look at the buildings along Kura river on the hills, looking into the water and seem that they're going to fall down into the river