Tbilisi and all that Jazz

Sunday 23 to Wednesday 26 November

After our drive from Yerevan through rain, sleet and snow it was quite delightful to wake up in Tbilisi to sunshine.  We took the hop-on-hop-off bus to get an understanding of the city.

Tbilisi is mostly a big modern city but there is a delightful old town.  This is a rambling ramshackle maze of cobble stoned streets, houses toppling over and tourist facilities such as restaurants, souvenir shops and travel agencies.  It is in this area that we stayed.

Legend has it that in the 5th century King Vakhtang I Gorgasali of Georgia went hunting in a heavily wooded region with a falcon. The King’s falcon caught a pheasant during the hunt, but both birds fell into a nearby hot spring and died from burns. King Vakhtang was so impressed with the hot springs that he decided to build a city on the location – which is Tbilisi.

Tbilisi became the capital of the area 6 centuries later when King David IV (David the Builder) unified the country.  He was canonised by the Georgian Orthodox Church for his promotion of Christian culture.

Tbilisi is the city of museums, it even ranked in the top four of number of museums in Soviet times.  We took time out to visit the Museum of Soviet Occupation – a rather frightening story of life under Soviet rule.

Typical of all post-Soviet countries, Georgia has endured protests and revolutions in its attempt to stabilise.  However Tbilisi now appears to be under development.  Large cranes could be seen everywhere and our tour guide pointed out many of the buildings under construction destined to be hotels in anticipation of increased tourism.

Sitting above the old city is the ancient fortress of Narikala.  A cable car ride across the river is a nice way to get there.  There isn’t much to see there, except the wonderful view of the city below.  The iconic Monument to Kartlis Deda sits near the fortress and watches over the city.

Along the river a park has been constructed in the shape of the country – an interesting concept. And from there the Bridge of Peace – a modern pedestrian bridge livens the landscape.

It rained on our final day and rather than get wet, we thought we would investigate the newest shopping precinct. This turned out to be a 30 minute drive out of Tbilisi and was full of promising stores.  At least we found a decent coffee.

Perhaps the best part of Tbilisi was its lively bars and restaurants with great beer, interesting wine and live music. One particular restaurant drew us back a couple of times to see a small Jazz trio who really livened up the nights.

Links in this page are from Wikipedia.

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