My 6 days in Tbilisi (well, 6 nights anyway) are over.
It is a long trip from Scotland with very limited flight connections, but it was an excellent decision to make it. I will blog about the nuts and bolts of the travel and accommodation another time.
I reckon 80% of the other tourists around were Russian speaking, which may reflect the easy access for them (depending on where exactly they live, obviously) and more difficult travel arrangements if you live in northwest Europe.
The weather was hotter than I expected for May and I did have to adjust my ambitions in terms of activities. An excursion to another part of the country had been a possibility, but with the temperature between 25⁰ and 29⁰ for much of the day, I was not going to spend large chunks of it in a tour bus or minivan.
Not seeing anything of Georgia apart from the capital is a regret. It is also good reason to go back.
Wine is a huge part of the economy and you find wine shops around every corner. Excursions to vineyards are popular and tastings in Tbilisi are too. I tried it a couple of times and was very impressed with the Saperavi (a grape variety native to Georgia).
I enjoyed the local food too.
My apartment was a huge success. It was clean, quiet and comfortable – just as I hoped. It was very central and only 5 minutes walk to Freedom Square – one of the city’s hubs – so ideal for taking a bus or the metro. I had shops close by, and restaurants.
Prices can be incredibly low by Western European standards, but needless to say they can be westernised upwards when it suits. The airport charges “western” prices. I also remember paying 18 lari (£4.80) for a cappuccino and cake in a hipster type place in the city.
On the other hand, the public bus and metro fare is 0.50 lari. At about £1 to 3.75 lari, that’s a real bargain. I got an excellent bottle of Saperavi from Schuchmann (one of the best known vineyards) for 12 lari – £3.
I found the people to be friendly and helpful. In some parts Tbilisi looks very dilapidated, but the renovated or redeveloped parts look fantastic.
I hope I do get the chance to go back!
ⓒ iain taylor, 2019