If you are looking for some nice getaway destinations over the sizzling summer months, Tbilisi should definitely be on your list.
Easily reachable via a three-hour flight from the UAE on affordable airlines such as flydubai or Air Arabia, a weekend is not too short to see the main attractions in Tbilisi. Around 1.5 million out of the 4 million inhabitants are living in the capital and largest city of the country. It is located on the banks of the Kura River. Turkey and Armenia in the south, Azerbaijan in the east, Russia in the north and the Black Sea in the west surround Georgia. The second largest city, Batumi is located on the coast of the Black Sea and will be another destination to visit soon.
Travel to Georgia is easy as the visa regulations are very favourable to most nationalities. Ruled by many different nations and with different religious backgrounds, those influences reflect in the architecture and the culture. Tbilisi originates from an Old Georgian term which means ‘warm location’. It was given to the city due to its numerous sulphuric hot springs.
Georgia is on the border between Europe and Asia. And even though it belongs to Asia, it is referred to as the balcony of Europe. The modern buildings and constructions, which are popping up all over the city are displaying the rapid progress. Getting around in Georgia is comparatively affordable and you will be able to make the best out of your hard-earned money!
The Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel is a great address. Walking distance from the old town, directly on the riverbank, it offers a beautiful outdoor pool as well as an indoor pool with amazing views over the city. Taking the walk from the hotel to the old town is already full of great picturesque highlights such as the little ‘walk of fame’ in front of the Sacharia-Paliaschwili Theatre or the exhibition of some statuary along the Georgian National Museum. You will also pass the Freedom Square, which is a busy roundabout.
Reaching from one side to the other can take long but there is an underground pedestrian crossing, which is also very interesting and a good place to get some souvenirs. When you get into the old town, it is a bit like a labyrinth with all the small streets and alleys. However, each place offers something to explore. You will be able to find some cute restaurants offering delicious breakfast and meals.
However, my favourites are the little houses with the balconies. All along the way there are people selling fruits for refreshment. Head down to the Freedom Bridge – one of the modern constructions in the city. You will find it a great spot to take pictures of the area and especially of the Statue of King Vakhtang Gorgasali – with the cathedral in the background – rising up on a small hill down the river. Cross the river and take the tramway up to the Mother of Georgia. The view you have of the city from here is spectacular! You can wander around the Botanical Garden or also take the zip line. There are a few restaurants there as well, where you can have a snack or some ice cream. An absolute must when you are in Tbilisi are the sulphur baths. History says that this is the reason why the city was built here. With temperatures up to 40 degrees, the sulphur, and other mineral content, the waters have been used for therapeutic aid for long. Due to the high demand, it is recommended to book in advance.
With all the churches around town, it is difficult to say which one is the best to visit. However, depending on your interest you can visit them all. Nevertheless, a must see is the Sameba cathedral, which rises up over the city on the other side of the river. Shining bright with its golden tower roof and huge in size, it is not hard to miss!
Taking a stroll along the river can be full of surprises. You will find a lot of small parks to rest but also many markets selling art or used things. It is what makes the city really homey and intimate.
With many new and stunning impressions, the weekend came to an end. Nevertheless, due to its proximity and convenient flights I will definitely travel to Georgia again to explore the rest of the country. ■
Written by: Denise Ostermann
Photos: Denise Ostermann
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this article was published in OutdoorUAE printed magazine issue #94 April – May 2019
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