Wandering in Wonderful Tbilisi

After spending a relaxing and full of nice emotions day, and a lazy walks in the empty streets of beautiful Mtskheta it’s time to go back to Tbilisi. Minibuses work frequently and with the same 1 GEL price they will take you back to the same bus station close to Didube metro station. From here you are free to go whenever you need. Our destination was the Old Town of Tbilisi and to get there we needed to take a metro and spend another 20 minutes on the way. Then 5 minutes by walk and here we are, checking in our nice and cozy hotel.
The weather wasn’t much pleasant. It was raining all the time but nothing could stop us! We had just one day and a bit more to spend in Tbilisi and a lot of things to see. After leaving the bags in the room we hurried to go walking. Walking down the street we passed the Presidental Palace, from where the view to the old part of the city is opened. Here the first place that catches the attention is the nice Rike Park, which had some small attractions for kids, unusual monuments such as a giant royal or a steel made tree with locks and a huge concert hall with modern architecture. Also from this park you can cross the Mtkvari river by Liberty bridge, which is one of the famous places for tourists, especially in the evening, when it’s shining in colorful lights. Here is also a starting point to take the Aerial Tramway to get to the Narikala Fortress, about which I’ve already told you in one of my previous posts.

But today we’re going to take another way to get high and that was the funicular of Tbilisi. We decided to walk through the city to reach it instead of taking any transport. We were walking under the rain without umbrella. All our clothes were already wet and even if we had umbrellas they wouldn’t help, because the wind was so strong and changed the directions of rain drops easily. But this was adding more fun to our day. 
Here we are, buying the tickets for the funicular that will take us up to the hill, from where we expect to have a nice view to the whole city. On top of the hill is the Mtatsminda amusement park, which we’re going to explore. But the day had more surprise for us. Still on the way up we saw how the dense fog is closing the city. When we were in place, we hurried to check the view and you know what? We saw nothing except the white layer of fluffy cloud over the city. 
There were not much crazy ones as us. The park was almost empty and with this fog it looked like a ghost town. But we saw some more crazy people than us. There was a group of people in the park and they surrounded a couple that was getting married right there, in the foggy rainy park. And they were so happy! It turns out that the big white building in the beginning of the park had some cafes and lounge bars inside as well as a big wedding hall where people celebrate their important dates with a nice view to the city (usually:) ). 
But the park is not for going to restaurants only. Actually this is quite a big park with a lot of attractions for small and big kids, such as Fortune wheel, small and big roller-coasters, scary rooms in medieval style fortress, some cinema rooms, etc. Everywhere you will see maps and arrows showing directions to the places you look for. But the most picturesque place here was the colorful buildings with twisted roofs. If you are lover of unusual beauties, then it’s worth to come here even in such foggy day, because if you are lucky, fog will go away for minutes so you can take some pictures here!
It’s getting dark and more cold in here and it’s time to go back, to eat something and go to sleep. But before that we need something to warm up. And what can be better for that here in Tbilisi, land of wine? Exactly, mulled wine (gluhwein). We found a small shop that was yet open and had this sweet and warm drink, bought some and walked to the funicular drinking our hot wine. We walked down to the Old Town again by foot, found a nice place to have a tasty dinner, walked a bit more in the park, had some fun (maybe that was the wine that we had with the food) and then went to have some rest in our room, dry our clothes and get ready for tomorrow.
A new day has come and luckily it wasn’t raining. Moreover, we had some sun warming up the air. We had only half of the day to spend in Tbilisi but still had a lot of places to visit and didn’t want to waste a minute more at the hotel. After having our tasty breakfast we hurried to get outside and start our walking tour of the day. First we visited St. Trinity Cathedral, which is a large religious complex with a bell tower, monastery & seminary. Its golden dome was shining under the sun and was visible from far. I don’t know it’s a coincidence or not, but every time I come here, there is always a ceremony happening. And today as well. This is really a gorgeous place to come and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. The only thing that was annoying were old women persistently begging for money outside the cathedral.
We continued our walking through the city and went down to the riverside. Every time we try to take a new street to walk, as here in the old part of Tbilisi you can discover so many cozy corners and nice surprises. While walking on one of the cobblestone covered streets we’ve found one of those places with a nice place to take pictures with an empty street. I believe this is not the only one and everywhere can be seen this kind of old buildings surrounded with sweet attributes.
We reached the river and needed to cross it somehow. The ways to do that were to find a bridge nearby or take a underground passage. We chose the second option but we didn’t know what surprise was waiting for us here. I never saw such place full of those kind of street art. This was not only some paintings or quotes done on the walls. These were illustrated works of Georgian and international young artists who painted on walls during participation on International Festival of Street Art. Here you can find faces of people, animals, some astronomical views and many other paintings. If you are a street art lover, you should visit this underground passage adjacent to Baratashvili bridge. I’m sure you’ll like every corner of this 2 way pass walls.
And here we are again, on another side of Mtkvari river and there is one place which is mandatory to visit for every Armenian (at least). This is the 13th century Armenian church St. George located in Old Tbilisi and is one of the two functioning Armenian churches in Tbilisi. According to Armenian historians Hovsep Orbeli and Levon Melikset-Bek, the church was founded in 1251. There is a cross-stone (khachkar) over the western door of the church yard on which you can see Arabic inscriptions saying about the date when the church was founded. After 1930s this church became the seat of the Georgian Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The church interior is decorated with 18th-century paintings by Hovnatan Hovnatanian. In 1922 and 1923 another Armenian great painter Gevorg Bashinjaghian decorated the church’s internal walls, the altar, and the walls in front of it, creating four large murals: Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, The Repentance of Judas, Jesus and the Boatmen, Harvest time. At the church courtyard you’ll see Armenian poet and musician, master of love lyrics Sayat-Nova’s tomb-memorial, but he’s not the only famous person buried here. G. Bashinjaghian and some other Armenians are also buried in this courtyard. 
Walking up the hill will take you to the Narikala fortress, but we decided to walk on not very popular streets on this area of Old Tbilisi and try to find something new. Here the main thing that caught attention was the age of the buildings and their architecture. This was showing how old is this part of the city. All houses were very old, all needed a good repair. Sometimes it felt like they’re going to demolish. But almost all of them were decorated with with specific style of balconies and colorful glassed windows. This area wasn’t much crowded, I believe most of the tourists prefer to go to the well-known touristic attractions but there were still some hidden home-style hotels here where you’d feel yourself as a local and will have a great view to the old part of Tbilisi and the river.
Tbilisi is really full of surprised. You think leaning towers can only be found in Italy? No! There is one in this sunny city as well. Even when you see a steel beam holding the quirky leaning tower, don’t think it’s one the old buildings of Tbilisi. It is a modern tower, attached to the puppet theater of renowned puppeteer Rezo Gabriadze and is one of the city’s most unusual buildings. A huge clock sits in the middle of the disheveled tower, with a leaning column on its side. Every hour a window opens at the small balcony at the top, and a mannequin of an angel strikes the bell. Below the clock, a screen opens and shows the circle of life: boy meets girl, marriage, childbirth and funeral. Mark this place as it is one of the must visit places in Tbilisi.
Not very far from the leaning tower there is puppet museum founded in 1937. The museum collection consists of more than 3000 pieces made in 19th-20th centuries by artists from India, China, Japan and European countries. The significant part of the collection comprised by single-copy puppets exclusively made for this museum by local masters. On the way to the museum, while walking on Shavdeli street, you can see many bronze sculptures, such as the sculpture of a mail carrier and his friend chatting on a bench sits, sculpture of janitor, monument to the Lamplighter and others. The last and the biggest one is the Berikaoba (national Georgian holiday) sculpture group showing dancing people with happy faces.
It’s time to go back to the hotel and take our small bags to go to the bus station, as only in 1-2 hour we’ll have to leave this city and come back home. But before that there was once more place to cross, which was on our way, on the same bank of the river. 
At the end of Chardin street (which is probably the most famous within tourists with its cafes and night life), from the embankment side, right next to the Art Gallery Line, stands an excellent and exciting monument to the distinguished producer and artist, a great Armenian – Sergey Parajanov, jumping out of a green wall. The monument was made in Italy and was produced in accordance with the picture of the Georgian photographer Urii Mechitov, who took a picture of Parajanov ‘in flight’. No matter how much we try, we can’t “jump higher” than this great artist, who invented his own, unique cinematic style.
But it’s time to leave. Time spent in Georgia was short but full of stories to tell and to keep in secret. There is even a nameplate on one of the walls in Old Tbilisi saying that what happened in Tbilisi stays in Tbilisi πŸ™‚ However, no any minute of our time was wasted here in vain. We enjoyed every single place, despite of the rain and cold, and we leave the city with a big smile and we’ll come back here many times. Don’t forget to get your bag of wine and cheese before leaving Georgia πŸ˜‰
See you soon with new stories from new places!
Read more about gems of Georgia here.

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