Iced coffee at Borani cafe overlooking the west bank and Narikala citadel.

Iced coffee at Borani cafe overlooking the west bank and Narikala citadel.

On our second (sunny) day, we decided to explore the east bank of the Kura river (Mtkvari river).

We took the metro from Marjanishvili station and got off at Avlabari station.

The East bank and the cable car from Rike Park to Narikala

The East bank and the cable car from Rike Park to Narikala

Holy Trinity Cathedral

Sameba seen from Mtatsminda Park.

Sameba seen from Mtatsminda Park.

Our first stop: the Holy Trinity Cathedral, commonly known as Sameba.  This ambitious building finished in 2004 and is the main cathedral of the Georgian Orthodox Church.

The Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Church in full communion with the other churches of Eastern Orthodoxy. It is Georgia's dominant religious institution. It asserts Apostolic foundation, and its historical roots can be traced to the Christianization of Iberia by Saint Nino in the 4th century AD.

Aerial Tramway

The Aerial Tramway

The Aerial Tramway

After having walked a lot in little streets and leafy avenues, it was time to see Tbilisi from above.

The Aerial Tramway (cable car) opened in 2012 and connects Rikhe Park (Europe Square) with Sololaki Hill, Kartlis Deda and Narikala Fortress.

The ride up costs 2,5 lari (paid by Metrocard) and offers great views during its 2 minutes journey.

Aerial Tramway photographed from Metekhi Bridge.  The modern Bridge of Pease can be seen at the background.

Aerial Tramway photographed from Metekhi Bridge.  The modern Bridge of Pease can be seen at the background.

Mother Georgia

Kartlis Deda on the top of Sololaki hill.

Kartlis Deda on the top of Sololaki hill.

Kartlis Deda (mother of a Georgian/Kartli) is a huge statue which was erected on the top of Sololaki hill in 1958, the year Tbilisi celebrated its 1500th anniversary. Prominent Georgian sculptor Elguja Amashukeli designed the twenty-meter aluminium figure of a woman in Georgian national dress. She symbolizes the Georgian national character: in her left hand she holds a bowl of wine to greet those who come as friends, and in her right hand is a sword for those who come as enemies.

the boat trip

the view from Borani cafe

the view from Borani cafe

Back from the Sololaki Hill looking for a cool place to escape from the intense sun.  

Borani cafe is an excellent place under the trees and just on the river bank off Europe Square.

Borani cafe is built on two levels: the top level is a cafeteria and the bottom one is a traditional restaurant. 

What makes the place really interesting is that they have boats to take you up and down the river.  For just 20 lari per person we had a 30 minute trip in the river, on a small catamaran boat.

They even have a floating restaurant for thematic or party dinners.

Narikala fortress

Narikala Fortress seen from Mirza Fatali Akhudovi street

Narikala Fortress seen from Mirza Fatali Akhudovi street

Narikala is an impressive fortress overlooking the old city and the river.

The fortress consists of two walled sections on a steep hill between the sulphur baths and the botanical gardens.

On the lower court there is the recently restored St Nicholas church. Newly built in 1997, it replaced the original 13th-century church which was destroyed in a fire. The internal part of the church is decorated with frescos showing scenes both from the Bible and history of Georgia.

The fortress was established in the 4th century as Shuris-tsikhe ("Invidious Fort"). It was considerably expanded by the Umayyads in the 7th century and later, by king David the Builder (11th century). The Mongols renamed it to "Narin Qala" ("Little Fortress"). Most of extant fortifications date from the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1827, parts of the fortress were damaged by an earthquake and demolished.

Besides taking the cable car to reach the fortress, one can take Orbiri street (just opposite the main entrance of State museum of Georgian folk Songs and Instruments) and walk up, or take the car to some point up and then continue on foot.

Borani Cafe on the map.

Borani Cafe on the map.

on the boat

Rhike Park seen from the boat

the narrowest part of Kura river seen from the boat

Old Tbilisi and River Kura

Old Tbilisi and River Kura

seen from the river

seen from the river

Mount Mtatsminda.

Mount Mtatsminda.

mount Mtatsminda

Mtatsminda Park.

Mtatsminda Park.

The highest point of the city is Mount Mtatsminda (meaning the Holy Mountain).  

Mtatsminda Park is a famous landscaped park located at the top of Mount Mtatsminda (at a height above 720m) overlooking the Georgian capital. The park has carousels, water slides, a roller-coaster, and a big Ferris Wheel offering a splendid view of the city.  The park was founded by the Soviet government in the 1930s and was once noted as the 3rd most visited public park in the USSR.

Next to the park is standing Tbilisi TV Broadcasting Tower, a free-standing tower structure used for communications purposes. The tower was built in 1972 and replaced a structure, built in 1955, which was moved to the vicinity of the city of Gori. 

the Funicular

The lower station of the Funicular at Daniel Chonqadze St.

The lower station of the Funicular at Daniel Chonqadze St.

There are two ways to reach all the facilities on Mount Mtatsminda.  The long way: bus No 124.  The bus ride lasts about 20-30 minutes, as it stops at several neighborhoods around the mountain.  Nevertheless, the road is newly build and of good condition. 

The other way to reach the top of the mountain, the most spectacular one, is to take the Tbilisi Funicular. 

The lower station of the Funicular is located at Daniel Chonqadze Street. 

There is an intermediate stop before reaching the top of the mountain, at the Mtatsminda Pantheon of Writers and Public Figures, which is a necropolis, where some of the most prominent writers, artists, scholars, and national heroes of Georgia are buried. It is located in the churchyard around St. David’s Church "Mamadaviti" and was officially established in 1929. 

The Funicular complex.

The Funicular complex.

The top station of the Funicular is located into a huge building (the Funicular Complex) which has stunning panoramic views over Tbilisi.

The Funicular Complex includes 5 separates dining facilities and an Event Hall for conferences, wedding receptions and parties.

the icecream

Luca Polare at Davit Aghmashenebeli avenue.

Luca Polare at Davit Aghmashenebeli avenue.

After a long hot day, what is better than a cup or cone of ice cream?

Back to our neighborhood and off to Luca Polare at David Aghmashenebeli avenue.... just some blocks from our hotel.

I do not think that Tbilisi could be remembered for its ice cream, but there is a chain of 5 ice cream shops (established in 2008 in Tbilisi), which could satisfy your need for ice cream.  Try the pistachio... my favorite.

pistachio and gianduja

pistachio and gianduja

It is very common to see vendors in the streets of Tbilisi making ice cream rolls in front of your eyes

It is very common to see vendors in the streets of Tbilisi making ice cream rolls in front of your eyes

Let's talk about Food (Part I - bread)

bread with spinach and herbs, lobio and shoti

bread with spinach and herbs, lobio and shoti

not simply bread

Imeruli khachapuri at BreadHouse restaurant.

Imeruli khachapuri at BreadHouse restaurant.

The first think that comes into our mind, when we think of Georgia, is Khachapuri (Khacha=cheese and puri=bread).  There are many “puri” in this country and certainly much more than that.

Breads

Traditional Georgian bread comes in many variations, and includes Tonis Puri, Khacha Puri, Shotis Puri, Mesxuri Puri and Mchadi. Georgian bread is traditionally baked in a large, round, well-shaped oven called tone (similar to the tandoori oven).

Shotis puri or simply Shoti is the typical Georgian bread made of white flour and shaped like a canoe. 

It always comes into quantities and hot from the oven.  A typical scene in Georgian towns is people carry around an armful of shotis.

The perfect bread to dip into a sauce! 

Megruli khachapuri

Megruli khachapuri

Khatchapuri comes into many varieties, but the most common ones are the Imeruli which has cheese only inside and the Megruli khachapuri which has cheese both inside and on the top.

Megruli is a flatbread that is stuffed with a layer of cheese (usually, Imeruli cheese or/and Sulguni cheese), then topped with grated sulguni cheese and baked to golden. Shortly before it is finished, slabs of sulguni are added to the top and it’s briefly returned to the oven so they can melt just a bit.

Achma has multiple layers and looks more like a sauceless lasagna.

Osuri khachapuri has potato, as well as cheese, in its filling. It is commonly called Khabizgini.

Penovani khachapuri is made with puff pastry dough, resulting in a flaky variety of the pie.

Acharuli.

Acharuli.

Acharuli could also quailify as a khachapuri. It’s a deep filled cheese boat! Loaded with cottage cheese, then topped with sulguni cheese, and browned in the oven. It’s served by being topped with a raw egg that cooks on the hot cheese, as well as a wedge of butter that melts all over. Tear off generous pieces of the outer bread crust to dip in the cheesy centre.

This is really a magical dish of heart clogging proportions.

Lobiani and pies at Puri Guliani restaurant at the Funicular complex

Lobiani and pies at Puri Guliani restaurant at the Funicular complex

Lobiani is a bean-filled bread. The most popular is Rachuli Lobiani, like a Khachapuri, but with beans and bacon inside.

The word "Lobiani" comes from the Georgian word for kidney beans, which is "Lobio". 

Lobiani is especially eaten on the Georgian holiday of Barbaroba, or St. Barbara’s Day (December 17).

Kubdari

Kubdari is a bread filled with chunks of meat, which can be lamb, kiddney or pork, spices and onions.

Flatbread filled with spinach, coriander and other herbs is another magical treat. 

Day 3 

(at the markets)

Maybe the best place for Pelamushi...if you are lucky to find it!

Maybe the best place for Pelamushi...if you are lucky to find it!

Next day, we decided to take it easy.  We woke up rather late and we decided to have a coffee and Pelamushi at Barbarestan. Yummy Yummy!

We sat outside (it has only 3 small tables outside), as I love to sit and watch people passing by.  The previous days, we tried to sit outside, but all tables were occupied.

The very gentle young man announced us that they do not serve Pelamushi before 12:30 p.m.  To tell you the truth I did not understand why...so we were very disappointed.  At least we had some nice Turkish coffee anyway.

Barbaristan is a restaurant that serves “Georgian fusion” cuisine.  I have big reservations about that kind of restaurants in general.  I went thru the menu the first day we visited and there was really nothing interesting for me to eat as a firstcomer in the country.  Whichever site about Tbilisi you visit you read the best reviews about this restaurant.  Obviously, they have very good PR!  But, I should not be bitchy:  maybe it is a good restaurant for the locals who need something different than the traditional establishments, but not good for the tourist who wants to taste the genius Georgian cuisine the 2-3 days visiting the city. 

main Railway station

The main Train Station building.

The main Train Station building.

We walked to the main Railway station.  The absolute chaos.  It is almost impossible to find the main station building, as there is an adjasent to it shopping mall, a casino (!) and lots of small shops and sheds selling everyhing you can think of.

This is  an early 90s building which replaced a wonderful 40s stalinistic building. 

Dinamo market

Dinamo market.

Dinamo market.

Next to the train station there is a colorful huge market selling meat, fish, vegetables, fruit and spices. 

It is called Dinamo Market and it is extended far from the original building into small streets and houses.

Dinamo market / Dinamo Arena / Tbilisi Central Railway Station

Dinamo market / Dinamo Arena / Tbilisi Central Railway Station

Dinamo market

Dinamo market

Dinamo market

Dinamo market Products.

Dinamo market Products.

Vake neighborhood

Vake park

Vake park

To escape from the bustling streets, the crowds and the noise we headed towards Vake neighborhood.

Vake neighborhood is an upscale neighborhood south of river Vere, between the Tbilisi Zoo to the east and Vake park to the west. 

It is probably the most “European” neighborhood of the city, with nice cafes, brand shops and a relaxed and quiet atmosphere.  Tabla Saloon is a nice restaurant if you feel hungry.  We visited Paul café for a more “Parisian” and familiar feeling and of course the typical chocolate cheesecake.

Dry Bridge Flea Market

At the east end of Saarbrucken Bridge, at the Dadaena Park by the river, there is an open air daily flea market.  It is called the Dry Bridge Market.

The area is huge and one can find old soviet memorabilia, useless machinery parts, paintings and other artifacts, old books and music records.  Do not expect anything really of a value or real antiques here.  If you are after real antiques you have to check into the shops around the park.

Dry Bridge Market and Flea Market

Dry Bridge Market and Flea Market

The area south of Dry Bridge Market

The area south of Dry Bridge Market

Davit Aghmashenebeli ave.

Typical late 19th/early 20th century building on Agmashenebeli Ave.

Typical late 19th/early 20th century building on Agmashenebeli Ave.

When I booked the hotel I had no idea which neighborhood is beautiful and appropriate for our stay.  As always, my criterion was the convenience of commuting.  Of course, I checked some pictures and “google street”, but when our taxi (coming from the airport) entered into David Agmashenebeli Ave, I was really confident and complacent because I had chosen a really beautiful place to stay.

David Agmashenebeli Ave orientation map

David Agmashenebeli Ave orientation map

David Agmashenebeli Ave is a long street (about 2 km long) on the eastern bank of the Kura river: starting from Saarbrucken square and ending at Giorgi Tsabadze street, just a block away from Dinamo Market.

The avenue has been refurbished recently.  All the buildings of the street have gone a thorough renovation (at least the facades, as like in many streets in Tbilisi, the back of the buildings is much neglected and sometimes in ruins) showing off the amazingly beauty of the buildings.

Tsarist architecture prevails, but there are also some excellent examples of soviet architecture here.

the lower part of David Agmashenebeli Ave in the night

the lower part of David Agmashenebeli Ave in the night

The lower part of David Agmashenebeli Ave (the one close to Saarbrucken square), has been recently pedestrianized for about half kilometer and has been transformed into a very beautiful neighborhood full of cafes, restaurants, clubs and street entertainment.   People hanging around, street musicians, lights and laughter in a very relaxing and gay atmosphere.   

Enjoying life at the lower part of Agmashenebeli Ave.

Soviet architecture in Agmashenebeli Ave.

19th century architecture in Agmashenebeli Ave.

further useful tips

You can enjoy Georgia's Soviet Architectural Heritage as it is captured by Italian photographers Roberto Conte and Stefano Perego in a beautiful article in www.archdaily.com.

here's the full links:

Let's talk about Food (Part II)

Comments

17.12.2017 08:43

Alex

Such a smart story teller. I live in Tbilisi and reading your post made me love this place more. Reading the way a foreigner sees my city made me love it more!