Tbilisi, Georgia, 2019: the fun stuff

This is just here so I can point people to it.

This is a sequel to my post yesterday on all the bad stuff in Tbilisi.

I didn't really travel around because I'm here to rest and enjoy stability but here you go.

Taxis

For cabs, use the Maxim, Taxify, and Yandex apps. You'll need a local number though. I've found that hailing a cab by the road myself more than doubles the price. With the app, it's around 4.3-5.8 lari for this area. Without the app, they'll charge you 10 lari. One time at night when my friend wanted to come home after clubbing, the taxi driver tried to charge her 40 lari. I hate the gig economy so much but, well. This is a tough problem.

I suspect gig economy workers can charge so cheaply because they're not adding depreciation to their costs (not to mention other factors). If their equipment breaks down, I don't know if they can pay to repair or replace them.

Eateries

In Tbilisi itself, I focused mainly on eating. :)

Pricey, usually recommended

Enzo and Melnikova are a bit pricey to me and everyone loves them. Everyone except me.

Cheap, way better

Racha is supposedly one of the oldest restaurants in Tbilisi. I've not been but I hear the food is great and the service even better (wink wink). No spoilers except to say, while delivering food the waiter said in Russian to my Russian guests something like, "What's up with those Europeans? I've given them their dishes and they're still staring at me. Why are they staring at me?" Then he walked away.

Mapshalia is awesome and cheap and has a beautiful history but it's usually so crowded.

If Mapshalia is too crowded, Churi is nearby. I'm told it's famous among Japanese cyclists. Ikr, what a specific demographic.

Farther away and close to Marjanishvili metro station is Syrian Home/Al Hinawi, which has mouthwatering falafels and ful. Google Map says it's permanently closed. It's not. It's very much open and delicious.

There's a hole-in-the-wall donut stall near Mapshalia that sells donuts at 10 per lari. That's 10 sugar-frosted deep-fried donuts for a single lari. It's so dangerous. Don't go there. I gained so much weight.

Dezerter Bazaar if you're into grocery bazaars. I absolutely adore them.

Stroll about and once in a while you'll come across canteen-like eateries where you pick what you want and pay by weight. These are so good! Family Kitchen near Liberty Square is awesome, although the queue is confusing. After a while you realise there is no such thing as a queue in Georgia. I hate it. Gives me anxiety. Anyway, discount from 8-10pm.

Thai restaurants. For some reason, there are a lot of these around, and Thai massage parlours too. Not as spicy as in Thailand but, hey, I'll take what I can get, amirite? I'm quite interested to find out how the Thai community came to be here.

Cafes

Stamba Cafe is in a 5-star hotel that pays homage to its history as a former printing press. The cafe also retains decor from that time. I like its pumpkin tart.

Sio cafe is my favourite for its light and decor, and it's inside a probably historic winery. But tell the staff not to put too much sugar into your coffee and hot chocolate. There's an artwork by a famous Russian artist (I forget his name) in the same compound. It's a structure made in part with glass bricks. It's now being used as a storeroom, unfortunately.

Wine, chacha, etc

I don't know anything about alcohol.

Walk around

You can do Narikala Fortress and the Botanic Gardens on the same day. They're right next to each other.

The Chronicle of Georgia is also nice. It is extremely windy there. Wear a jacket. One of my friends had to wear a jacket even though it was summer. Hang on to your hats.

Museums

I really enjoyed the Open Air Ethnography Museum. It's what happens when you give an ethnographer money. He builds an educational village.

I didn't visit almost all the museums but I heard curation isn't really a thing here. I liked the one with the early humans exhibition though. I'll try to remember which one it is...

Budka

A cool indie art space. It has music jams, potluck dinners, movie screenings, and other activities. It's not always open so check out their events on the Facebook page. I won't link to FB cos it's evil and I hate them but you can find the page easily.

Co-working space

Fabrika is one of those coworking spaces where culture has been flattened to a single uniform image wherever they are in the world. People will tell you to visit it. I recognise that it's economically important at this stage of the country's growth but I loathe it and think it's boring and a waste of local flavour. But the millionaire who owns it sponsors local arts a lot.

Day trips

Gori + Uplistsikhe

I really liked the Uplistsikhe caves. You can take a minibus (mashrutka, I think it's called?) for 5 lari from Didube in Tbilisi to Gori. I think it's a 1-hour ride. In Gori, you can check out the Stalin Museum. It took my friend and I barely 35 minutes. We didn't want a guide but we heard they love Stalin so, if that's your thing. Stalin's train stands outside and at first look you'll think you can't enter. You can, but you'll need to ask around for someone to open it for you.

After the Stalin Museum, you can take a minibus for 1 lari from Gori to Uplistsikhe. It's like 30 minutes to get there. Then reverse the journey to come back. Last buses from both Uplistsikhe and Gori is 8pm, I think.

Dmanisi

My favourite. But it'll probably bore you to death unless like me you're interested in hominin history. This is where the earliest homo erectus remains outside of Africa were found. Unfortunately, nationalism has skewed the way people write about them so, take what you read with a large pinch of salt.

Anyway, go to Samgori metro. Ask where the bus station is. Two hours and 5 lari by bus from there to Dmanisi. Then 15-20 lari from there by taxi to the archaeological site. Ask the taxi driver to wait for you. Otherwise it'll be a pain trying to get back into town. (Please give him a tip.) Last bus back to Tbilisi is 5pm and it's usually packed so try to take the second-last bus just in case. Also try to go with a local else it'd be hard communicating.

The place might look closed when you arrive but my friend and I went in anyway and said hi to the 4 security guys there and fed their dog some dog food (idk why we had dog food on us) and then walked around. It's a modest site you can finish in 20-30min.

After that you can try out the Bronze age fortress remains nearby. Check out the ancient stone animals lining beaten paths. The place carries an air of Studio Ghibli style innocence, mystery, and wonder for me. But that's just me. You probably won't like it.

Mtskheta

The old capital. There isn't much but the old churches might be interesting. It's 1 lari from Didube in Tbilisi. There, you can get a cab to drive you to two more historic churches farther away for about 15-20 lari, I think. One is Jvari. I forget the other. Several couchsurfers said Mtskheta is boring. I agree.

There are several others, like the David Gareja caves, but I think they're kinda far. But google them if you wanna visit anyway.

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