December has been a busy month with lots of long weekends and packed suitcases for me. The second weekend in December, I flew to Georgia- Tbilisi with my friends for a little ‘girl’s trip’.
Only 3 something hours away, it’s the perfect getaway from Dubai and a fab change of scenery. While, I did check it would be cold- about -3 degrees of it, I didn’t expect it to be freezing my mind off cold.
We landed at 2am, and had booked a driver, Lucky Bhaiya (Bhaiya is hindi for older brother) through somebody. I will tell you more about the amazing Lucky Bhaiya in the later posts.
We were staying at the Iveria Inn.. The lovely little hotel was 12 minutes away from the old town by car ( we didn’t get a chance to take the local metro! 😦 ) Since we had only booked Lucky Bhaiya from the second day, the first day he just dropped us off at the Rustaveli Square in Tbilisi.
Here begins the crazy adventure.
- It was FREEZING COLD. I’m not exaggerating- it was so cold that our iPhones kept shutting down. Literally, shutting down because it was too cold.
- I didn’t have enough layers on. I was wearing three layers (one big jacket included) and I was still cold. I was wearing really thin socks. So once I bought and wore two pairs of socks (one really long and one really wooly), I felt slightly better.
- WIND. It wasn’t just windy. It was super and blow-you-away-from-the-way windy. I was finding it difficult to stand still.
While I had this insanely planned itinerary, which would probably make me sound extremely anal and controlling, the wind and cold changed my plan. So, our savior- the red Hop-on, hop-off bus- came when we needed it the most- our phones were dead and our faces were frozen. On 50 lari per person, it seemed like the ideal choice.
We took the bus and kept getting off everywhere- around lunch we got off at Marjanishvili square, where wandered around for two hours and had lunch at this Indian Restaurant called, ‘Sanjha Chulha’. The food was good, the place was warm. The road was full of little stores, old theaters and very lovely people from Tbilisi.
A quick two hours later, back in the bus, we took a city tour. It was really windy- so windy that they stopped the cable cars- bummer. Our plan was to walk up the Narikala Fortress and come down in the cable car! We got off at their last stop Meydan square and started our climb to the fortress. It was around 4pm. There wasn’t exactly a sun- but it was so so windy. We took refuge in a little cafe – which was more like somebody’s living room. It was adorable and silly- the hot chocolate had little too much sugar, but the chocolate fondant cake made up for it.
We continued our hike after, reached the top of the fortress- the sight was beautiful and yes- breath-taking. Mother Georgia also made a pretty good sight. We trekked back down, stopping by, in lots of souvenir shops. We sat in the bus again around 5 something and found ourselves back on the Rustaveli Sq. Determined to finally explore the area- in spite of the wind.
We saw the Paliashvili Opera House, Freedom Monument, Art Gallery and more. St. Nicholas Church was by far, my favourite. There was an old man selling candles outside, and the inside was just beautiful. Full of people praying, lighting candles, just sitting on benches in solace and peace. It felt pea
There was an old man selling candles outside, and the inside was just beautiful. Full of people praying, lighting candles, just sitting on benches in solace and peace. It felt peaceful. I’d recently been full of conflicting emotions and thoughts, but in those 15 minutes or longer we were there, everything was calm.
Once outside, we took a cab to Peace Bridge (5 Lari). The Peace Bridge stands out in Tbilisi. Where everything in the city is a part of their history or has an essence of the history, this bridge stands like out with its modern design. It was already dark, so the bridge was lit up in pink and colours.
We walked back to the Meydan square where we bought some more souvenirs and ate at this little Georgian restaurant that had two live singers with a ukelele. More laughter ensued at dinner as we clearly didn’t understand our own order. See, I’m vegetarian and somewhat of a picky eater (I said somewhat!). So we ordered Khachapuri, something with Chicken for the other two, and a margarita pizza to be on the safe side. So, when khachapuri arrived, we assumed it’s their way of doing pizza. Yep. So, I called the nice server and asked him to cancel our khachapuri because the portions were really big. He looked startled and told us he can’t and ran into the kitchen. We were confused (see, I forget to say that the food was taking its sweet time in coming out!). He came out with this giant margarita pizza. We all felt extremely stupid, quietly ate as much as we could and wrapped up the rest.
We got to the hotel- silly and sound. Day 1 was an adventure. Some pictures below!