Today didn’t disappoint! We woke up late and joined the Grand Tbilisi Tour organised by Hack Tours. I definitely recommend the tour to get a sense of the city and its history. However, in case you can’t be bothered travelling here, I’ll now recap for your convenience!
Our meeting place, Freedom Square, used to be called Lenin Square but was renamed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This is apparently the case for many ex-Soviet countries.
For some reason our brilliant tour guide Anya didn’t mention that this was also the scene of the 1907 Tiflis bank robbery – which a young Joseph Stalin organised to help fund the Communist party, taking in just over USD 3.86 million in today’s value. It could potentially be part of an effort to distance Stalin from his home place. But as I didn’t ask, I can’t be sure!
We were then herded around various churches and synagogues, and learnt about the harmony between the current 86% of the population who are Christian, and 10% who are Muslim. Apparently Georgia is the second-most religious country after Thailand! #learning
We then met this little fella – the toastmaster. Who, in Georgia, holds a special position as the master of ceremonies when everyone is getting tipsy. I liked him.
We then ducked into a traditional Georgian bakery to get what I’m sorry to say is an inferior Gregs cheese pasty.
Whilst munching, we visited another church (this place has a lot of churches), before heading over the Freedom Bridge. There are a few modern buildings in the city – all funded by two wealthy Georgians who hated each other’s style. The downside of this is that a spectacular building lies dormant near the centre of town – which you can see to the left of Sean here:
Architectural bug bears aside, we took a cable car up to Narikala Fortress. This city loves an unusual transport option!
The fortress was built in the 4th century and has housed many of the peoples that have conquered Georgia over the years. The Lonely Planet website lists it as the ‘Top Fort’ in Tbilisi but I think it may be the only one.
This is also the location of the Mother Georgia statue which is the featured image of this article. She is a bad ass! One hand holds a bowl of wine, for good visitors to Tbilisi. The other hand holds a sword in case you start to turn and she has to sort you out!
Upon exiting, Anya offered a sip of cha cha – which I believe is Georgia’s version of vodka. The one she was offered was 60%, and needless to say I didn’t have a second sip.
We meandered down through the back passage way to a small waterfall. This was probably my favourite part of the tour, as it takes you through an old part of the city filled with houses, and the public baths. It seems much more taken care of than other parts of Tbilisi.
And there you have it! Tbilisi in three hours. Xx