One of my favorite places is Georgia located in the deep south it has a very unique culture with strong Christian tradition. With the location it has been kind of a cross road for centuries which has led to a very special mix of cultures – it is always interesting to go here and try out the food.
It seems like Georgia has taken the best of all the traditional foods travelers has brought to the country and then turned it into something uniquely Georgian. Plus they do have something to accompany any meal you have – there is a very long tradition of wine production in Georgia – actually the history of wine production starts in Georgia where the first wines were produced around 6000 BC more than 2000 years before the first wine reach Sicily in south Italy and about 6000 years longer than the tradition of wine production in the famous areas in Burgundy and Bordeaux in France. Production of wine is still a national passion and there are a lot of different grape varieties which is native to Georgia and not found outside the country.
We like visiting the country with the mix of culture from the long tradition as a cross road. The silk road from Asia to Europe went through the Caucasus area bringing Asian goods and food to the area while the closer emperies which has been in the surrounding area has brought their tradition to the area as well. Georgia has been located right next to Persia which frequently has tried to conquer Georgia and sometimes managed to take at least part of the country. In the south the Arabs were ruling while previously the Roman Empire reaches the area of Georgia. During the latter part of the roman times the safe passage to Jerusalem meant Christianity reach Caucasus and Armenia and Georgia was the two first kingdoms to make Christianity the official religion. Despite the later rise of Islam in the countries around Armenia and Georgia both countries have remained Christian with their old tradition and churches spread across the countries.
Getting to and from Georgia for some reason always seems to involve a strange flight connection. It seems like all the flights from Europe arrives during the night and leave before sunrise. Our flight is no exception from this general rule we get to Tbilisi airport at 4 in the morning or at night or whatever 4 o’clock is actually called. We get our backs and then have a bite to eat before we try to catch the early bus to the center in the morning from the airport.
After a bit of a drive we arrive at the center. It is nice to be back at in central Tbilisi which has an attractive old town down at the river. We get out and walks pass the famous Meteki Church and walk across the river on a small bridge until we reach the central part of the old town. From here we just have to find our small hotel. We get there it is just behind the Sioni Church which is the main church in the old town on this side of the river. Unfortunately we can’t get into the room straight away but the receptionist offer a cup of coffee and a bite to eat if we want it.
After the coffee it is time to go out and have a little look at the familiar streets of the old town. It is nice to wonder by the old houses in the town and see the old churches. The churches of Georgia have their own style which is different from the churches in Armenia and other churches I have seen around the world.
One nice place in the old town is actually the very modern Peace Bridge which is a pedestrian bridge connecting the two sides of Tbilisi. It is usually pretty busy on the bridge but on this time of the day there are very few people on the bridge so we can actually see the structure of the bridge without it being blocked by hundreds of people.
We continue along the river for some reason we have never walked much along the river – I guess we just prefer the small main street in the old town. A bit further down the river front is the local casino which might actually be open for business in the morning but we are not in a gambling mood so just walk pass the casino until we reach another big modern building down at the waterfront. I am not sure what it actually is but it is dominating this section of the river.
We reach a park where they are setting up for the local flee market in the morning. One thing which happened in this part of the world when Gorbatjov tried to reform the economy was a significant increase in inequality with many older people having limited income. I guess this problem has continued till this day so many people have to sell some of their belongings to get by. There is a bit of different stuff at the shops but not much which looks really interesting this early in the morning.
We walk through the parks until we reach the main boulevard of the newer part of the city. We walk along the street with a few modern big buildings including a few museums. The boulevard ends at the main square of the city called Freedom Square. It is a big impressive square with some nice modern buildings along the square including the biggest hotel and an Avis rental agency – which it is nice to locate so we can get there easily in a couple of days.
We try to go back to the hotel – fortunately we can get into the room and get a bit of a morning snooze before we go out and explore the city a bit more.