georgian

Video: Georgia

Mark thumbnail sml.jpg
 

Like Europe but not Europe, Georgia sits neatly in the Caucasus between Russia and the Middle East. The perfect blend of east-meets-west and all the better for it. Fantastic weather, stunning landscapes, cheap to travel in and the nicest people you'll meet anywhere.

We absolutely loved our two weeks in Georgia because we managed to do so much. The capital Tbilisi is a fantastic place to start; culture, bars, parks and travel routes all across the country. Talking of country, make sure you get up to Kazbegi for some unreal mountains just hours outside of the capital. The city of love, Mediterranean beaches (well the Black Sea), Svaneti; there's just too much to do. 

Get yourselves over to Georgia. Fast. Our flights home were just £38 each!

Here's a video we made of our two week adventure in Georgia....

 

Friends...

All of the articles on our website are free but if you can support us by viewing, sharing or even purchasing from our travel-inspired shop, you'd make our day! Every share, like or sale gets us closer to our dream.....you guys rock.

You might also enjoy...

Lifestyle: I Left My Boots In Georgia

A piece about walking, lifestyle changes and life at home.

Mark thumbnail sml.jpg
 

Those Boots Are Made For Walking 

When we started a travel blog in 2017, never did I think I’d write a piece about my 7 year old walking boots! Arriving back home in London I started thinking about what I missed most about our ten months of travel and my conclusion was my walking boots. It’s not that I miss the actual specifics of the so-old-they’re-flapping-open North Face’s, but the therapeutic qualities of strapping them on and embarking on a days excursion with Ali. The boots seem to symbolise freedom, change and health, with every day of travel building on the last. Walking, standing and sometimes running was the action that embodied our daily transitions, so when we decided to walk as often as we could, our journeys became and felt more physical.  I miss the simplicity of being on my feet all day.

 

Flow

There’s a lot to be said for the process of preparing for a long walk; slipping on some thick socks, lacing up, preparing for changing weather, packing food and water and setting off into the unknown. The act of walking is a therapeutic one and I always feel better after a walk than before. It’s most special when you find that perfect balance, your flow. There’s always a point in a walk where it becomes sub-conscious. Your mind is clear of the day-to-day humdrum, conversation gushes and your appreciation for what's around you becomes heightened. After a year of hiking around the globe, walking is truly the best therapy I’ve felt, a perfect combination of fitness and mindfulness, all for free. For the folks that enjoy a long hike, you’ll know the sweet-spot where you find the ‘flow’. The perfect state where the mind is freed of stresses and it’s just your company, nature and the rhythm of each step forward that matters.

Jordan 22.jpg

 

Opening Eyes

Developing a passion for walking has also helped foster a fascination with nature. I used to just see trees, fields and lakes, and now I spot the details and get excited about the little features of the walk. Once I saw a bird fishing, now I notice a heron skilfully preying. Perhaps it’s age, but spending time in nature deals me healing properties and the older I get the more time I need to spend outdoors, this very article has been put together in Hackney Downs park.  It’s as if we spend our formative years experimenting with the world to see what we love about it. Reflecting back, I can see I was far more interested in vaguely hollow pleasures like technology, clubbing and cinema; all great things but also indoor pursuits. Finding a passion for the great outdoors grew from experiencing incredible landscapes in places like Norway, Mongolia and China, as well as spotting the unearthly fauna like vultures, elephants and camouflaging lizards in the wild. The world is much more exciting when you’re eyes are open to it.

A camoflaged rare lizard in Sri Lanka

A camoflaged rare lizard in Sri Lanka

 

Green Grass

Walking in other countries has definitely made me appreciate the UK’s natural wonders. We were invited up to the Lake District by Ali’s family a few weeks after we got home and were totally blown away by the Lakes and mountains around Keswick. It taught me it’s far too easy to under-appreciate our own countries natural wonders, naively, assuming that the grass is always greener. The UK’s open fields are some of the greenest I’ve ever seen and it’s mountains are decent too. We loved it so much we booked our summer holiday back to the very same place, lucky Keswick! 

UK 9 lake district.jpg

 

Back In London

Having just mentioned how green everything is, the U.K. is actually enjoying and sweltering in the longest and strongest heatwave since the 1970s and grass isn’t so green right now. It’s been the perfect time to get outside in the evenings when it’s cooler, so we’ve been enjoying strolls on the Hackney Marshes in East London and pondering what we could do next now that we are home. We’ve clearly been missing the simpler travel life so are having little adventures like cycling instead of bussing, even when the cycle is a two hour off-road route from Salisbury to a wedding we went to! We’ve been busy making Studio Mali into a business and using Airbnb help with bills whilst Ali gets her products into the world. But from time to time I can’t help my mind wondering back to those long walks in nature.

Ali has been busy developing her new Ebony Necklace inspired by our travels!

Ali has been busy developing her new Ebony Necklace inspired by our travels!

 

22 Days Straight

The pinnacle of our walking lives was the epic 22 day trek around the Annapurna mountains in Nepal. High altitude, snow, rain, flu and food poisoning all had be to contended with but through the challenges came satisfaction and fulfilment, and ultimately, walking in Nepal was my biggest highlight of the trip. There was something very primeval about filling up on porridge, packing up and setting off along the apple pie route, named after the apple orchards that grow so plentifully around the ring of the mountains. Even when we hit the high altitudes of the Thorong-La Pass at 5,400km I enjoyed looking down to spot my wooly socks peeping out the side of my walking boots. It was careless to attempt such a challenging trek with substandard kit but I wanted to finish the trip with the same boots, I was compelled too. The boots survived, and so did I, and in a moment of ceremony on our last day I left the 7 year old boots on a bridge in Tbilisi, Georgia. Hopefully they might bring somebody some pleasure, they certainly did for me.

Goodbye old friends 

Goodbye old friends 

 

What did I learn from this close relationship to my walking boots? (I never thought i’d say those words together) ….Appreciate what you have and really consider when you need something and when you want something. Distinguishing between those two points has been very important since roaming the streets of the oh-so-commerical London again where everyone is grappling for your earnings. If you can teach yourself to be happy with what you have then living a simpler, lower cost, life is entirely possible even in an expensive place like the U.K. Be happy with what you have and, like walking is for me, find that thing gives you pleasure and do it everyday. 

 

Friends...

All of the articles on our website are free but if you can support us by viewing, sharing or even purchasing from our travel-inspired shop, you'd make our day! Every share, like or sale gets us closer to our dream.....you guys rock.

Why Not Pin It?

(finders keepers)

 
Lifestyle - I left My Boots In Georgia, By Studio Mali-21.jpg
 

You Might Also Be Interested In Reading...

Georgia: 15 Things To Do In Tbilisi 

Ali thumbnail sml.jpg
 

Wow Tbilisi... you have it all.  From world class techno clubs to leafy botanical gardens, this is a city of many contrasts and one that should be on the top of your 'to visit' list.  Traditional Georgian architecture and soviet tower blocks sprawl the hillsides, making way for all things new.  The youths are fighting for progression, for a more liberal capital where openness and freedom are the norm, through a developing arts scene and growing club culture.  It's an exciting time to be in Tbilisi, perhaps it's the new Berlin.  

Tbilisi, Georgia

Located in the Caucasus in eastern Europe, Tbilisi is a melting pot of cultures with it's neighbours being Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan.  It is a city of Christian heritage and religious traditions, and yet it's as modern as any other European capital with cafe culture and consumerism at the heart of it.  With melt in your mouth cheese breads (khachapuri) being sold on every street corner and a pint of beer for as little as 40p, we can't think of anywhere better to spend a few days.  If you are into food, nightlife, culture, parks, museums and the arts, then take a look at our recommendations of things to do in Tbilisi......

 

Have A Rummage At Dry Bridge Market

Normally markets are packed with new cheap merchandise that’s probably going to fall apart by the time you take it home, but that’s not the case at the dry bridge flea market.  Every day locals neatly lay out their second hand knick-knacks on rickety tables, rugs on the ground and even on car bonnets, in the hope that a passer by is going to buy that random item they didn’t even know they were looking for.  You can find all sorts of vintage things here from chandeliers to old music boxes, and soviet memorabilia to woodworkers tools.  It’s not just what’s on sale that’s interesting here, most of the sellers are as old as the products they are flogging and it’s nice to see them going about their daily business, reading the newspaper and eating salami sandwiches as they sit by their stalls.  There is a nice open section on the river bank to the west of the bridge which specialises in original artworks by local artists.  The market can be found on dry bridge (and the streets around it) and is better on weekends.  It’s free to visit and nothing is priced so haggle down.

Second-hand wares for sale at Dry Bridge Market

Second-hand wares for sale at Dry Bridge Market

 

Admire Modern Architecture At Peace Bridge

This sleek bridge is one of the most striking structures in Tbilisi, as it elegantly floats over the Mtkvari river.  Pedestrians are invited to cross Peace Bridge by foot and experience the beautiful curving steel and glass structure, which appears to flow overhead like a wave from low to high, and low again.  It was designed in 2010 by Italian architect Michele De Lucchi and adds to a growing number of modern buildings in the historic capital.  The linear structure resembles a 3D perspective drawing and it’s perfect symmetry makes for a great photo.  You can also get a great side view from the bridge to the south of it.  The Bridge of Peace is free to experience and is open at all hours of the day, at nighttime it is illuminated.

Modernist Peace Bridge

Modernist Peace Bridge

 

Learn About History At The Museum Of Georgia

Set over 4 floors, this national history museum holds some of the finest examples of ancient Georgian jewellery in the country, dating as far back as 3rd millennium BC.  You can expect to see exquisite works of medieval gold and silver, precious stones, coins and ornaments.  The top floor of the museum is dedicated to explaining Georgia’s troubled history of Soviet rule and Russia’s persistent interference and invasion.  One of our favourite exhibits though was on the evolution of mankind, demonstrating the differences in groups of hominin (early humans) from as far back as 1.7 million years ago.  On display is the oldest skull in existence found in Eurasia, and 3D replicas of skulls showing the timeline of physical developments between the groups of people.  The exhibition is really well put together and helpfully explains the differences and developments between the hominin, for example what type of food they would have been eating at the time, and how society might have been structured.  Entry to the museum is a reasonable 5 gel (£1.50), and is open daily from 10am-6pm except on Mondays.

The Museum Of Georgia

The Museum Of Georgia

 

Escape To The Luscious Botanical Gardens 

We can’t think of many city gardens as beautiful and unique as this one.  Set on the foothills of the Sololaki mountain range, these botanical gardens boast an impressive view of the city below and the ancient Narikala Fortress that stands guard of it.  It’s easy to spend a few hours there, wondering the winding roads and woodland paths, soaking up the fresh air and exploring the natural environment.  The gardens are sectioned, taking the visitor on a journey of world plants through to high waterfalls.  There are lots of places to relax and spend a few hours reading in, or if you are a keen walker then the gardens go back as far as 1km up the steep mountainside.  Make sure you take some of the small paths through the woodlands for the most authentic experience, as the roads can sometimes have cars on them.  This is the perfect place to bring a picnic, or just escape from the hustle and bustle of city life for a few hours.  The gardens are open daily from 9am-6pm and is only 1 gel (30p) entrance fee. 

Exploring the botanical gardens

Exploring the botanical gardens

 

Eat With The Locals In Racha’s Basement 

If you are looking for an authentic Georgian dining experience then look no further than the unassuming Racha.  Located only a block away from Freedom Square, this rough and ready basement eatery serves traditional Georgian cuisine at some of the cheapest prices in town.  It looks as though nothing has changed here in the last 30 years; the carpets are worn, the decor is definitely no-thrills, and the staff couldn’t care less whether you were in there or not (actually once we got turned away because they were so ‘busy’).  But that all adds to it’s charm.  The stern faced waitresses almost make us want to laugh as we a trying to place our order, apparently you aren’t allowed to order only 2 dumplings!  Some of the local favourite dishes include Khinkali which are spicy dumplings at 0.7 gel (20p) each (minimal of 5 can be ordered), mtsvadi which are shish kebabs (7 gel / £2.10), and badrijani nigvzit (aubergine with walnut salad) which we didn’t get to try.  The highlight however was the Georgian staple khachapuri, the deliciously gooey cheese bread that melts in your mouth (7 gel / £2.10).  We could eat that bread all day long!  Racha is open 9am-10.30pm daily, and dishes start at 4 gel (£1.20).  The menu has been translated into English so you shouldn’t have any problems ordering.

Khachapuri - Georgian cheese bread in Racha

Khachapuri - Georgian cheese bread in Racha

 

Relax In Contemporary Green-Space

At the foot of the Bridge of Peace lies Tbilisi’s most modern gardens, Rike Park.  This newly built public space is the perfect hangout by the Mtkvari river, offering visitors relaxing places to nestle amongst well-pruned flower beds and willow trees.  The gardens are architecturally landscaped and feature some very considered foliage, no blade of grass is out of place.  The benches are made from blocks of cast concrete formed into white geometric shapes which really adds to the modernist feel, and two huge futuristic silver tubes sitting at the north end are yet-to-open buildings.  Wonderers can enjoy the many water features that scatter the park along with a couple of open-air cafes and bars.  This is a really nice to place to hang out on a sunny day, and if you’re lucky you may get to enjoy an outdoor concert in one of the entertainment areas.  The park is free to enter and is open all times of day and night.

Rike Park

Rike Park

 

Munch On A Pipes Burger

Founded by graduates of Tbilisi’s culinary academy, Pipes is an industrial-style diner joint not to be missed.  They specialise in burgers of course... big, fat, soft, juicy burgers, packed with flavour and melt-in-your-mouth meat.  I would say that these are as good as some of London’s best burgers, but still not quite as tasty as our local favourite Stokey Bears (you just can’t beat that sweet bacon jam).  We opted for a cheeseburger which was all the usuals... marinated onions, cheddar cheese, tomato, lettuce, bacon, gherkins and spicy homemade mayo, and of course a big beef pattie sandwiched in the middle, cooked medium rare.  It is a really naughty treat but so delicious, and two days later Mark was planning his next trip.  Each burger comes with fries, so even though the burgers seem a bit pricy, it pretty much works out the same as any other dinner we’d had in Tbilisi.  A cheeseburger and fries costs 13.90 gel (£4.20) and then service is added.  Pipes is open daily from 11am-11pm.

Pipes burger

Pipes burger

 

Take A Trip To The Museum of Modern Art 

Zurab Tsereteli, one of Georgia’s most successful living artists and sculptors, set up a privately owned gallery in the heart of Tbilisi.  The space is beautifully light and airy (as you can imagine for a modern art gallery), and the works are set over three spacious floors.  Two of them are dedicated to displaying the life-long work of the artist himself, these are colourful paintings which he created of people in the lower classes, aiming to capture their unique character and mood over huge canvases.  The painting are contrasted with oversized metal sculptures of figures, which Tsereteli seems to be most recognised for.  On the ground floor, there is a temporary exhibition which presents works from either Georgian or international contemporary artists.  Swiss artist Therese Weber was showing when we visited, her artworks constructed mostly from paper pulp in an abstract way.  Overall the gallery is a bit of a one man show, but for entry as little as 2 gel (60p), it’s worth looking at some of the artworks of one of Georgia’s most famous artists.  

The Museum Of Modern Art

The Museum Of Modern Art

 

Drink With The Cool Kids

Take a walk up Giorgi Akhvlediani St and you will soon find out where the hipsters hang out.  Here you can find all kinds of trendy bar, converted old mans pubs, fancy barbers and of course Tbilisi’s first gay club, Success Bar.  The area has got a really nice feel to it, a bit of an east London vibe and so we feel right at home having a pint in one of the pubs (you can take the brit out of England, but they will always end up in a pub!).  It feels as though there is a scene developing here, in recent years nightlife has been booming due to the opening of Berlin-style clubs such as Bassiani, Khidi, Mtkvarze and Vitamin Cubes, and this area seems like the perfect place for a warm up drink.  A pint of beer in this area costs around 3 gel (90p), about 1 gel (30p) more expensive than the cheapest drinking holes in Tbilisi.  If you are into socialising with the locals then this is a much more interesting area to visit than the tourist bars in the centre of town.

Relaxing in a local pub

Relaxing in a local pub

 

Eat Khachapuri Until You Can Eat It No More

You can’t come to Tbilisi (or any of Georgia for that matter) without eating the delicious Khachapuri at least once a day, or maybe even twice.  It is one of Georgia’s most popular national dishes and it’s easy to see why it’s loved by so many.  Nearly every third shop sells the stuff, this naughty naughty tasty delight.  For those of you who don’t know, Khachapuri is Georgian cheese bread, a bit like a round pizza with a gooey cheese centre.  There are many different types of this bread, some with open tops, different types of cheese, and some even with egg, all originating from different parts of the country.  This bread is so important to the Georgian economy that the price of making it has even been used to measure inflation.  The ones sold on the street vary in quality, size, warmness, and of course taste but for about 1.5-3 gel (45p-90p) a piece you really can’t complain.  If your budget allows, then it’s best to order one in a restaurant or tavern where you get served a plate full of the stuff, the dough is fresh, the cheese is plentiful and all you have to worry about is the crazy cheesy dreams at bedtime.  If you are going to eat anything on your trip then let it be Khachapuri.

Mmmm.... khachapuri!

Mmmm.... khachapuri!

 

Explore Old Wooden Georgian Houses

The Open-Air Museum of Ethnography up on the woody hillsides of Tbilisi is a wonderful place to spend the afternoon.  This museum displays a unique collection of traditional Georgian folk houses which have been carefully preserved from different regions of the country.  The dwellings are scattered across 50 hectares of green-space and visitors are invited to walk freely around the site, exploring the architecture and reconstructed gardens.  You can go inside some of the houses and several have been decked out with traditional craftwork such as wooden carved furniture, patterned rugs, cooking utensils and drawings, to give you a taste of old Georgian life.  The views over the city are very impressive and the setting is a welcoming escape from the busy car-filled streets below.  If you are walking here, then made sure you go through Vake Park (a soviet style monument/gardens) on your way up.  Entry is a mere 3 gel (90p), and the museum is open 10am-6pm in summer time, every day except on Mondays.

Open-Air Museum Of Ethnography

Open-Air Museum Of Ethnography

 

Enjoy Panoramic Views At Rachasubani

This delightful Georgian restaurant sits on the green hillsides above the Open-Air Museum of Ethnography, offering panoramic views of the city and leafy landscape below.  Diners can enjoy a relaxed lunch on woody terraces of the 150 year old building, assisted by helpful and friendly staff members.  We were eating on the cheap so only had an imeretian khachapuri (cheese bread) at 8.5 gel (£2.55), and cucumber tomato and walnut salad at 7.9 gel (£2.37) to share, but if you have the budget to splash out then there are all sorts of delicious sounding meat dishes, cheese assortments, vege clay pots and bottles of wine starting at 16 gel (£4.80) each.  This is honestly one of the most beautiful places we have dined at in Georgia and if you make the effort to visit then you won’t be disappointed by the views on a sunny day.  This is the perfect stop off for lunch if you are visiting the Open-Air Museum of Ethnography nearby.  Rachasubani is open 10am-11pm daily.

Amazing views at Rachasubani

Amazing views at Rachasubani

 

Say Hey To The Mother of Georgia

Standing 20 meters tall on top of Sololaki hill is Kartlis Deda, also know as Mother of Georgia. This aluminium monument represents the Georgian national figure watching over Tbilisi, with a bowl of wine in one hand to greet friends, and a sword in the other to protect from foes.  The walk up Sololaki hill is a pleasant one, passing the impressive Narikala Fortress on the way and having spectacular views over the city below.  If you don’t feel like walking (although it’s really not that far), you can get the cable car up to the Kartlis Deda viewpoint or take a taxi up the road.  The Mother of Georgia monument is free to visit and is open at all times of day or night.  To get the best picture though, you may want to be at city level!

 
Mother Of Georgia

Mother Of Georgia

 

 

Appreciate Soviet Classism At Vake Park

This enormous park is a great place to play some sport, go for a walk in the woodlands, or even just relax by the fountains.  This is the biggest park in Tbilisi and is a fine example of Soviet Classism, just check out the grand oversized staircase and fountains that lead up to the People’s Monument.  The view from the top of the hill looking the park is very impressive, the fountains and stone platforms make for a wonderfully symmetrical photo, with the river and city in the background.  We spent almost an hour there, watching the water fall from the fountains in a bit of a trance, with the odd child running through trying not to get soaking wet.  The park is free to enter at all times of day and night, and is a nice escape from bustling city life.

Vake Park

Vake Park

 

Lose Yourself To Techno

Tbilisi’s techno scene is booming right now, and underground basement club Bassiani has already made a name for itself as the Berghain of Georgia.  People flock from all over Europe to visit this dance haven, and we have heard tales of the crowd losing themselves to beat-less tunes, kneeling on the dance floor with hands in the air.  As with many of Berlin’s megaclubs, Georgia’s Bassiani is notoriously difficult to get into, and clubbers are put to the scrutiny of ‘the eyes’ behind the cctv on the door.  There is no pattern to who gets in and who does not, if they think you will add value to the night then you are let in and if not then you will be taking your sorry self elsewhere.  Other worthy techno clubs include Mtskheta (we had a fun night there), Khidi and Vitamin Cubes.  Entry to Bassiani is between 20-40 gel / £6-12 (you can book in advance online) and drinks are expensive when you're in there, whereas entry was free to Mtskheta when we visited on a Friday night and a beer was 5 gel (£1.50).  Things don’t get going until around 2am and the clubs open until about 11am the next morning, so remember to pace yourselves!

 

We hope you enjoy our suggestions of things to do in Tbilisi, just let us know if there is anything else we can help you with in the comments box below....

 

Friends...

All of the articles on our website are free but if you can support us by viewing, sharing or even purchasing from our travel-inspired shop, you'd make our day! Every share, like or sale gets us closer to our dream.....you guys rock.

Pin It!

(So you can find it again later)

 
Georgia - 15 Things To Do In Tbilisi, by Studio Mali
 

 

You might also like.....