Georgia was a part of the erstwhile USSR till its disintegration in 1989. All through the 90s till the Rose revolution of 2003, Georgia was beset by civil unrest and war. Then came the war with Russia in 2008. American funding, President Sakaashvili's strict policing of Tbilisi and a period of peace since the Ossetian war in 2008 have all ensured that Tbilisi and Georgia are now back to being some of the best places to visit in the Caucasus. Infact, since the thawing of relations with Russia, the largest number of tourists visiting Georgia come from that country.
Is it Safe to travel to Tbilisi, Georgia?
I found Tbilisi to be an extremely friendly city and in all my late night sojourns I never once felt threatened. Like all big cities, Tbilisi does have its share of beggars and thieves, but if you take the necessary precautions, its as safe a city as any other.
Where to go in Tbilisi and Georgia?
Tbilisi is the capital city and alongwith Batumi, one of the most developed cities in all of Georgia. With a history dating back to the 5th century, this birthplace of wine and the first country top adopt Christianity as a state reigion has a wealth of places to see in its precincts. There are the museums, with the Puppet museum and the Ethnographical Open air museum being my favorites.
There are quite a few churches in and around Tbilisi, with the Sameba cathedral being the largest and grandest, Sioni church, Kashveti church on Rustaveli avenue being two other churches to visit. A short trip from Tbilisi and one can also visit the Jvari monastry and Mtskheta. Mtskheta is considered to be of interest to any traveler interested in Georgia's history or the history of Orthodox Christianity.
The Old Town of Tbilisi has recently gotten a good makeover and does look really beautiful. The Old Town of Tbilisi is probably one of those rare places which houses a church, a mosque and a jewish synagogue all next to each other. The rest of Tbilisi, with its part European and part Communist Russia look, is enchanting for any visitor.
The cave city of Vardzia is probably reason enough to justify a visit to Georgia. Built by the orders of the revered queen Tamar, the cave city was basically a monastry which like the Great wall of China was created for protection from the invading Mongols.
What to do in Tbilisi?
Tbilisi can be best used as the base location for your visits to the beautiful Georgian countryside. Well developed Tbilisi can help you get the local currency and a good car to traverse along the slopes of the Caucasus mountains. Walk along the pictursque bank of the Kura river, have a bottle of the famous Georgian wine sitting by its grassy slopes, look at all the beautiful buildings perched along the river in the Old Town of Tbilisi
Definitely do not miss out on eating the Khachapuri. Georgian food, in fact is a gourmet's delight and one of the best places to sample it will be at the restaurant "In the shadow of the Metekhi". Traditional Georgian dinners are a delight and can be a memorable affair.
Meet, talk to and enjoy with the gregarious people of this enchanting country.
Janit Vora is a Business Analyst by profession and a weekend blogger by passion. He blogs about Tbilisi, one of his favorite cities, as also his life in and travels to the different cities of the world at Urban Indian.