Mark Twain

Mark Twain

Friday, March 14, 2014


Tbilisi is set in a deep valley, along the Kura River, with mountains rising up around the city.  The Old City, where I am staying, is sandwiched in between the river and a mountain with the Narikala Fortress on top, built by the Persians in the 4th century.

Tbilisi has a lot of old buildings which have a lot of character but, it seems, are being left to decay.  The Old City has a lot of falling down old buildings, and cheap looking new buildings.  It's unfortunate.  There is a modern bridge called the Peace Bridge, which crosses the river from the Old City to a Rike Park on the other side, and it is hideous.   The part of the Old City close to the river has a bunch of newish concrete buildings which all look kind of the same.  Other parts of the city which I have seen (the area around Rustaveli Square, and Marjanishvili) have not suffered as badly.  One thing I have noticed pretty consistently is that when you get off of the busy main roads, the old buildings have not been destroyed, yet, but are often in a very bad state of repair.  I hope they start restoring them, with a more sympathetic approach.

The crumbling tenement where I am staying.

Outside my place.

Looking down the street from my place.

An old street sigh (Georgian and Cyrillic script).  The new ones replace Cyrillic with Latin script.

Old Town, where many of the buildings are not so old any more.

The area around Marjanishvili metro station.

Near Marjanishvili off of the main road.

The ugly bridge from the Old City across to Rike Park.
Above the entrance to Sioni Cathedral (Georgian Orthodox) in the Old City.  It looks really beautiful inside but they seem to always be having some service in there - so I feel weird going in.

In the Old City.

Near Rustaveli Square.

Near Rusaveli Square.

Cheese shop near Rustaveli Square.

Near Rustaveli Square.

Sidewalk vegetable sellers near Rustaveli Square.
Looking across the river at a church.

Yesterday I went up to the Narikala Fortress on a newish aerial tramway that goes from Rike Park, just across the river from the Old City (via the ugly bridge).

Just started the ascent.

Going up to the fortress.  The smoke was from a building on fire in the Old City.

Higher up.

The mountain backdrop of Tbilisi.

The fortress.

The fortress.

Kartlis Deda monument, built in 1958.

The fortress from ground level, looking across the river at it.

Last night I went to restaurant that has been there since the 19th century.  There was a table near me, with about six women who were very drunk already, drinking more toasts with vodka, and dancing.  I'm guessing that they were about three generations from the same family.  I get the impression that people here like to drink.  There are tons of little corner shops that mostly sell beer, wine, and liquor.  And, it's cheap to drink here, much more so than in Turkey.  A half liter of beer in a pub costs about 2.5 lari, which is less than US$2.

Getting around the city on public transportation is very cheap too.  Riding the Soviet built subway system costs half a lari, and all rides for the next 90 minutes after are free.  The stations are very deep, and the 1950s Soviet built escalators seem to hold up pretty well in comparison to DC's Metro escalators.

Exhibit in Rustaveli metro station

Rustaveli metro station

Marjanishvili metro station

Soviet excalators from 1958, still running.

And old Moskvitch.

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