Continued from the last post, “Are we there yet?”…
Once we had settled and found dinner Sunday night, we finally got in touch with George and realized there had been a miscommunication about the time we were arriving in Tbilisi. We decided to stay the night at the hostel, mostly since we had already paid, and we moved into our apartment the next morning after getting brunch.
Brunch was good, and surprisingly Western. But we were only allowed to have one ingredient in our omelettes… I’m still unclear about why. We felt good after a large meal and finally set out to explore the city in the early afternoon.
We walked into the city from our Air Bnb apartment, which is right on the river, walked up to Freedom Square, then wound through the neighborhoods to make our way up to Narikala Fortress. I don’t know how to describe Tbilisi. It’s such a beautiful city, blending so many styles that it’s hard to decide what you’re really looking at. You can see the European influence, the leftovers from the Soviet era, and a few very modern works of art like the Bridge of Peace or the mushroom building… I mean the Public Service Hall…
Wandering through the neighborhoods, we also found several buildings that were completely falling apart. Rather, they had already fallen apart and were somehow still standing. There were so many abandoned buildings. Some were just deteriorating houses, others were giant complexes that had just been left there. We also stumbled upon beautiful parks and gardens, and awesome little sculptures all over the city.
We stopped for a snack and a cold drink somewhere along the way. J & I both got salads. Mine came with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, a delicious dressing and crushed walnuts on top. It was perfect. I’ve been eating a lot of tomatoes here… and walnuts. Walnuts are a big thing here. E got the most amazing thing I’ve ever tasted. Fried eggplant wrapped around a walnut & cheese mix. It was heavenly. Be careful though, we tried to order stuffed eggplants somewhere else and it was completely different and way too heavy.
After our snack, we continued up the hill trying to make our way to the fortress. We got lost a few times, but in getting lost we found a beautiful little church that had a fantastic view of the city. We asked a few people for directions–nobody spoke much English, but my tactic is to just say one or two words and shrug, looking lost and helpless. For example, “Narikala?” *shrug and smile*
Through the assistance of two kind strangers, we found our way to the road leading up to Narikala. Sorry, that would be the very steep road up to Narikala.
I don’t know what it is about castles and old abandoned places, but I transform into an excited child at Disneyland when I find one, even in 90+ degree weather. First, I ran out to an overlook in the back. It was some kind of tower, but there wasn’t much wall left. All I could think was this would NEVER happen in the U.S. There are no rules listed anywhere about climbing and safety. I was standing on top of a tower overlooking a certain-death drop with no fence, no rail, no warning, absolutely nothing. I had to kneel down to look out over the edge because it was so easy to throw myself off.
But hey, it meant I could climb on anything and everything I wanted to! Don’t worry, I was safe about it. The little parkour voice in my head was constantly going off, “Check your surfaces!”
After our adventure at the fortress, we took the funicular down the hill, over the Bridge of Peace, and arrived at Europe Square which is a super cool park. Lots of space, modern sculptures and benches, and a beautiful fountain that turns colors at night. We explored the park for a bit, then walked up another hill (why are there so many hills?) to Kopala restaurant where we watched the sunset from the terrace.