What’s up with Tbilisi, Georgia? LOVE IS.

Women at a newspaper stand in Tbilisi, Georgia

Surprise! I moved to Georgia.

(The country, not the state.)

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta, Georgia

To say this was sudden is an understatement. When I decided to shuffle my plans around to attend WTM in London this November, an extra month opened up in my schedule. I wanted to use the time to go somewhere and sit still – rent an apartment, get a metro card, have a kitchen – and just work.

There’s a lot of prep to be done before the convention.

Two men in an old Soviet car at a flea market in Tbilisi, Georgia

As I was in Turkey visiting a friend when I made this decision, I first though about staying in Istanbul or going to Olympos to chill out and write. Then, her roommate said, ‘Why not Tbilisi? It’s cheap and it’s nearby.’

Strangely enough, I’d always wanted to visit Georgia. I remember seeing the alphabet once when I was younger and being completely baffled and intrigued. So, within the course of an hour, I rebooked my plans for Bangkok, organised my flights to London, and bought my ticket to Tbilisi.

Life is funny sometimes.

Young women dancing at a festival in Mtskheta, Georgia

Through an absolutely amazing stroke of luck (or fate?!), I was able to find a room before I even arrived in an apartment with three other female expats – one teacher and two masters students. We live in the midst of a massive city bazaar, and just down our street there are vendors selling fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese, bread, house wares, clothing, appliances and – most curiously – religious icons.

A fruit vendor at a market in Tbilisi, Georgia

Vintage Soviet car and street art in Tbilisi, Georgia

My thoughts on Tbilisi so far?

I am dumbstruck in love with it.

Decaying building in Tbilisi, Georgia

Secret garden and grape vines in Tbilisi, Georgia

Street in Tbilisi, Georgia

How can I even describe why? Maybe it’s the look of the city – beautiful, ornate buildings crumbling in the old town, towering blocky church towers, secret courtyard gardens and grape vines hanging off every house.

Friends in Tbilisi, Georgia

A young girl in Liberty Square, Tbilisi, Georgia

Maybe it’s the friendliness of the people I’ve met – the family who spent 15 minutes bartering with taxi drivers on my behalf at the airport, the monk who blessed me in the metro station and enlisted passers-by to translate so we could talk, the women in the market who break into smiles when I attempt Georgian, or even my adorable new roommates.

Bar Laboratorium in Tbilisi, Georgia

Surprise street art in Tbilisi, Georgia

Book Corner cafe in Tbilisi, Georgia
A rainbow courtyard at the Book Corner Cafe…and an ingenious use of umbrellas!

in Tbilisi
Maybe it’s the bohemian vibe of the city, the hidden cafes to spend afternoons writing in, the dark-haired hipsters walking down Rustaveli, or the street-art you stumble upon when you least expect it.

Fruits from the Caucasus Badrijiani nigvzit and Georgian cuisine

Tsiteli Lobio in a pot and Georgian cuisine Georgian tone bread with cucumbers, tomatoes and cheese

Maybe it’s the food, the cheesey-bready-eggy-gooey khachapuri on every street corner, the little hole-in-the-wall restaurants that serve up dinners of eggplants with walnuts and spiced bean soup, or all the different perplexing Caucasian fruit for sale in the bazaar.

Monk in Station Square metro station, Tbilisi, Georgia Orthodox icons in Tbilisi, Georgia

Donation box in Marjanishvili Station, Tbilisi, Georgia

Church candles for sale in Tbilisi, Georgia

Maybe it’s the presence of Georgian Orthodoxy – so foreign and arresting – in people that cross themselves when they pass a church, vendors selling candles and icons and incense on the sidewalk, donation boxes for monasteries and churches in the supermarkets, or priests and monks hanging around, all dressed in black.

Street scene in Tbilisi, Georgia

Georgian script on an ad in the metro, Tbilisi, Georgia

Georgian alphabet ad in Tbilisi, Georgia Georgian menu outside of a restaurant in Tbilisi, Georgia

Maybe it’s that alien script everywhere you look.

Street art graffiti in Tbilisi, Georgia

Courtyard in Tbilisi, Georgia

But maybe – no, definitelyit’s the fact that Tbilisi feels like a secret.

This city is so beautiful, so perplexing, so inviting, so intriguing and so thrilling, just like any other European capital like Paris, Berlin or Rome, and yet there are almost no tourists.

Not many people seem to visit Tbilisi. The only other foreigners I’ve met are exchange students doing Russian studies, English language teachers, Peace Corps volunteers, and the rare adventure traveller.

There are no foreigners in fanny packs walking down the main avenue. No tour groups.

Sameba Cathedral in Tbilisi, Georgia

Cafe in Tbilisi, Georgia

But why don’t they come? Tbilisi has blown me away so far, and I’m torn between wanting to tell absolutely everyone how absolutely amazing it is, and shutting my mouth to keep it a secret forever. Funny how that happens.

When I first announced my move, I got messages from a lot of people all expressing the same sentiment. They all asked why I’d chosen Tbilisi (as to be expected) but – strangely – all of them were also crazy excited for me.

I think, for many of us, the name ‘Tbilisi’ sounds so strange, so far-flung and unknown, that it can’t help but ignite curiousity.

Church at night, Tbilisi, Georgia

Tbilisi, Georgia at night

I’m happy to say, they had a reason to be excited. Tbilisi is absolutely stunning, unbelievably invigorating, and its crumbling bohemian vibe reminds me so heart-achingly of Berlin, my favourite city in the world.

Hills and river in Mtskheta, Georgia

Young woman in a headscarf in Tbilisi, Georgia

Street in the Old Town, Tbilisi, Georgia

To every traveller, every nomad and every curious soul, I have a message:

Come to Georgia. Come to Tbilisi. Come visit, and come soon.

Cable cars and Kartlis Deda Mother Georgia statue at dusk in Tbilisi, Georgia

I have a feeling you’ll like it.

,

150 Responses to What’s up with Tbilisi, Georgia? LOVE IS.

  1. Flora 22 October, 2012 at 04:29 #

    This is such a great post Naomi! You’ve painted an awesome picture of a place a lot of people probably don’t consider when heading in the Eastern Europe direction :) Another place to add to the list I think!

    • na-o-mi 22 October, 2012 at 14:49 #

      Thank you darlin’! I agree, not many people consider this region…and yet it’s completely magic!!

      • Anastasia 20 August, 2013 at 16:59 #

        Thank you Na-o-mi for such a great description :)
        I’m from Georgia, Tbilisi.
        I was always proud of my country but reading this made me believe once more that my feelings are objective :)
        Unfortunately i’m living abroad, if I was in Georgia I would love to host you with your friends and introduce whole Georgia (not only Tbilisi, there are many other beautiful regions to go like Sighnaghi, Mestia, Kazgebi, Racha, etc …) Highly appreciate your kindness!

      • Charlotte 21 August, 2013 at 20:46 #

        Aww, I almost cried )) meet you somewhere in Laboratorium or Mulin and drink one glass of wine withya <3

        • Naomi Alyssa 3 September, 2013 at 12:01 #

          Aw matloba Charlotte! Wish I were still there to do so…….!!!

    • Justin 16 August, 2013 at 01:00 #

      Some places will stay wonderful cant wait to visit again

  2. kay* 22 October, 2012 at 06:15 #

    Wow. What a fantastic post! I must admit, I don’t know anything about Georgia but the picture you’ve drawn with your words makes me want to visit it ASAP. Going onto my “must-visit” list! Thank you for sharing.

    • na-o-mi 22 October, 2012 at 14:50 #

      YES! So stoked to hear you put it on your list. It’s amazing :)

  3. Bassanio broke 22 October, 2012 at 08:31 #

    That bread in one photo should be very delicious, (similar to pita).Great post, a different kind of architecture for thirsty eyes. Tc

    • na-o-mi 22 October, 2012 at 14:51 #

      It’s so delicious – tastes a bit like sourdough, but is baked on the side of a massive clay oven like naan. I buy it from a guy just outside the door to my building, and am definitely peeking down there one of these days to get a picture of that oven in action!

    • Deborah Dunn 13 October, 2013 at 12:34 #

      that bread in the picture is nothing like pita . This light , butter dough is filled with a mild , slightly salty cheese…..each bit melts in your mouth…..I love Tbilisi so much I am returning in Jan and will stay and volunteer until The end of June.

  4. Eunsuk Kim 22 October, 2012 at 13:45 #

    hey lady!!! You must have a great time there!!! Soooooooo envious of you!
    Whenever I visit your blog, it makes me smile and feel good!! Good job lady!!! :)

    • na-o-mi 22 October, 2012 at 14:51 #

      Awwwwww…thank you lady!! That makes ME smile!! xx

  5. Kerry @ Frugal City Girl 22 October, 2012 at 19:52 #

    Tblisi sounds amazing! I’ve been meaning to save up and travel (I know, me and everyone else in the world…), and you’ve made it sound so romantic and beautiful. I hope it’s able to keep its identity if more tourists start visiting!

    • na-o-mi 23 October, 2012 at 15:00 #

      The best part? You can get by on 15$ a day. Fifteen!! ;)

  6. Jennifer 22 October, 2012 at 19:53 #

    Great post, Naomi! My friend Katie spent quite a bit of time in Tbilisi and that’s when it first got on my radar. Can’t wait to read more and hear about what you recommend seeing there.

    • na-o-mi 23 October, 2012 at 15:06 #

      I’ll try and post my best tips ;)

  7. Larissa 22 October, 2012 at 23:46 #

    I’ve been wanting to go for so long! Probably won’t get there in the next month but when I finally do, will be asking you for advice. Cool post, love the photos!

    • na-o-mi 23 October, 2012 at 15:07 #

      Come during spring or fall…it’s so beautiful right now!!

  8. Megan 23 October, 2012 at 05:39 #

    this post only intensifies my need to get to georgia pronto. gorgeous photos! and im obsessed w/ georgian food. only had it in kiev, but pretty sure nothing on this planet would be as good as georgian food in georgia.

    • na-o-mi 23 October, 2012 at 15:08 #

      It’s amazing, isn’t it?! I had no idea what to expect outside of khachapuri, but it’s so much more!!

      • ako 16 August, 2013 at 18:54 #

        I’m Georgian, I want to say, that here is other kinds of Khachapuri and all of them are fantastic. Great photos :))

  9. Tearroir 23 October, 2012 at 14:20 #

    Some seriously wicked photo going on in this post. Awesome work, and definitely keep it up. Love the perspectives you’re getting, and the landscape stuff is stunning. Keep it up!

    • na-o-mi 23 October, 2012 at 15:09 #

      Thank you thank you! :)

  10. Mark Wiens 23 October, 2012 at 18:12 #

    Great to hear you like Tbilisi so much. It looks beautiful, and from your descriptions, I would love to visit. I’ve heard lots of good things about Georgian food and the hospitality of the people sounds just as wonderful too!

    • na-o-mi 23 October, 2012 at 19:08 #

      Oh man, Mark. Let me tell you.

      The food.

      THE FOOD WILL KILL YOU WITH DELICIOUSNESS!

      You’d dig it ;)

  11. Ryan 24 October, 2012 at 15:45 #

    Wow, this place looks mystical (I think that’s the right word…I’ve been teaching in Korea too long)…but wow it looks like no other place I’ve ever been. Awesome photos, I’ve added Tbilisi to my list of places I want to visit!

    • na-o-mi 24 October, 2012 at 20:04 #

      Ha! Mystical! I’ve heard the mountains and countryside are supposed to be pretty mystical ;)

  12. Ekua 24 October, 2012 at 16:12 #

    Interesting… Georgia has never ever crossed my mind as a travel destination, but this city sounds great. Some of the things you mention are what I love about my favorite city, Mexico City.

    Do me a favor and hide this post ASAP before the fanny packs descend on it :P

    How long will you be there?

    • na-o-mi 24 October, 2012 at 20:05 #

      Just until the first week of November, sadly. Then it’s onto London and then (finally!) Southeast Asia…though I have a feeling Georgia will be swimming around my mind for a long while to come!

  13. Christine | Grrrl Traveler 24 October, 2012 at 16:19 #

    I had considered volunteering to teach English in Georgia for 6 months, but then I think I read something about squat toilets and bad water and then didn’t give it much more consideration. Haha…

    But now I agree with Ekua– your photos and post really make it sound amazing… and I’m slightly afraid like her that it will be descended upon before I can get there!

    • na-o-mi 24 October, 2012 at 20:07 #

      So many people have said that! There is definitely a growing programme to bring English teachers over…and (minus the salary) almost identical benefits to teaching in Korea, I think!!

      You gotta hurry up, then ;)

  14. Edna 24 October, 2012 at 17:34 #

    I LOVE these photos! And what a cool-looking alphabet, I never realized it was so different! You’ve definitely made me want to go to Tbilisi now.

    • na-o-mi 24 October, 2012 at 20:08 #

      Georgian, apparently, is related to no other languages except its own dialects. Isn’t that insane?! Seeing that beautiful crazy script everywhere makes it feel extra confusing and foreign over here! ;)

  15. Craig in New England 24 October, 2012 at 22:37 #

    Shhh! Don’t blog about it too much or it won’t continue to be a secret. I’m jealous, it sounds awesome exploring a city with almost no tourists, gives you a better view into the culture of the area. You take great pictures by the way, you have me completely fascinated with Tbilisi.

    • na-o-mi 25 October, 2012 at 15:22 #

      Ha! Actually writing about these wonderful secrets is the big dilemma, isn’t it? ;)

      Thanks for the kind words! :)

  16. Ellie 25 October, 2012 at 10:55 #

    You’ve convinced me! Amazing photos, looks like an amazing place you stumbled upon. Your good at that!

    • na-o-mi 25 October, 2012 at 15:23 #

      Aw, thank you my love!! xx

  17. Oleah 28 October, 2012 at 17:10 #

    amazing photos! thank you for sharing your adventures with us.

    xthesimplethingsx.blogspot.com

  18. kami 31 October, 2012 at 21:24 #

    why is it surprising you wanted to visit Georgia? here in Poland it seemes like a popular destinationn lately. I was there last year and I adored it! Tbilisi became one of my fave cities right away!

    • na-o-mi 2 November, 2012 at 16:23 #

      You know, we have met quite a few Polish travellers and students here – they’ve obviously got the right idea ;)

      • kami 2 November, 2012 at 16:27 #

        it’s kind of trendy to go to Georgia these days so I’m sure you’ll meet more and more Polish people there ;)

  19. Ruth (Tanama Tales) 2 November, 2012 at 07:51 #

    This is awesome. I understand why you are in love with this city. Thanks for sharing. We don’t get a lot of opportunities to get a good insight of this country. Are you planning visits outside the city?

    • na-o-mi 2 November, 2012 at 16:27 #

      Not as many as I would have liked (too much work to do!), but I did recently make it to Kazbegi and Davit Gareja…two truly astonishing places. Posts coming soon! Have you ever been to Georgia?

  20. Jenny 2 November, 2012 at 15:15 #

    I just found your blog and I have to say that this is an amazing post. You have sold me on Tbilisi completely!!! Thanks :)

    • na-o-mi 2 November, 2012 at 16:28 #

      YES! Love to hear the Tbilisi love is taking over! ;)

  21. em 5 November, 2012 at 00:59 #

    very cool! I want to visit! beautiful photos

    • na-o-mi 12 November, 2012 at 16:04 #

      If Tbilisi goes on your travel list, that makes me very happy :)

  22. Nicole 5 November, 2012 at 07:39 #

    Always been fascinated by visiting Georgia! Can’t wait to read more and perhaps talk when I finally get around to planning a jaunt there.

    • na-o-mi 12 November, 2012 at 16:05 #

      I am always down to share travel tips! ;)

  23. Ramces 12 November, 2012 at 21:22 #

    naomi,

    hello my trail buddy…. yah.. i guess i miss a lot of Tbilisi ..i just have 3 days there and dont have much time to explore the city by day… coz i have great fun to explore the places beyond Tbilisi.. hehehehe (thanks to Satu and you)

    suppose to be i will explore tbilisi when i return from Yerevan that friday.. but minibus schedule from Yerevan to Georgia … where arrive in Tbilisi around 6 pm already…

    but thanks for your pictures here.. i see it during the day-time…

    still have a good reasons to come back to this Tbilisi….

    cheers,

    ramces

    • na-o-mi 15 November, 2012 at 13:32 #

      Get out there and explore! ;)

      • Ramces 15 November, 2012 at 23:00 #

        noami,

        soon.. soon.. i need to fulfill some obligations here in my work.. hehehe…

  24. Alex @ ifs ands & Butts 13 November, 2012 at 04:00 #

    Wow! Just incredible! So great to hear you’re wonderfully happy. Would love to visit somewhere like that untouched by tourism.

  25. sopo 17 November, 2012 at 10:44 #

    got on your blog accidentally, it’s just amazing how u described my city..I love Tbilisi!

    • na-o-mi 18 November, 2012 at 13:39 #

      Yay, so great to hear that from a local!!

  26. Kabrina 18 November, 2012 at 03:29 #

    AMAZING photos, great post; my husband and I were considering coming here this summer and now it is an absolute definite plan!

    • na-o-mi 18 November, 2012 at 13:42 #

      Yay, it’s great to hear that!

  27. Ml Loves Travels 23 November, 2012 at 06:12 #

    I have visited Georgia for 10 days in May. Just like you, it was completely unexpected. Two days before I booked my flight, I never seriously planned to go there. I wanted to go somewhere new for a vacation. I looked what was available. I saw Tbilisi. Paused to consider and that was it. The idea was in my head.

    Me too, I fell absolutly in love with it! For every reason you stated! The bohemain, run-down aleys of old Tbilisi, its artsy bars, the friendliness of Georgians and their devotion, the ruins of the industrial suburbs of Gori, the mightiness of the Great Caucasus… and the wine! I live in Brussels and I have to find a Georgian wine importer. I still have the taste of kidzamarauli on my tongue.
    But wht struckme te most, it’s that I was in a place that felt old… ancient;;; a bit like Rome… but at the same time full of youth and energy.

    And just like you, I’m torn between keeping it for myself or screaming what an awesome place it is. If it wasn’t for the Georgians who would love to see more people visiting their beautiful country, I would shut up about it!

    I’m definitely going back!

    • na-o-mi 2 December, 2012 at 17:16 #

      So true! Glad to hear I wasn’t the only person who was so affected by it…Tbilisi is such a cool spot, and really off the radar!

  28. Antony@Istanbul 28 November, 2012 at 21:37 #

    Dear Naomi,
    I went to Georgia about 1 year ago and even thought I stayed 2 days I could see the beauty and the potential of such destination. Just like you, ı loved the people, the food (oh my god, the food !), the bohemian vibe, the unexpected night life, etc… I live in Istanbul and I should fly in 2 weeks to Tbilisi for business purposes. Would love to meet with you and discuss more about your Tbilisi.

    • na-o-mi 2 December, 2012 at 17:17 #

      I’ve left now, but have fun when you do go! Say hello to the city for me ;)

  29. Janit 23 December, 2012 at 02:20 #

    Its an amazing place for sure – and the warmth of the people is what makes it all so much more special. A wonderful piece with beautiful photographs.

    Thanks for sharing Naomi.

    • na-o-mi 27 December, 2012 at 20:58 #

      Very true – glad to know that someone else knows the magic :)

  30. This Battered Suitcase 8 February, 2013 at 18:08 #

    I just reread this – man, this makes me want to go so badly. I’m going to be in Europe for most of this year and the next, and I think I will have to make a point to visit Georgia…

    • na-o-mi 27 February, 2013 at 15:17 #

      DO. IT. I will e-mail you all the best spots ;) xx

  31. Britt 9 February, 2013 at 01:47 #

    Omg! I have 3 months of down time before I want to move to Brazil. Georgia has been an after thought, but after reading this post I think I’m going for it! Your pictures are incredible!

    • na-o-mi 27 February, 2013 at 15:19 #

      That’s so great to hear!! Have fun :)

  32. Janine 2 March, 2013 at 06:16 #

    Great post, Naomi.

    I found you via your guest post on Edna’s blog. I’ve been thinking of moving to Georgia for a couple of months (since I can stay more than 90 days without needing visit) and this post has made me want to leave right now!

    May I ask how you found your apartment? Was it through a website or through people you know?

    Thanks again for a great post.

    • Naomi Alyssa 1 May, 2013 at 22:30 #

      Couchsurfing! Finding an apartment in Tbilisi is actually quite difficult – I got lucky that the Tbilisi Couchsurfing Group just happened to have an apartment listed. I’d check around with expat groups in town as well. Good luck :)

      • VikingInRock 16 August, 2013 at 16:05 #

        Hello :)
        I am from Kutaisi :) I do like Tbilisi as a capital of Georgia…but..
        there quite a lot of places you can visit in Georgia except the capital.
        Please consider also the great Prometheus Cave in Tskaltubo! This is an amazing thing I assure you!
        And of course come to Kutaisi! :) This is the ancient capital of Georgia! Tbilisi became the capital long long after Kutaisi.
        I am the couchsurfer myself, so find me on couchsurfing by this name and WELOME to Georgia!!!
        PS. In case you stay in Kutaisi you will be in the very heart of Georgia and it is very easy to take bus to any direction!

  33. Clare 1 May, 2013 at 06:43 #

    Amazing post Naomi, thank you! I’m going to Tblisi with three friends for a two week on May 22nd. I’ve got a possible itinerary planned. I wondered if I could run it by you and see what you think. Also any tips would be really welcome!
    Best wishes
    Clare (London)

    • Naomi Alyssa 1 May, 2013 at 22:32 #

      Of course! Send it over to naomi -at- anywhere-but-home.net anytime :)

  34. Julian 3 May, 2013 at 22:10 #

    Thank you so much for this awesome post! I will be living in Tbilisi for three months this autumn and now I’m looking forward to it even more!

    • Naomi Alyssa 7 May, 2013 at 17:06 #

      Hooray!! What are you doing there? I really hope you love it too!! :)

      • Julian 10 May, 2013 at 01:26 #

        I’ll be doing an internship from August until November! :)

  35. OCDemon 7 June, 2013 at 15:26 #

    It makes me happy to read about places like this, and oddly, there seem to be plenty of them. Central Asia seems to have lots and lots of unvisited lands that still resemble places from the 1950s or whatever. Plenty of places have been discovered, but there’s plenty more to be explored.

    • Naomi Alyssa 13 June, 2013 at 16:37 #

      Completely! I used to be obsessed with Central Asia because it looks like there’s such a rich cultural heritage there, right on the old Silk Road, but no-one seems to visit…someday!! ;)

  36. Anne 19 June, 2013 at 03:16 #

    Hi Naomi! I’ve always wanted to go to Georgia. I am planing to visit next month. Will you help me with my itinerary, I will probably travel alone. I’m excited and at the same time nervous. It will be my first time to travel alone. Where can I reach you? Can I email you? Thanks! Hope you could help me.

    • Naomi Alyssa 22 June, 2013 at 14:34 #

      Hey Anne! Feel free to e-mail me at naomi {at} anywhere-but-home.net; I’ll try and help where I can! Georgia has a serious spot in my heart…

      • Christine 25 June, 2013 at 06:03 #

        Hi Naomi!

        Great post! The company I’m working for right now is promoting Tbilisi and is offering lots of good discounts for hotels and tours and after reading your post I think I’m gonna go for it! :) I might go on July 23-28, is the weather okay then? And do you have any recommendations for restaurants or for swimming activities?

        Thank you so much!

        • Naomi Alyssa 25 June, 2013 at 13:59 #

          The weather should be good then! As for pools, I’ve only heard of one by Vake park, and restaurant wise…………oh man. SO many good ones. Shemoikhede Genatsvale and Machakhela are kinda chainy but really good for getting a range of traditional Georgian cuisine with English menus (both also have locations by Marjanishvili Station), though one of the best restaurants I went to was by my old apartment. At the roundabout by Dinamo Arena, there’s a road leading south – just 20 or 30 meters down on the western side of the street is a REALLY good restaurant for traditional food. No English menu (but just ask for khinkali, lobio and/or mchadi if you want the really tasty stuff). You can tell it by the dark wooden interior.

          Have fun!! :)

          • Christine 26 June, 2013 at 21:08 #

            Thank you so much for your feedback and will definitely go visit those places :)

  37. Yoda-J 10 July, 2013 at 00:42 #

    Hi Naomi,

    This blog was simply magical. I absolutely love your writing style. You engaged us not only visually, but also arrest our senses with your inspiring writing. Damn you are good!!

    I have also been bitten by the Georgian bug and will be travelling there in the coming week or so. I will however be going with the aim to settle there for the long term.

    Thank you for your inspiring article. It confirmed to me that I set my heart and sights on the right place.

    Cheers
    Johann

    • Naomi Alyssa 10 July, 2013 at 10:31 #

      Thank you, that really means a lot! Georgia is definitely one of the friendliest places to settle – free year entry stamp at the border! Have fun, I hope you’ll love it.

  38. Ian 29 July, 2013 at 03:59 #

    Hi Naomi, really inspiring article and great pics. I am thinking of visiting Tbilisi on my own this coming weekend for two nights, but it’s a bit of a spur of the moment idea and I know nothing at all about the place. I had been thinking of contacting a travel agency to help, but not sure if it’s worthwhile. I enjoy wandering around, visiting historical buildings – can’t beat a good castle : ) – or getting out to visit old towns in the countryside. Do you have any recommendations? Thanks a lot, Ian

    • Naomi Alyssa 31 July, 2013 at 16:32 #

      If you only have two nights, you can try to get out to Mtskheta – it’s about an hour away, and the heart of Georgian Orthodoxy. Lots of old churches and buildings there! Otherwise, I’d focus on Tbilisi. There are some really beautiful historical places in the old town. Enjoy your trip!!

  39. Julie 30 July, 2013 at 23:08 #

    Hi, Naomi!
    I have just discovered your blog and I find it simply amazing! While reading your lines I get the desire to travel all over the world. Georgia seems to be very interesting and not swarming with tourists. I like such places :) I have to learn more about Georgia! I have just learnt that there is a parntership between my native city in France and Tbilisi. Maybe it’s a sign…
    I wish you all the best for your future trips and a lot of fun.

    • Naomi Alyssa 31 July, 2013 at 16:37 #

      Hi Julie, thank you so much for the kind words; it’s nice to hear that this blog inspires :) Do visit Georgia someday – it’s severely underrated!

  40. Sophie 2 August, 2013 at 04:39 #

    Firstly: what beautiful photos! Little bit in love with just those, even without the amazing information in the blog around it haha.

    Secondly: Tbilisi is now firmly on my to-travel-to list! I was in Moscow recently and ate some Georgian food and I just loved it; I recognise the bread and when we got back from Russia I even had a dream about khachapuri. So I would go to Georgia just to investigate the food more, but this post has convinced me that there is tonnes more to explore.

    • Naomi Alyssa 10 August, 2013 at 14:33 #

      Thank you kindly, Sophie! It makes me so happy to hear people say that who have read this post. Always happy to spread the love for Georgia!!

      • Giga 16 August, 2013 at 03:46 #

        Hey Naomi, thanks for spreading a nice word on Geo and Tb. I think they’re magical but then again I’m biased, being Georgian. If you want to see THE best views on Tbilisi email me. It will be my pleasure to repay a bit of a favour you’re doing by promoting my country.

        Cheers

  41. Mariam 15 August, 2013 at 05:17 #

    Lovely blog post, thank you so much for complimenting my home city with so much warmth. I hope your stay there will continue to be enjoyable :) moving back there in a couple of weeks, who knows maybe we’ll bump into each other!

  42. Nina 15 August, 2013 at 22:26 #

    Thank you for this brilliant coverage of my most favorite city in the world, my Tbilisi. I have lived in the US for 25 years and a day does not go by I dont miss Georgia, this ancient, unique winecountry, with so much flavor and history.

  43. vakho 16 August, 2013 at 01:09 #

    wow. you have made me want to go back and live in my country again…ive lived in denver CO for past 14 years but havent visited tbilisi in over a year now…this post got me all itchy to drop everything here and go back. I appreciate what you have said about my city and my people…it is nice to see someone who appreciates and loves the place who isnt from there and isnt biased. great post. thanks again!

  44. Aka (from Georgia) 16 August, 2013 at 03:06 #

    Naomi, you really got the point :)

  45. Nino 16 August, 2013 at 05:23 #

    Hello Naomi! Thank you so much for such an incredible post! :) Made me value once more what for now I have left behind! <3

  46. Melissa Turner 16 August, 2013 at 07:01 #

    thank you so much for posting this – my boyfriend can’t understand why i’m so infatuated with Tbilisi (he’s not been!), hopefully this will help explain things…..whenever I can afford it, I keep returning :) Enjoy every minute!

  47. Nino 16 August, 2013 at 17:06 #

    Naomi,

    what an amazing blog post! thank you for spreading so much positive about Georgia. Your pictures are so authentic and they show things which we see here everyday and pass by but your blog shows those from different, better perspective. I “re-apreciated” my city. Good job!

  48. Anna 16 August, 2013 at 17:07 #

    I’ve visited Georgia three Times, every time for one month… I went there alone meeting my Georgian friends: it was amazing!
    Take a look of my blog, it’s in Italian, but you can easily translate with google translate or others… And there are pictures too! ;)))

    georgianesi.blogspot.it

    Byee

  49. kati 16 August, 2013 at 17:22 #

    Georgia is a nice place to visit for a few weeks. Pictures can only describe little bits of Tbilisi. There are lots of Cons of Tbilisi that no one really knows about because they do not actually stay long enough or live there. Tbilisi is a high crime and high everything. Yes, the country is very beautiful but this post does not show/tell you everything about Tbilisi. You do not see the abandon animals everywhere in the streets, you don’t get told of all the bad experiences women deal with because they stand out, you do not get told that people die every day because they drive horrible, or that they smoke and drink so much its outrageous. When visiting, just please do not get your expectations so high. I am saying thing from experience since I’ve been living here the last 3 years. Every place has their pros and cons…but please take visiting a foreign county serious. There has been lots of bad incidents in Tbilisi.

  50. Levan 16 August, 2013 at 19:15 #

    Thanks Naomi. It feels amazing every time I read or hear foreigners complementing my city.

  51. Nana Japaridze 17 August, 2013 at 03:22 #

    Thank you for this beautiful post. Rarely have a met foreigner who understood Tbilisi so intimately and so genuinely. I love my city fiercely. Your post has done it justice. Enjoy!

  52. Tati 17 August, 2013 at 05:30 #

    WOW, boy was I thrilled when I stumbled upon your article. I am from Tbilisi, Georgia and as you would expect most people have NO idea of its existence. I am going to use your article to point it out to my friends and associates in the US. If I had said all of what you mentioned I would be considered biased, but I am very pleased to hear it from a non-Georgian. Really appreciate your love for my city and my country. THANK YOU ! (On behalf of my entire family)

  53. Sandra 17 August, 2013 at 10:51 #

    Hi Naomi,

    Great post! I love it am using it to entice the few of my friend who haven’t come out to visit me here in Tbilisi. I came to live here almost four years ago not knowing what to expect and now in about 8 months or so I will be moving to Myanmar. I am sad to be leaving the city that loves but not that much as I like to joke. But, honestly it has grown very dear to my heart not least of all because of the friendships I’ve made with some Georgians. The city has an ease to it and a feeling that is almost magical. It is all the combination of the ancient and the young all wrapped up in one. There are a lot of things about Georgia that aren’t so good but high crime and bad experiences on the street as a woman is not one of them. I’ve never had or heard of any of these things personally and I came from NYC expecting the worse. But, to be fair there are a lot of strays, the drivers are the worst in the world and the amount of smoking is unbelievable. That being said there are lots of good things to enjoy and discover in Tbilisi and in Georgia. Thanks for your wonderful spot light on the place.

  54. Mark Kanty 30 August, 2013 at 06:02 #

    Naomi,

    Want a wonder story you share of Tbilisi in pictures and words. While await word that my son has arrived there safely to Teach and Learn in Georgia. Thank you!

  55. Catarina 5 September, 2013 at 21:09 #

    Hi Naomi!
    I am planning to visit Georgia soon and I found your blog while I surfed the WWW. I was absolutely amazed with your description and the will to go has just grown on me :) Are you still living in Tbilisi? Can I ask some questions? I heard about the sour relations with Russia – is that a real problem for travelers (in or ouside Tbilisi)? I would go at the end of October – do you think too bad weather or worth it anyhow?
    Thank you so much for your answers and for your great shared stories :)

    • VikingInRock 5 September, 2013 at 21:38 #

      Привет Катарина!
      I am half georgian and half russian. and i am going to georgia in 2 weeks. no problem there for russians :)
      relationship is not good in politics not for people
      in case you have any questions – ask ))) i am Kutaisi citizen so i am local )))
      буду рада встрече в кутаиси ))))

  56. Safaa 24 September, 2013 at 19:26 #

    Im heading there in 3 weeks from now. I’m from Morocco and literarely no one from my family or my non-AIESEC friends know about the country. They get excited when i say Georgia thinking its the US state but then gazing at me in a strage way when i correct.

    Thank you for the article.

    • Simo 18 November, 2013 at 20:42 #

      salam Safaa,

      Are you still in tbilisi? I am also from morocco and I am traveling to Georgia from Paris the end of the month. shoukran, Simo

      • Naomi Alyssa 19 November, 2013 at 12:37 #

        Unfortunately not! Have a great time, though :)

  57. Sarah Cobham 4 November, 2013 at 00:30 #

    I absolutely loved this blog – I have travelled to Georgia many many times and you have certainly captured the heady I have fallen in love with everything phase.

    There are however other things people need to know about Georgia -it has a dark side. I am sure you know what I am speaking about – I write about those things, especially with regards how women are perceived.

    http://sarahcobham1.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/georgia-where-do-i-fit-in_11.html

  58. Hameeda 12 November, 2013 at 14:13 #

    Hi ,
    I truly enjoyed reading your blog post about Georgia. Is it worth it to visit Tbilisi in December?

  59. dale 24 November, 2013 at 08:52 #

    I’ve been looking at traveling to Georgia for awhile and am now planning to go in the spring. Your post and photos are terrific. I especially appreciate the random street art shots.
    I look forward to seeing it for myself.

  60. David 27 November, 2013 at 15:10 #

    What a nice summation of Georgia Naomi! My wife is Georgian (we live in Sydney) and we were fortunate enough to go back in 2010 and I can’t agree with you more – what an amazing, ancient, and very foreign country. The people are so warm, humble and friendly. We came across three Norweigen tourists the entire 2 weeks we were there although I had my suspicions they were lost :). I can’t wait to go back in 2014. Highly recommend a visit to this fascinating country!

  61. miramax 5 December, 2013 at 23:53 #

    This is the best post I’ve ever read about Tbilisi.
    this is my city, I born and rise here and i love HER very much!!

    thanks for this post Naomy :)

  62. andie farren 6 December, 2013 at 02:31 #

    very good post! been thinking visiting Tbilisi its now top of the list :-)

  63. shotiko 6 December, 2013 at 03:44 #

    i am really glad that u are impressed by my country and people.

  64. George 6 December, 2013 at 09:10 #

    I left Tbilisi in 2000. I am visiting it at least once a year. Even the fact that I was born there and I perfectly speak the language does not prevents me from seeing and experiencing it every time in a new way. I think the magic is the diversity, the contrast and the permanent change in this city – every year, every month, every day…

    Thank you for beautiful pictures they made me feel being there. From all cities around the world I’v ever seen and visited my absolute number one love is Berlin, and after reading you post I finally know WHY. Thank you Naomi!

  65. Max Johnson 14 December, 2013 at 05:12 #

    Thanks for this – I, too, think that Tbilisi is one of my favourite cities in the world; but folks should hurry up and get there before it is swept away by “modernisation”

  66. Ramaz 14 December, 2013 at 05:21 #

    Naomi, Come to our natural wine bar “VINO Underground” at 15 Galaktion Tabidze str, Tbilisi.

    • Justin 19 December, 2013 at 15:04 #

      Hope to go and have a good time.

  67. Jane 15 December, 2013 at 16:42 #

    Well written! I love the photos that come with your post. I’m actually visiting Georgia in two weeks and hope to explore as many places as I can during my stay.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Jane

  68. Shirine 16 December, 2013 at 18:49 #

    Great to hear! I have heard amazing thins about the country, and have already planned to spend the winter there (as I am cycling, and would rather spend the winter teaching English or volunteering than living in my tent!). I can’t wait!

    Awanderingphoto.wordpress.com

  69. s 18 December, 2013 at 07:23 #

    I am from Georgia and let me tell you that there is variety of nature full of lakes and green sceneries, high mountains, Black Sea resorts.. especially Racha has a unique nature.. with its green forests.. Shaori lake.. and so forth… if you visit Georgia you better taste Khinkali and khachapuri. There is most beautiful black sea resort Batumi.. ( If there is any girl that wish to get introduced with Georgian guy.. Im here.. let’s walk around georgia or only Tbilisi. together..skype. shotiko-22 I am really loking forward to .. making foreign friend would be nice.. and interesting

  70. Justin 19 December, 2013 at 15:02 #

    2 weeks to go and can’t wait. First winter December for me. Used to sunny South Africa.

  71. Nicole 20 December, 2013 at 02:31 #

    Wicked post! I love it here in Georgia. I am a PCV and only have 6 more months here. It’s become my 2nd home and it pains me to think about leaving. Thanks for this post, helped to remind me why I love it here.

  72. Max neumegen 21 December, 2013 at 20:50 #

    Yes yes yes
    Well captured
    Well presented
    I will return
    One day, a (adventurous) travellers day.
    Gaumarjos.
    Having been around this little world twice now, and much of it overland,
    It was a privilege to share time in Georgia, the Caucasus.
    The true “essense” of overland travel.
    I will return.
    And carefully,
    Georgia will grab you and hold you…

  73. Louise 24 December, 2013 at 03:46 #

    Dear readers,
    Not to ruin all the massive hipsterish photo-shopped delusion that is this blog sets up BUT…in my humble opinion as a very experienced traveler Tbilisi has as much charm as a crumbling rotting funeral home.

    I suppose if you disregard the near death experiences every time you walk around the streets or take a cab,or the non existing service at EVERY food place the never ending strips of alcohol-jesus shops (yes in that order, between every 2 alcohol shop there is some sort of christian shop) the local”s miserably blank dead stares,the mind blowing combo of pollution and smoke,the extinction of English speaking people (you wont be able to communicate a single thing unless you use hand gestures),smelly toilets,poop on sidewalks, the empty streets after 8 pm…I guess it can be considered a nice place.

    No one comes here because there is Nothing to do,nothing to see unless you’re willing to spend money and go hundreds of kilometers outside the capital and see the mountains and the sea, and btw the only food available and reliable around here is the dumplings and the breads, and believe me after 20 days it gets old.
    One good thing to do is rent a place and cook your own food since groceries and rent are relatively cheap.
    Never come during winter, you’ll be disappointed by the lack of the above mentioned vines hanging from every house and pretty much all the nice filtered scenes this blogs has.
    Tbilisi looks good ONLY under these 2 conditions: a) covered in snow so you don’t see the crumbling falling apart haunted houses b)at night where the lights on the hills and mountains gives a charming illusion soon destroyed by sunrise.

    The photos above paint a very inaccurate daily life picture of how things really are.
    I don’t know what everyone is talking about,either you have no taste or don’t know what makes a good functional exciting place to visit,Georgia is cheap and that’s about it.

    Its easy to romanticize all the “bohemian” or haunted looking buildings and orthodox aspects of Georgia but lets not forget that this is a very strict catholic sexist patriarchal society.

    Georgia isn’t great just because no one knows about it, no one knows about it because it isn’t great.

    • Max Johnson 25 December, 2013 at 02:54 #

      Louise … you do seem a touch harsh on Georgia! While there is certainly an element of truth in what you say, there is also a substantial community to whom the patina of the city is its charm. We know that Georgia is not rich, and has not the opportunity to raze the city and build some new and “productive” replacement, but this is a part of its charm.

      Georgia being “backward” is hardly a surprise, although in many ways their lives a far in advance of our western rush; it is a deeply religious country indeed, but the orthodoxy of the Georgian church has been the single thread of culture that has allowed them to withstand millenia of occupations by Turks, Persians, Ottomans, Russians, Soviets and others who have sought to conquer their strongholds and souls. It is indeed a religious country, and for myself who does not subscribe to any dogma, I find the omnipresence of this church stabilizing and comfortable.

      It is indeed a patriarchal society, but if you look at the number of extraordinary women involved in senior levels of government, you will see an influence that is probably on a par with the Scandinavians, and the country is better off for it. It is a country that only fifteen years ago was in civil war, economic and political destruction and within a decade and a half has moved visibly and culturally to a strong footing from which to evolve.

      Georgia is remarkable, and your perspective, while superficially accurate, does not recognize the change that they have been able to bring; in complete contrast to most of the former Soviet Republics, the system is democratic, business is mostly free, and their geopolitical position is being managed.

      Their food, I will agree, can be stodgy, and a diet of cheese bread and dumplings would do little for one’s figure. You did, however, fail to mention the fresh produce so readily available, and the extraordinary dishes made from seasonal products, and not imported Chilean tomatoes!

      I love Tbilisi, and I love Georgia; I have travelled there from Canada about ten times, and have at least two trips there booked for next year. Do I go there for any specific reason? I go for the unique combination of culture, music, history and above all the inimitable Georgian spirit and warmth; as a society, there is no other more welcoming, and I love it.

      A rotting Funeral Parlor? An interesting image, and amusing, but look beyond and see the strength of character that this advancing patina has brought to a bullied, isolated and endearing country.

      • Louise 25 December, 2013 at 21:10 #

        Dear Max,
        Thank you for your informative reply, and not reacting negatively to my frustration.
        I appreciate all the information you provided and the historical/cultural/social background, it’s true that Georgia is unique and has its own spirit.
        I do realize that Georgians evolved a great deal since their civil war, and are taking big steps to try and build their cities while preserving the orthodoxy bohemian charm.

        I was wondering if you have any advice for meeting people and socializing in Tbilisi or some activities, I tried websites like couchsurfing and internations but little or no activities are being posted, and since this is my first visit I’m having a bit of a hard time meeting people or finding the right places to do so.

        • Max Johnson 28 December, 2013 at 01:39 #

          Hi … it is hard to know what to suggest really, but there is a pretty good expat community that tends to congregate at Betsy’s Hotel, particularly on Fridays.

          To meet Georgians, far more interesting, the cafes in the Old Town and bars like Vino Underground are good; the coffee shops are great, and like any other city, to meet folks, one has to go out. Fortunately there is a lot of music, some great art galleries, museums and public spaces, and thousands of friendly Georgians …

  74. Konstantin 10 January, 2014 at 23:02 #

    Hi there everyone, I’m from Georgia Tbilisi and it will be very interesting to give you advises how to get a good time being in Georgia, because there are some reasons: I love meeting people traveling around my country, camping, hiking and sightseeing with them. So if you decide to visit this great country you should contact me and I with pleasure help you to enjoy your travel for a long unforgettable time. Feel free to ask me any questions. Wish you a good time friends…

    • Ali 21 April, 2014 at 23:15 #

      Hi Konstantin,, thank you for your offer,, please send me advise to have fun in Tbilisi, Georgia

      looking forward to seeing you.

  75. Elene 2 February, 2014 at 22:04 #

    I am Georgian student, living in Bangkok for 5 months already and this article totally burst me into tears. You have described everything in so much detail and respect, nothing is artificial or made by you. Thank you so much for loving my homeland, I miss it every day and I am happy to see the people , who see the one and only, individual style of Tbilisi.

    Best wishes!!

  76. walt1948 14 April, 2014 at 09:14 #

    I know that I can visit Georgia and stay for a year. But how long do I have to leave Georgia for and be able to stay another year? just a day or two in Turkey and return… Or do you have to be gone for several months before you can stay in Georgia again for a year? Just curious.
    thanks
    walt

  77. Ali 21 April, 2014 at 23:09 #

    Hi,, I will be visiting Tbilisi, Georgia next month in mid of may 2014,, first time,, so exited..

    Thanks Dear..if you have more tips for me,, I appreciate..

  78. Junior 7 June, 2014 at 21:41 #

    Your pictures are breathtaking!!!

  79. Jack 2 July, 2014 at 12:49 #

    I have an opportunity to take a contract for a year in Georgia, living in Tbilisi, commuting to Gori everyday. I’m 52, open to adventure, but would like to know what life is like for a single man my age there. I’m being offered a great compensation package, but really wonder if this is right move for me. Opinions?
    Jack

    • onyi 12 February, 2015 at 16:37 #

      Hey #jack am planning on moving down to tblisi too did u have fun on your visit?.:)

  80. Pieter 29 July, 2014 at 20:08 #

    It’s true. Tbilisi is a great city: Nice people, surprisingly atmosphere, good food, great history, impressing buildings, nice mix of history and 2014!
    There are too many places worse to be!

  81. Filipe Morato Gomes 17 September, 2014 at 00:08 #

    Just found your travel blog when searching for information about Georgia. Haven’t been there yet but i’m already in love :) Thanks for the article. Safe travels, Filipe

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