2nd – 8th Feb 2016
“Tbilisi loves you”
They write it in the airport and the free wi-fi network from the subway reminds you the same tagline in its title.
I must agree with this tagline. Tbilisi it’s a lovely and lively city, even during the winter season, and even if everybody told me that it’s much better in summer.
Anyway, Tbilisi took care of me, the weather was better than I’ve imagined for that time of the year and it started snowing just after I took the bus to the airport for my return flight.
While waiting for my flight and hoping for the flight to not be delayed because of the snow, I wrote some additional notes about my 6 days trip to Georgia and Armenia, after having scrambled eggs breakfast.
It was an awesome trip, 6 days, Georgia and a short visit to Armenia (Yerevan), evidently it wasn’t enough to see a lot, but it was enough to make me want to come again, in summer, as suggested by my new friends, and it was awesome to meet my good friend John.
I think that, besides the flight expenses (Post about hacking sky-scanner 😀 ), I spent about 200-250 euros, which is not that bad for a week, having in mind that I was having beers with John every evening, I bought souvenirs, an SD card of 32 GB for which I paid 50 lari (about 18 euros), an album filled with stamps and, on top of all, the night train to Armenia, round-trip for about 100 lari (36 euros), so if you are planning to visit eastern Europe, at a reasonable price, either Georgia, Armenia or, even better, both, are very good options.
Beware of the airport cabbies!
Oh…one more thing here. When you get out of Tbilisi airport, be sure to have some change, like 0.50 lari. I recommend using one of the ATMs inside the airport and then try to break the bill so you get a 0.50 lari coin. You’ll need it for the bus that takes you to the city center. You just get inside the no. 37 bus, which stands right in front of the doors of the airport, every 15 minutes or so.
Without knowing these, I got burnt. Took some money from the ATM, asked for the shuttle bus to the city, they told me it will be outside, a bus was there but when I went on board and asked some Georgian folks, they couldn’t answer my question if the bus is going to the city center but they were able to explain that I need to put a coin in a machine to get a ticket. I got off that bus, hoping that another bus will come, and the cabbies started to come and tried to convince me to take the cab to the city. These guys were more English proficient, they were repeating cheap, econom, twenty lari, fifteen lari, ten lari, nice car, Mercedes. After 10 minutes, no other bus appeared and I was feeling odd because I was constantly telling the cabbies either that “I’m ok”, “I’ll take the bus”, “I’m waiting for a friend”, but they only replied in Russian or Georgian, can’t tell the difference. Eventually, I took a cab, George, the cabbie, introduced himself, and for what I thought would be a 15 lari drive. I get in the car, a Mercedes, thinking that 15 lari ain’t that bad, but when I ask him “so we are ok with 15 lari?” he pressed a button and said that the machine will tell. I knew it… He offered me a cigarette, a local brand, I offered him a Romanian one, he put Georgian music, we did some rudimentary small talk and after 20 minutes I reached my destination with the display showing 40 lari.
40 lari, that’s 15 euros, not that big of a damage, but it was a bad start if I was planning to have a low-cost holiday. I calmed down soon enough when I saw prices for different stuff.
Transportation? No matter if bus or metro, one ride it’s 0.50 lari (18 Eurocents!).
Beer? – cheapest beer 2-3 lari
Streed food? – starting 2-3 lari and for 5-6 lari, you can get some tasty “Mexican” potatoes in a bar together with those beers.
So without further details on the money part, I will switch to food, language, hospitality, landmarks and other stuff I remember or noted down around here about beautiful Georgia and Armenia.
On the food section I didn’t experiment too much because I have been vegetarian for almost one year, and traditional food around these parts of the world are based a lot on meat, but John instead, everywhere we went, he had the famous dumplings. Actually, now if I think about it, not only John had Khinkali (Georgian dumplings), but most of the people in restaurants were having dumplings.
The language, oh boy, the language. Both Georgia and Armenia have different alphabets. They both look awesome, but there was no chance for me to get familiar with it to a level where you could use your intuition to understand the meaning. Some boards had a secondary English script, but it’s quite easy to go around in Tbilisi just having the subway map and the city map from the information center in the airport, and in pubs/bars/cafes you’ll find way more English speakers. For me, it was quite easy. John knows some Russian, some Turkish, and he tried to talk with almost everybody in order to practice his skills. I was too busy anyways, taking pictures and checking the map.
Funny thing. I found a somehow strong connection between Georgia and Romania in…alcohol. Their popular “chacha” drink, which is some strong spirit drink usually made from grape residues after making wine, is very similar to the Romanian “tuica”, or better said “palinca“, its stronger version, which is made out of apples, plums, pears etc. Both products taste quite similar, even though they are made from different fruits. (Just consulted Wikipedia, and palinca is more of a Carpathian Basin specific drink, not just Romania).
I want to keep my posts in a decent length and so far my friend you just completed reading about 1000 words, so I will stop here for now, but…
To be continued…About new friends, trains, boarders, diapers, old places, adventures.
In the meantime, read more about what I am doing or check one of this links: