Captivating Georgia | Part 1 -Ceddy's Random - Ceddy's Random

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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Captivating Georgia | Part 1 -Ceddy's Random


Captivating Georgia

Travel once a year to a place that you never visited. Once a year is not bad, isn't it?
I prefer to visit places where snow exists.

 I'm working in the Middle East, and the winter in Abu Dhabi is not as cold as other places that I visited before (Armenia for example). For some reason, I'm in love with cold places. Or maybe it's just, that I never experienced such cold weather (like negative degrees Celsius *if you know what I mean) like in my country The Philippines, nor in the UAE.

This year, I recently visited Tbilisi, Georgia. It's my dream place to visit.  I've always wanted to have a Schengen visa, however, it would be a long process to obtain one and I find it time-consuming.

So for me to catch a glimpse of a picturesque European view, I opted to visit Tbilisi, Georgia.
I am allowed to visit Georgia -Visa-free since I have a residence visa from the UAE.

At The Shota Rustaveli Airport


Welcome to Georgia!

I presented my 2 passports.
The old one that has a stamp with my working visa on it. Then I was able to get through the immigration.

Fun part? I recently renewed my passport as it's almost 3 months to expire. The requirements for me to travel should be 6 months. So I renewed it last December and got it by January.  I was a bit worried as well thinking that immigration at  Tbilisi Airport wouldn't allow me to enter as my new passport had some soda stains, for some reason, the soda was spilled inside my bag along with my passport, luckily the main page of my passport was not stained that much, this has happened a month before my scheduled tour. But, Thankfully, the immigration officer was able to scan my passport, hassle-free (It was such a relief).

If you are traveling to Georgia as a GCC Expat, ensure that you carry along with you your old passport (if you have a new passport, as the immigration officers will check the visa on it, ensure that you carry your Emirates I.D as well (if you are from the UAE).

Where is Georgia? (Not Georgia in the United States of America)

People are asking me, Where is Georgia exactly? My friends are wondering, Am I in Europe? or in the Middle East? Well, As far as the tour guide explained to me, Georgia is straddling Western Asia and Eastern Europe and the region is the Caucasus.  Or to make it short, It's a country in the Caucasus region in Eurasia. Still confused? Ask Google 😄

Upon arrival at the Shota Rustaveli Airport, A representative from Holiday Me (The agency that I booked this trip) picked me up at the airport and dropped me at the hotel where I will be staying for 4 days and 3 nights.

It took us almost half an hour from the airport to the hotel. The hotel is situated in the city center. Just a 10-minute drive from the Bridge of Peace- one of the iconic landmarks in Tbilisi.

Pick up from airport to hotel

Hotel Accommodation

The hotel is the Tbilisi Park Hotel. A small and stylish hotel located inside a park. You can walk to all the sites for 30 to 40 minutes., or a  10-minute drive via taxi to the Bridge of Peace and Narikala Fortress,  you can jump into the metro as it is only a minute's walk from the hotel.
The food was okay, Variety of slices of bread, khachapuri, eggs, sausages, cereals, and more were served during breakfast.

Hotel Room (What's Inside?)

The hotel rating via is 9.0. And I can say that this hotel is superb. The friendly staff will greet you from time to time. Staff will help you to find a taxi if you request to. Room service is excellent and on time. The food that they offer during the buffet breakfast is okay. Most of the food they offer in the morning is somehow like English breakfast with a mix of local bread such as Khachapuri to name a few. 

The hotel room is very "homey". Our room has a small window, overlooking some of the local houses at the backside of the hotel.

Here are some of the pictures.

behind the window, local houses can be seen

Free time- Upon arrival on the first day

I rested for half an hour and decided to hop off to the City. I asked the hotel receptionist to book a taxi.

Uber? Na-ah

Folks, FYI, UBER is not working here and the only way you can use an online ride-sharing app is through the "Yandex taxi app" - you can download it via Google Play or the App Store.
Unfortunately, I never got the chance to use it for some reason. Instead,  I just hail a taxi cab though I find it difficult to speak with the locals because of the language barrier (It is part of the experience anyway).

But surprisingly, the locals are very helpful and they will try their best to help me out as some taxi drivers will ask other locals who know English so that they can translate and so forth.

It was a new experience for me. But I also encountered a driver who extorted me too much of the taxi fare. And it was too difficult for me to understand as he speaks natively. I paid 3x as much as I paid from the hotel to the old city.

That's why folks, as much as possible, kindly download the ride-sharing app just in case. And if you want to use mobile data, a Local sim is available at the airport as well. I never bought one for some reason too. From the hotel (where I'm staying)  to the Bridge of Peace, I paid 6 gel (Georgian lari,  approximately  $2.50,)

The fun part was that the places that I visited on my arrival were the same places that were listed on our trip the other day. However, another tourist spot was added apart from visiting the old city of Tbilisi.

Unfortunate Things Happened

One thing that I noticed as well is beggars. On my first day, A beggar grabbed my soda while I was exploring the city center. He even greeted me and asked if he could take my soda (He was speaking in the Russian language, with his body language begging to take the soda), So I refused, but then he grabbed it while saying "spasiba"- which means thank you in Russian. I was speechless. It never happened to me on my previous trips. Only in Georgia. Anyway, I'm not surprised about beggars as this is normal in some countries, but the only thing that surprised me was some of them are aggressive just like this guy.

Old City Of Tbilisi 

I ask assistance from the receptionist to book me a cab going to the old town
10 to 15 mins, Fast track, I'm standing in front of the bridge of peace. I was like, hey? Is this for real? Could anyone slap me? (lol) Yes, I am! I'm in Old City!. Such a surreal experience.
A lot of tourists and locals just relax and enjoy the day in Rike Park. So do I.

I had the chance to take a picture of the Bridge of Peace (with fewer people in the background, lol). I saw a lot of futuristic buildings and architectural designs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. But one thing that amazes me about this iconic landmark of Tbilisi? Is its own history. 

During my 15-minute stay in this spot, A lot of teenagers (locals) encouraged me to try boat riding in the Mtkvari River (Where the Bridge of Peace was built). They offer wines and bread while you ride in the boat to explore the river passing the bridge of peace and vice versa. Trust me, these locals are very eager to convince me to try the offer. But I didn't, as I find it expensive. 

The Bridge of Peace is a crossing point between the Rike Park (A capacious park by the way) and the "old part" of town. It also provides amazing views of Tbilisi, especially at sunrise, sunset, or night.

Rike Park

Bridge of Peace

Tbilisi Aerial Tram to Narikala Fortress 

Ticked off the list on my bucket list- Ride in a cable car.
You have the option to visit the top of the Fortress, Either by walking or riding in an aerial tram,  So I decided to choose the tram for a change. 

The cost of the cable car is relatively cheap. 2 gel (Georgian lari) for one way and 4 gel for a round trip ( $1.50). You need to have a metro card to use the cable car, again, the cost of the metro card is 2 gels. The agent reloads my card for about 10 gels. The metro card can be used as well for public transport and the metro as well. 

The Aerial View

While the tram is going up to the fortress, it reveals the aerial view of the old town. Seeing the old town on the left side and the "modern" portion on the right side.

Narikala Fortress

Crossing the Bridge Of Peace. I'm now on the part of the old town. Where Narikala Fortress Also called the Mother Fortress of Tbilisi, can be seen. Narikala is an ancient fortress overlooking Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, and the Mtkvari River. I also visited the Narikala Tourist Route, where a tall statue of Mother Georgia can be found.

oh, hello there Bridge of Peace :)
Mktvari River
Mother Georgia

Be mindful folks, as the fortress, is situated on a steep hill. So make sure to wear comfy shoes. Girls, Leave your stilettos. (lol).  Sulphuric baths and botanical gardens are accessible within this spot as well. 
Botanical Garden

I got the chance to climb at the top portion of the St.Nicholas Church (they recently restored it)
Climbing at the top is quite dangerous. As spiky limestone is unbearable and might slip you out. It was difficult as you reached the top, the passageway was getting difficult to pass on.

But once you reach the top. It's really worth it. The exhilarating view of the old city. It was a refreshing feeling. Speechless I say.
Here are some of the pictures.

Souvenirs and Cha Cha 

If you visit a place, you should try their local delicacies or local drinks. In Tbilisi, Try cha- a Georgian pomace brandy, it is clear and strong by the way. This is their local brandy that comes with 40 percent alcohol proof.  I'm not fond of drinking beer or vodka, but I decided to try a shot of it. And trust me, It's super strong that I felt it on my throat, it's like a hot sting inside. I look reddish after trying that drink. 

 St. Nicholas Church

I got the chance to visit and pray inside the St. Nicholas Church (within the vicinity of Narikala Fortress) I'm a Christian Anglican and the vibe inside this church is somehow magical and mystical for me.

Here are some of the pictures below:

Exploring The City Center

Metro Station 

I still have the time to explore the city. And decided to try their metro station.
The Rustaveli or Tbilisi Metro station is 60 meters long and has an escalator length of 120 meters. 
I was surprised at what the underground metro station looked like. I never thought about it as this was my first time seeing such a very deep underground metro station. The Metro Station offers free WiFi as well. (yey!)

Hello Philippine Consulate! :)

Trying Shawarma (Cause I'm Starving)

I was starving and I didn't even bother to think which one to eat.  When I saw a restaurant that sells shawarma. I immediately ordered two of them. It's downside comical to try a food that you already eaten for how many times. 

But trust me, If you are hungry, you don't have the option to search for another alternative. So I tried one. Most of the food that they serve here is halal. So worry-free.

Now, that's a wrap folk!

This is just part one of my Georgia Trip. More to follow.
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  1. I just spent half an hour reading this post so many times lol. so so so happy to hear about your experiences! can not wait to see the 2nd part of your trip ;)