AWAY TRIP REVIEW: TBILISI - SEPTEMBER 2017

THE CITY

Much changed since our first visit here in 2003. Western commercialism has really taken hold in Tbilisi, but you still risk your life crossing the roads here. The Old Town district has boomed into a thriving area of bars and restaurants. The weather was scorching hot throughout our stay.

THE SIGHTS

Panoramic views of Tbilisi – from either Narikala Fortress or Mtatsminda Mountain – are some of the most spectacular you will see in Europe. The sulphur baths in the Abano Street are an experience, though a high tolerance of public nudity is required.

THE PEOPLE

Georgians are some of the most hospitable and welcoming people we have met on Ireland trips. The young are warm and English speaking, the old are gruff and Russian speaking. Both are more than happy to share a drink. Every other man was named Giorgi, every other woman was named Nino.

THE FOOD

Highly recommend the khachapuri (boat shaped piping hot pastry with a cheese and runny fried egg filling in the middle) and the Kubdari (salty mince meat pies). Service in restaurants not the most efficient though.

THE DRINK

Local beers Natakhtari and Zedazeni Sviani were more than adequate in the scorching weather and cheap (unless you bought it at The German Bar two doors down from MacLarens). The wines were mighty fine too, but Chacha, the 50% proof brandy was deadly. You’d struggle to sip it, never mind down it in one go.

THE STADIUM

The Dinamo Arena was your typical generic concrete bowl with a running track around it. The stadium exterior is seemingly made up entirely of furniture stores. The ground was no more than half full during the match, but the local fans more than raised the roof in cheering their team on.

MISCELLANEOUS

If you are drunk in Tbilisi, you can actually ring the police and get them to take you home for free. However this service is seldom used, as no self-respecting Georgian will ever admit to being unable to hold their drink.

Cathal Chu