Nevertheless, we reach Tbilisi in one piece (in Georgian worm script თბილისი) at an incredibly crowded travel hub. Masses of mashrutkas and taxis crowd together and people rush past each other. We organize a taxi with the Dutchman that will take us to the historic heart of the city for a mere three euros. There we say goodbye to Jan. By chance we will meet again some time later in the coastal town of Batumi.
I have found a nice place to stay on the internet for us again, a whole apartment for us for the four days we want to be here for only a few euros again.
The taxi has to steer vertically up the mountain to the street we want to take. There is no house number, but a young woman there was the right person to contact. She lives with her husband and children in the apartment next door and rents the house, which from the outside gives the impression that a small earthquake or a couple of enthusiastic woodworms can make the difference between property owners and nomads. Without question, the apartment and the view over the city are indescribably beautiful!
Tbilisi is changing. At every corner one is in the process of bringing the old houses up to date. The classic Georgian houses are two-story in a Mediterranean style and are characterized by their incredibly filigree carvings, especially in the shutters and railings. The old town is overcrowded with tourists. It seems that the pearl of the Caucasus is no longer an insider tip.
Hungry and curious, we let ourselves be persuaded into a nice restaurant and sit at the table in a green inner courtyard away from tourists. Voted as the inventor of wine, we must of course try this original with a number of local dishes. Walnuts and eggplants always seem to have been high on the popularity list of Georgian housewives.
The starter in the “Abajuri” restaurant consists of aubergine with walnut paste and parsley and is called “Chvishtari“. There is also a warm salad with melted cheese and the main course is chicken in cheese, garlic and cream (chkmeruli). As a snack, we have cornbread filled with cheese and the local schnapps Chacha, which, like grappa, is made from what remains after the wine press. To say goodbye there is yogurt with honey and – of course – walnuts. Now we are no longer surprised why the Russians always raved about Georgian cuisine.
Before we go, a young Russian with whom we talk about Georgia speaks to us on the cue. He’s been here for a while and has some tips for us.
We explore the city and dive further into the globalization of the planet when we meet a German with her friend from Russia in a rock bar.
We see a lot of cars with German labels, there is German beer and Japanese cars with the wheel on the unfavorable right side.
We visit many of the Orthodox churches and sweat in the summer heat of autumn. In a cellar bar without a name we meet the couch surfer Tamuna, who tells us about hikes in Georgia over an excellent wine.
She gives us little hope for our plans in the mountains, because in her opinion, despite the heat here in Svaneti and the other valleys, the snow will be knee-deep. We are supposed to find out later in shorts and sleeves that the pretty young woman is only talking nonsense.
We met the couch surfer Ann the next day in her hostel, the Fabrika – an old industrial complex that has now become an impressive backdrop for young people to stay overnight. Ann shows us a fairytale-like quiet inner courtyard, which from the outside is not recognizable as a restaurant. There aren’t many people there, even if the space is there.
We sit in the shade of lemon trees and admire young graffiti in the vacant spaces of the paradisiacal garden. There she also introduces us to the ingenious cuisine of Georgia with a vegetarian bowl of various delicacies.
We take the cable car to the local mountain to celebrate the sunset in Georgian with a bottle of Chacha at the fortress. Next to the old walls there is a huge statue of a woman with a bowl and a sword looking towards the city. These objects are intended to symbolize the hospitality with which strangers are greeted with wine and the ability to defend themselves against enemies.
There is no entrance fee to the fortress, and you couldn’t expect any comfort. We climb a tower with hands and feet, over a well-intentioned railing and let our feet dangle over the abyss while we put the schnapps to our lips and the sun pours the city in gold.
We’ll soon be sharing our place and our chacha with a German, two Iranians and a large bottle of beer. We pose for a while in front of the picturesque abyss before Uli and I are back to ourselves. The young German named Jonas has been hitchhiking through Central Asia for months.
Since we happen to want to go in the same direction as him the next day, we invite him to visit us at our accommodation the next morning and drive with us.
Jonas is happy and leaves to pack his things while we enjoy the view over the city at night. When it gets dark we look for our headlamps from our pockets and climb down the crumbling walls.
We notice a staggering figure in front of us in the dark and catch up with it. The figure turns out to be a young woman who is sliding over the invisible rubble without light, but with a long skirt and extremely poor shoes.
Uli and I guide you with light and support to the safe street and start a conversation. Over a great Georgian wine, she reported that she is Israeli / Russian and violinist with the Israel Symphonic Orchestra and that she will be performing in Tbilisi in a few days. Janna invites us to be there, but we’ve had enough of cities … We want to be deep in nature in a few days. We exchange our contact details and hope to be able to hear and see them at a gig in the future.