Georgia Part 2 : Tbilisi

The second part of our trip to Georgia was a flying visit through Tbilsi! We left Gudauri at around 1pm and our taxi drove us through the mountainous terrain back down into the city. When we arrived in the city centre, the first thing that caught my eye was the quaint cobbled paths and the charming coffee shops located above street level on the terraces. Our poor taxi driver hadn’t been given clear directions to our hotel and didn’t speak a word of English! We were just as useless with only having the hotel address written in English! One thing I would advise is to screenshot a copy of the hotel’s address in the local language – this is a tip we picked up when visiting Asian countries as it makes the taxi journeys much easier!

After driving around the cobbles for a short while we found our hotel – to the delight of all in the car! We stayed at No.12 Boutique Hotel and it was just lovely. The hotel was located down a side alley but was well lit and had several hidden coffee shops / bars on the short walk to the hotel. The staff were very welcoming upon arrival and showed us straight to our room. When searching for hotels online, this one really caught my eye because I loved the homely vibe, the décor was so quirky and felt very cosy. Our room was perfect for our needs for the one night and we literally dumped our belongings and headed out to explore.

Before heading to Tbilisi, I had done a bit of research online and the one place that I was set on visiting was Abanotubani, an ancient district of unique thermal baths within the city. On route, we stopped for a coffee (Ryan had a wine – both priced the same!) I had pointed out one of the terrace cafes and was happy to get a seat outside on the balcony. I love people watching and although we were only sat there for a short time whilst eating khatchupuri and cake we saw so much life in just a small part of this city!

After, we walked to find Abanotubani and this is where I really felt the life of this city shine through. I could feel the mix of history and culture with the European city feel coming through from the architecture, but also a Turkish / Arabic influence from the colourful buildings. After forcing Ryan to hold a mini photoshoot for me, we carried on wandering around the thermal baths. We found a lovely hidden waterfall, Waterfall Leghvtakhevi, hidden within the remains of the old city walls which was a delightful surprise.

In the evening, we went for dinner at Orshimo, a quaint Piano Wine Bar just a short distance from our hotel. The waiters were clearly very passionate about their wine and we got to try some of the great unfiltered Georgian red wine. The food was excellent Ryan had river trout, and I had fried pork and potatoes, followed by the most amazing chocolate brownie cake and ice-cream (I had clearly given up on my diet by this point!) During the meal, a pianist was beautifully playing a range of songs but my night was made as soon as he started playing Robbie Williams, She’s the One. After we had finished our desert, we headed outside onto the small terrace which had only two tables set out. The waiters brought us a blanket each and we finished our wine, looking out over the street below. We could also see the castle on the hill (cue Ed Sheeran singing) and it was a wonderful way to end the evening, and our trip to Georgia.

Before flying back to Dubai on our final day, we had breakfast at the hotel, which I must say was AMAZING. The ‘restaurant’ was nothing more than a kitchen you would find in a regular home, with cute farmhouse style cupboards and two ladies cooking the food fresh! At the back of the room was a selection of pastries, toast and fruit and on the chalkboard listed any items you could order, freshly made. I ordered scrambled eggs and porridge, both were cooked fresh and brought straight over to me! I can’t say the breakfast was the highlight of the trip, but it wasn’t far off!

We went and sat out in one of the coffee shops for a while before heading back to the airport to finish off our trip. I guess the only downside of Tbilisi was the airport itself which had only one restaurant and allowed people to smoke!

We definitely did not spend enough time in Tbilisi, or in Georgia as a whole so I would love to return for a summer visit. If anyone has any recommendations of sightseeing / city breaks in Georgia, please feel free to comment!

Georgia Part 1 : Gudauri

My partner and I have just returned from our first trip to the beautiful country that is Georgia. We spent 2 nights in Gudauri for a skiing trip and one night in Tbilisi Old City. We experienced so much that I am going to write a separate blog about Tbilisi city.

The flight from Dubai took just 3.5 hours, in that short period of time we moved from 25 degrees to -9! We always do these killer night flights and during it we always regret the decision! But we arrived in Tbilisi at 4.30am and our driver was ready and waiting for us for the 2.5hour drive up the mountains. We slept almost the entire car journey and arrived along a bumpy path up to the hotel. We stayed at Hotel Carpe Diem which was a ski out hotel and thank our lucky stars that we were able to pay for an earlier check in so we could get in bed for a few hours when we arrived at 7am! When we woke up at 9am and opened the curtains I was so excited to see so much snow! Usually when it snows in England you worry about all of the inconvenience it’s going to cause. Not here! We are still trying to be relatively healthy so stuck with eggs and porridge for breakfast, although I did treat myself to French toast and bacon a few days!

The first day of skiing I felt excited but nervous. We rented boots, poles and helmets which came to GEL 305 (AED 452 / £88) for two of us for three days! then paid GEL 240 for two 3 day ski passes (AED 356 / £69) and we were good to go! I don’t have much to compare this to as I have only ever been on one previous ski trip with the school but I was amazed at the price! I had taken four lessons at Ski Dubai (Mall of the Emirates) before our trip which were great for teaching me the basics!

On our first day, we skied from 10am until 4pm with a break for lunch in between! Unlike the large ski resorts in Europe, Gudauri was much quieter on the Apres Ski front but you could still buy wine / beer and khachapuri (traditional bread with cheese) up the mountain so we were more than happy.

I felt like I skied well for the most part of the day but lost my confidence and snow ploughed my way down for the final half an hour! Dinner was included with our hotel package and even though it was buffet we had a lovely selection and bought some of the local wine (which went down far too easily)!

On our second day we had another full 6 hours of skiing although I had a tumble on the first slope so had to stop for a coffee break to sort myself out before we went up again! Ryan was so amazing the whole time we were skiing, I was worried about holding him back because he is a great skier and very confident. But he pushed me outside of my comfort zone which allowed me to experience so much more and really boosted my confidence on the slopes. We decided to eat outside of the hotel on our second night as we had found a restaurant called Power Bar Gudauri. The restaurant offered a taxi service for GEL5 (AED 7.5 / £1.5) which was much more appealing than the 20 minute mountainous walk! Ryan was happy with the craft beer and I was more than happy with the local wine – so happy that by the end of the night we had 13 on our bill! The food was amazing but the highlight of the evening was the owners two cocker spaniels! The friendliest dogs ever and one even sat on my lap after we had finished eating so I was dog-stroking with my left hand and wine-drinking with my right!

Saturday was our final day in Guduari so Ryan got up to ski the black slopes. I was more than happy to stay in bed and nurse my slight hangover from the red wine! Our transfer collected us at 1pm and drove us to Tbilisi city. It was lovely to do the drive in the day time as the mountain range was even more beautiful to drive through in the day. We passed through several small villages and followed a stream for, what felt like miles!

We were so pleasantly surprised with our short stay in Gudauri, the food was amazing, the wine was even better and the people were all very friendly. Although we found barely anyone spoke English which proved a struggle at times but we got there in the end! We would definitely recommend staying at Hotel Carpe Diem as it was cosy with spacious rooms, a modern bathroom and relatively cheap considering it included breakfast and dinner!

I will write separately about our stay in Tbilisi. Georgia really is a beautiful country with so much to offer, I can’t wait to go back!