So moving on, there’s much more I want to share with you!
We decided it was time to explore the wine country, a bit outside of Tbilisi. Of course I was VERY nervous to have my baby in a car seat for 2 hours in a cab, but I mustered the courage and knock on wood, she was a dream. Slept through the entire journey until we reached Sighnahgi. We looked around the day before for wine tours and were quoted an amount of 300 or so dollars. We then ended up bumping into a cabbie, who was driving a mini-van, Elia, who agreed to take us there for much much less! Imagine. For the entire day, he was with us, even helped with the stroller etc. for a very nominal amount.
Sighnahgi is a beautiful little town, with cobbled streets and weave up and down, flanked with tiny houses and old ladies selling handmade woolen shoes and clothes. It’s visibly a laid-back slow town, and very serene. We walked up and down, baby again in a sling. I had to lather her with sunscreen because it was very hot and sunny and the stroller was too heavy to push around.
We found our way to a restaurant called Solomani, above a hotel, close to the town center but it was awful. The lady was adamant not to serve us and we were so disgusted by this lack of hospitality, we just left and BOY are we glad we did. Then we somehow found our way to Pheasant’s Tears, a vineyard and restaurant. Small tables, grape vines adorning the little garden and a quaint looking bar, this was the absolute highlight of our trip.
As soon as we walked in, Gia, the chef, ran out and apologetically told us he was expecting a large party and couldnt accommodate us. We requested him and he was kind enough to accept us with one caveat; that he would cook us whatever he could quickly cook up. And, I cannot tell you how glad we would be to accept his offer. The food was DIVINE. First, he served us with a variety of salads and cheese. There was eggplant salad and greens and a yummy beetroot concoction. Next came this delicious chicken in plum sauce that was scrumptious. Chef Gia won our hearts that day, and if you’re ever in the area, please don’t even think twice about checking this place out.
Finally, it was time to head home and we lowered the windows, put baby back in her car seat and we off.
There’s quite a few sights that pop up in you Google ‘Sightseeing in Tbilisi’ and of course, I never leave a city without seeing them all. So we called up our reliable driver Elia again, and we bundled up into the car to go explore all these sights. We started with Turtle Lake. It’s a beautiful serene location and we had coffee with a view of the lake. Next stop was Vake Park. Beautifully manicured gardens with an interesting center area. It’s a beautiful place for walks and we saw lots of strollers here (surprisingly didn’t see a lot of babies in Tbilisi). We took some pictures there and then had yummy soft cones before heading out to our next stop. I was hunting for Prosperos books, an English book store. But somehow we found ourselves to the top of a mountain which had a theme park! Yes, roller coasters and all. It had some beautiful views as well as a funicular which we rode on just to see the view. It’s a long walk but there are a lot of stairs so the stroller isn’t the best option.
The funicular ride is so worth it. You see red and beige rooftops, low rise beautiful buildings and the cityscape.
Unless you plan to ride the rides, I suggest seeing all these places in one day. It’s easily doable.
Next we were on our way to Properos books. We actually ended up at the one of Rustaveli ave which is the original and larger one. The selection of books was so-so but it was interesting to sit there for a coffee and to relax. It’s hidden away from the street so if you’re looking for it, keep your eyes peeled. There is soft cone lady that sits outside, so do grab a cone (yes I am ice cream obsessed!).
We ended up getting food from Machakhela again. It’s just so delish!
We kept this as a free to explore/shopping trip but I wish we hadn’t. The shopping isn’t great and the prices match Dubai ones. We then wanted to go explore the area around Vake Park. It’s called Vera & Vake because both those streets intersect here. It’s a beautiful area, very high end and reminiscent of Manhattan and the posh parts of London. We ended up at Tokyo, the city’s best sushi joint. The sushi was average (I know why would we eat Japanese in a Georgian city but oh well). But then, the highlight of the day…RAIN! Just as we were leaving! So we ran into Cafe Canape next door, which is very very average for desserts and coffee (don’t both eating here). But it was lovely to enjoy the downpour and I think the baby enjoyed it too!
At night we ate Elvis Burger, which was surprising yummy! Georgians are too into the fast food concept, which is great, but this burger was amazing. And then it was time to turn in to catch our very early flight back!
Tbilisi is a very underrated city. I remember when I told people we were going to Georgia, and that also with a baby, people’s reactions were…’but WHY?’ And I thought the same thing at points too. But once I made it here, I must say, I will definitely be going back! It’s cheap (don’t pay more than 5 Lari for taxis up and down the city) and the food is delicious. The people are very helpful but there is a huge language barrier, so polish your dumb charade skills.
The city isn’t very baby friendly since it doesn’t have ramps for the strollers or baby-changing areas in restaurants, but overall people are so kind when they see you with a baby. Everyone stopped to say hi to her and help in any which way they could. The terrain is also a bit tricky, so make sure you keep that sling/baby carrier with you.
So, if you are ever looking for an exciting place that is yet to find itself on the tourism map, check out Georgia. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!