"My soul is elsewhere, I'm sure of that. And I intend to end up there." -- Rumi

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Yes yes... I have done one measly day out of 26 for my Okinawa vacay.  But old news will stay old news, and I wanted to let you know about a couple Tbilisi experiences I've had recently that I highly recommend!

First, I had a very excellent afternoon and evening earlier this week, bar-hopping with my good friend and super human being David One.  We had lunch at Ronny's Pizza, in Saburtalo near the Medical University metro stop.  Highly recommended!  It is actually run by an American couple, so the pizza is the way it should be and not all weird and covered in mayo like most Georgian pizza.  After lunch, David and I found ourselves at the American-themed expat bar Buffalo Bill's -- that place is freaking EXPENSIVE when you're not on a hedonistic, "this is my summer vacation, what the hell" kick.  Left after one drink... even their cheapest beer was eight lari!!

American flag in the background.  Represent.
Next we found ourselves at a Georgian place that unfortunately I did not get the name of, but it is directly across the street from the Rustaveli metro and has a giant barrel surrounding the door, so easy to find.  Another place I recommend wholeheartedly.  Extensive menu, friendly staff, really cute rustic wood decor, and their beer was only two lari.  That is more like it.

David doesn't like beer so I had to help him with that bottle of vodka.  What are friends for?
We left the Georgian place and wandered down Rustaveli... and passed the Tbilisi Pantomime Theatre.  They had a show starting in seven minutes, and the tickets were only 5.50 lari each!  Seriously check these guys out!  Their show was completely entertaining, and of course mime means that not knowing the language was not a barrier in the slightest.  It's a tiny theatre so pretty much any seat is a good seat, and the show lasts a little over an hour, which is a plus if you happen to have a small bladder and have been drinking all afternoon.

Back out on the street, we commenced our wanderings once again, and once again didn't get far.  Stopped into another Georgian place (no name again, sorry) that had very upscale decor and friendly staff that spoke good English.  David and I shared a bottle of Georgian champagne.  I am such a pushover for wine with tiny bubbles.

Later in the evening I got a surprise, and David Two joined us along with David One's friend Mary.  So... two Davids and two Marys.  Kewl.  Good conversation and general hanging out... it was David Two's last night in Tbilisi before he headed home, so I was really happy I got the chance to say goodbye.

THEN... a few days ago my friend Pauli got back from her trip home, and at her suggestion we fought off Tbilisi's ridiculous winter chill by visiting the Tbilisi Sulphur Baths!

There are several options for sulphur baths, all right next to each other.  We chose this one, with the blue mosaic entrance.  Private baths are all located on the bottom level -- the nice lady at the front desk spoke English and let us check the place out before we plunked down our cash.  A "small cabin" (totally fine for two and probably three or even four) was 20 lari each, per person.  Not bad.  We also decided we wanted a 'massage', which is more exfoliation and then a scrubbing, and that was quoted to us as being an additional 10 lari each.  (This ended up be 14 instead of ten -- not sure if we got the Foreigners Markup or if there was some service that the desk lady forgot to include, but whatever.)  I bought a big bottle of beer for four lari, and that brought the entire experience to 38 lari for one hour.  So... maybe a little pricey, but of course you can get that down by losing the beer and the scrubbing.  I will say that both of those greatly added to the experience, however.  (Even if beer may not be your thing, I DO really recommend bringing a bottle of water or something.  You'll be glad you did.  It is hot in there.)

This is the inner room of our Small Cabin.  You can see how much steam is in the air!  The outer room had a small table where we left our clothes.  Oh yeah... this makes the third country in a row where I have gotten naked in front of friends and strangers. :)  The pool is a very hot bath about four feet deep... natural sulphur-infused water continually seeps up through cracks in the rocks.  There's a drain near the top of the pool, so the water is continually being refreshed which is good.  The marble slab is where we got our Georgian Lady Scrubbing.  To the left are two shower spigots where we rinsed off before getting back in the tub for soaking.

I would totally do this again... even by myself.  20 lari to soak in a steamy hot tub for an hour seems like a bargain, especially since this Tbilisi winter is apparently much colder than normal!  Lucky me.

I'm really happy that I'm starting to get to experience more of what is uniquely Tbilisi.  The weather has been such shite that spending time outside is really more like a punishment than anything else.  But having such a good time at the Pantomime Theatre, I'm even more motivated to see Tbilisi's Puppet Theatre and maybe another Georgian opera.  There are a few museums I haven't checked out yet as well...

I'm hoping to take a weekend trip to Gori and the cave city of Uplistsikhe in early February once I get paid again.  Tbilisians, let me know if this strikes your fancy -- the departure of Mark and Julie (miss them!!) means I am in the market for new excellent travel companions.

And I can't forget that it's getting really quite close to that time when I'm going to have to decide what I want to do next....

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