Destinations Magazine

How Do I Love Thee, Tbilisi? Let Me Count the Ways

By Periscope @periscopepost
How do I love thee, Tbilisi? Let me count the ways

Beautiful, strange Tbilisi. Photo credit: Gabrielle Jackson

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love how beautiful your city is, Tbilisi. I love the rickety lanes of the old town as well as the grand boulevards. I love your “new street”, reconstructed to show how you looked in your glory days. I love the art nouveau buildings, even the decrepit ones, and I love your Freedom Square. I love the wooden balconies and drain pipes that lead to nowhere. I love the Friendship Bridge, with its waved roof and cascading lights, even if people call it the ‘maxi pad’ bridge because, well, it does kind of look like one now that you’ve said it. I love the glass domes of the new parliament building and how it represents the transparency of Georgian government in the post-Soviet era.

I love how you value sculpture and art. I love walking down one of your many splendid hills and coming across a family made out of sheet iron, collecting water to take home. I love the bronze sculpture of the man fixing the street light and I love the grand piano, just sitting there, unplayable and huge. I love all your little statues and sculptures and how a new one surprises me every day.

I love all your cafes and how they let me sit in there for hours on end. I love acid, with books stuck to the wall, and I love Moulin Electric with its Parisian posters and cushions galore. I love that there are other people in the cafes, with their laptop or a book, just soaking it all up. I love that you have free wi-fi everywhere, even in the park.

I love your strange little parks with the men playing backgammon and women walking their dogs. I love the modernist fence on the one by Pour Pour.

I love Pour Pour, with its haphazard décor and tablecloths. I love the lamp shades, even the Ikea ones. I love your food and your wine and I love your live music.

How do I love thee, Tbilisi? Let me count the ways

Beans in clay pot with pickled vegetables and corn bread. Photo credit: Gabrielle Jackson

Tbilisi, I love your food. And even though I overdosed on your kachipuri (cheese pie), I will always go back for more. I love your veal stews and mushrooms in a clay pot. I love your sheep’s cheese and Sulguni cheese and that other cheese we got in the village that I don’t know the name of. I love your beans cooked in a clay pot with their depth of flavor and fresh spices. I love your pumpkin soup and broccoli soup and soup charlo. And I love your bread to eat it with. I still love your kinkhali (dumplings) even though that day when I ordered two and got 10 I thought I may never be able to look at one again.

I love your wine. I love the Mtsvane white wine and I love the Saperavi red, even though they have both led to quite hazy following days. I love that you have over 500 grape varieties and none of them are grown elsewhere. I love that you bury your wine in clay pots and thumb your nose at oak barrels. I love that you say Noah started the wine industry in Georgia after getting off the ark.

I love your crazy marionette theater and the poetry of its shows. Rezo Gabriadze has told me more about life in Soviet times through his puppets than any book I’ve read or any person I’ve spoken to. He’s a genius and he belongs to Tbilisi.

I love your Old Town Hostel, with its mix of crazy and norm. I love that I’m not the only one who came for a little visit and stayed for much, much longer. I love that it’s more a home than a hostel. I love the people who work there, who care, who laugh, who help and who can deal with the nutters with such calmness and grace. Where else could I meet such beautiful people, Tbilisi?

And that’s why, most of all, I love your people: because of them, because of Giorgi, Ninia, Tina, Nina and David. I love your kind, generous, beautiful people. I love the women with their long hair and skinny legs, even though I cannot imagine how they walk through the cobbled lanes in those high heels. I love your tall, handsome men with their black stubble and suspicious eyes.

For all these reasons, you kept me here for three weeks instead of three days and I didn’t even notice the time pass. That means love to me.

Tbilisi, I’ll be back.

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