Tbilisi: The Capital With Many Lives

• The stroll on Chardin Street led us soon to the Sioni Cathedral, a historic building, much of which dates from the 11th

An impressive set of frescoes seen in the medieval Sioni Cathedral in Tbilisi’s Old Town.

century, with remarkable frescoes on its interior walls.

It is considered one of the most important churches in the capital. We had to take our photos of the frescoes from the porch outside, i.e., not inside the sanctuary.

• In Tbilisi, we frequently drove past examples of dramatically modern structures, including the new Public Service Hall, built to allow citizens to do much of their business with the government in one place. Similar modern multipurpose government service centers are being opened in cities all over the country.

• Our itinerary included an afternoon sightseeing journey to the nearby Mtskheta, described as a museum town. Click here

The new modern building that houses Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs in Tbilisi.

for my report on that excursion.

As to other observations on a very short visit:

Traditional Georgian dancing is characterized by, among other things, sessions during which the men dance on their toes as seen here.

We noted several beggars in Tbilisi. Times are still tough for some Georgians, more than two decades after the split from the Soviet Union produced a major economic slump. Older Georgians regard the Soviet era as the good old days.

Also, the cultures of customer service and Soviet service live side by side.

Local currency is called the lari. I wanted to break a 50-lari note into smaller bills. Holiday Inn’s on-site bank, the Bank of Georgia, claimed to be open 24 hours a day.

When I dropped in at 7:35 a.m., I was told to wait until 9 a.m. because the bank was in the midst of a change of shift. Why does it take nearly one and a half hours to change shifts?

At the hotel’s front desk, which provides no banking services, I complained that the bank’s ridiculous claims. A young hotel clerk pulled the change out of his own pocket and broke the bill for me.

A modern Tbilisi building, dating from the Soviet era, that has been called one of the world’s weirdest buildings.

The article and photos are by Nadine Godwin, the author of Travia: The Ultimate Book of Travel Trivia, which was published by The Intrepid Traveler.

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