As I sit down to write this post, I can’t believe that almost a month has passed since we arrived in Tbilisi, on the train from Batumi. We rented the apartment we’re in now, on Airbnb, at the rate of $380.00, a month, for four months. Our hosts are two sisters, who are very nice and speak perfect English. One sister, Tamila, lives in the states, and the other sister Tanta, lives here, in Tbilisi with her family. Tanta and her father were kind enough to pick us up at the train station and bring us to the apartment. The apartment is on the 9th floor of an old communist style building. The building itself is in pretty rough shape, but the one bedroom, one bath, apartment, has been nicely renovated with laminate wood flooring, crown molding, a modern shower, and a new hot water tank. The living room has a sectional sofa, an area rug, and pretty lavender wallpaper. The bedroom has a comfortable, queen-size bed, a dresser, and a large wardrobe for storing clothes. We would have been happy here if the apartment hadn’t been so far from the city center. It takes an hour by bus, to go to the center, and the buses are often very crowded. It’s been difficult to even get to a grocery store from where we live, and though the bus stop is right out in front of our building, it just isn’t convenient to bring groceries back, especially when the buses are full and we have to stand. After about a week we had decided we had made a mistake in choosing an apartment that was so far away from everything. We wrote to our hosts and asked if they would cancel the booking, which they very kindly did.
We really do like Georgia, and in a couple of months, we plan on applying for residency. We wrote to a lawyer who informed us that getting residency here is possible if we were to incorporate a business. We’re still thinking about the type of business that we want to do, and since we already have an income that can sustain us here, we can take our time to choose something that we would enjoy. The possibilities are endless! First things first, though, we needed to find an apartment that we could rent long-term because once we have applied for residency, we can stay beyond the one year limit for non-residents.
We had found many apartments on a site called, Place.Ge, but every time we left our e-mail address for someone to contact us, they didn’t respond. We talked to a couple of real estate agents who were not very helpful, before finally deciding to buy a phone to contact the homeowners directly. We bought the phone and the sim card at the Tbilisi Mall, but when we returned to the apartment, we found that we couldn’t work the phone, and the instructions were in Georgian. It was back to the mall, where the young girl at the Beeline was able to change the instructions on the sim card to English, for us.
Once we were able to use our phone, we decided to expand our search to include houses in the Kakheti wine region of the country. We found a 3,500 square foot, traditional style house, in a city called Telavi, that from the pictures, looked like it might make a nice bed and breakfast. We contacted the owner who agreed to show us the house the following Monday. On the Sunday before the appointment, we took a minibus from our apartment to the metro station, then took the metro to the Isani Station, where we found a taxi to take us to Telavi, for 12 Lari, a piece, or $4.46. The trip was about 111 miles, through the Caucasian Mountains, and as we climbed higher, and the temperature began to drop, we had the pleasure of witnessing the beautiful fall foliage.
The taxi delivered us right to the door of Nik’s Guest House, where we were staying. Niki, our host spoke no English, but kindly showed us to our suite, and brought us a carafe of his homemade wine. After settling in at the guest house, we decided to explore the city and to find the house that we were going to view the next day. We found the street that the house was on, but when we couldn’t find the address, because the numbers were out of order, a young Ukrainian woman came out of her house to help us. Her English was very good and she led us to the house in no time. We were able to get a good look at the front of the house, but since there was a fence around it, with a locked gate, we would have to wait until the next day to view the whole property.
When we met the owner on Monday, and she showed us the house, we were a bit disappointed. The pictures that we had seen on the internet site were not reflective of the poor condition that the house was in. The owner told us that her grandparents had left the house to her and her sister, and they just didn’t have time to maintain it. She explained that it had been rented out to a number of people, and hadn’t been kept tidy. Our concern wasn’t so much the lack of housekeeping, as it was the water damage on the ceilings. Our other concerns and the reasons we decided not to rent the house were that it was located on a steep hill, too far outside of town, and it had only one bathroom, for the entire house. Since we had let go of the notion of living in Telavi and running a bed and breakfast, we spent the two days that we had left in the city, just exploring and having a good time.
The Giant Plane Tree
This tree is 900 years old, 46 meters high, and 3.6 meters in diameter.
The Batonis Tsikhe Fortress
The name in English is fortress of the master. It was built by King Archil, in the 17th century, and was the residence to Kakhetian kings in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The Palace of King Erekle
The king built this beautiful palace inside the fortress, in the second half of the 18th century.
Inside the Palace of King Erekle
We didn’t realize that the Islamic style building was King Erekle’s Palace until we went inside and saw his throne and his sword.
Hotel Wine Cellar
Wine-making originated in Georgia. The traditional method of making the wine by placing the juice from the grapes into clay pots, underground, is still used by this wine cellar, today.
Wine tasting on the Hotel Terrace
Here I am sampling some of their delicious wine.
The Bravo Restaurant
This is a great restaurant that serves scrumptious Georgian cuisine. For two days we ate both breakfast and dinner here.
View from Nadikvari Park
This young artist makes handmade jewelry. I stopped and bought a lovely pair of earrings from her.
When we got back from Telavi we decided to return to the Airbnb site to look for an apartment in Tbilisi. We wanted to be in a city where we’d have plenty of museums and culture. We thought if all went well with getting residency we could always ask the host if they’d be interested in renting the apartment to us for long-term. We rented an apartment for November 1st, that will cost us about $700 a month, including Airbnb fees, and utilities. It’s near a very popular street called, Rustaveli, Where the opera house and all the museums are located. Recently we went into Tbilisi to check out our new neighborhood, and to visit The Museum of Georgia and the flea market.
The museum is the oldest in Georgia and has collections covering the history of the country, from prehistoric times to the present day.
On one floor of the museum, we saw a moving display of photos and videos, dedicated to Georgian life, during the Soviet occupation from, 1921 to 1991.
One of my favorite displays in the museum was a temporary exhibit, of Asian art, featuring, china, glassware, and Japanese woodblocks on rice paper.