I’ve always wondered how it feels touching my first snow, or wearing my winter boots and gloves, or sitting by the fireplace. Georgia has all these and more, so I and my four other friends decided on a budget travel located on the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe.
There was no other way to save our numbered restdays but to leave the work early and head to Muscat International Airport to catch our flight at 10:40AM. We reached Dubai minutes short lunch time and left for Tbilisi at around 01:00PM. I thought I could brave the colder-than-dead temperature with just my t-shirt and shorts on but I regret it. I just looked foolish to everyone in the airport bus. We met our tourguide on the arrival area who then led us to a sumptuous, authentic Georgian meal on a cozy resto in the heart of Tbilisi.
Our guide brought us to our home for the next few days. But instead of succumbing to exhaustion and the sudden drop of temperature, we excitedly donned our winter ootd’s and explored everything in Tbilisi that our feet could reach.
Further leisure walk led us to some significant sights we accidentally learned.
The Presidential Administration is the executive body of administration of President of Georgia. The palace is located on the left bank of the Kura River, in the Avlabari district of Tbilisi.
The Bridge of Peace is a bow-shaped pedestrian bridge, a steal and glass construction over the Kura River in downtown Tbilisi. This bridge boasts its impeccable geometric design and use of LED’s to illuminate the whole stretch. It connects the Old Tbilisi from the New, which is probably why it was named that way.
With our feet freezing and our stomach churning, we walked down one alley and tried sushi and some soup in Samurai Sushi Bar. The food was delicious and only cost us some dimes. After filling our mouth came the the highlight of the night – clubbing!
We tried Phoenix Club and Lounge and boy the nightlife boils here! The place was just right but the people – club goers and Staffs included – were fun and carefree. Drinks were right for your money too. Hitting the dance floor was a thing of the past for me but there’s no way we could have resisted an outrageous crowd!
A little past midnight, we went home tipsy but pleased with how Tbilisi unleashed the sleeping dancer in us 🙂
Snow-filled activities were our sole motivation for the need to wake early. Our guide fetched us around 08:30AM for our trip to the snowing mountains! We passed and dropped by several local attractions on our way to Gudauri.
Next stop was a historical spot known for numerous battles. Ananuri Fortress consists of two castles joined by a curtain wall with provisions for battlements. The upper fortification with a large square tower is Sheupovari, which is well preserved while the lower fortification, with a round tower, is mostly in ruins. Within the complex are two churches: The older Church of the Virgin, which is a tall square tower and the larger Church of the Assumption (Ghvtismshobeli), a central dome style structure with richly decorated facades.
We also stopped by a mountain full of snow and a beautiful river perfect for taking landscapes.
After several quick-stops for pictures, bladder or food, we eventually reached our destination – Gudauri. Hailed as the best ski resort in Georgia due to its challenging slopes and avalanche-safe ranges, this place is a powder-white heaven snow! The resort is complete with amenities for long stay, learning ski, cable car (non-operating that time) and some pubs too. Some locals claimed snow would reach tree high during winter.
We lost track of time and noticed it’s almost dusk so we headed a 5-hour drive back to Tbilisi to get some decent dinner. We passed by few important places in the heart of the metro while looking for some place to eat.
Freedom Square, located at the eastern Rustaveli Square in Tbilisi, has been a site of various people power demonstrations including the Georgia’s eventual independence from the Soviet Union.
We came across this decent dine named Samakitno Tavisufleba in Rustaveli Avenue and couldn’t believe how the food was next to perfection. We ordered a variety of viands to quench our hunger from a tiring trip back and forth the mountain.
Walking around was our sole way to metabolize a huge dinner. From walking we came across a sulfur bathhouse and decided we should just try it.
Another long drive awaited us as we were about to embark on a selfish wine tasting experience in Kvareli, Georgia! Winery Khareba, a company responsible for production of wine in the whole Georgia and parts of Europe, produces wine from the harvest gathered from its own vineyards by using ancient conventional methods and modern technologies. Their wines are being aged and cared for in Kvareli, in the unending 7,5 km long wine keeping tunnel in Georgia. But before heading directly, we first stopped on an isolated monastery complex with overlooking plain.
And next came all things WINE!
And here’s a view outside the wine tunnel that we surely loved.
Last on our list was the Turtle Lake, a small lake at the outskirts of Tbilisi perceived to have abundance of turtles living in the area, hence the name. It is designed as a recreational area for the locals and tourists alike. The lake was so serene you would wish to live there forever. Adding to the drama is the imposing snow-capped mountains to the north, making the place relaxing, adventurous and romantic – all in one.
We shared a dinner table in Kvareli Lake Resort and Spa and returned to metro Tbilisi past 10:00PM.
Packing up our luggage was the heaviest thing to do, literally and figuratively. We kissed Georgia goodbye before dawn and returned home in Muscat late in the afternoon. My first winter may have been momentary, but it carved really deep for the rest of my life.