“Old pho­to­graphs are scat­tered amid cam­eras, leather belts, and chipped crys­tal de­canters”

Emirates Man - - STYLE TRAVEL -

woman anked by two sol­diers rests against the tree’s base, ringed by vin­tage por­ta­ble record play­ers, a clas­sic di­alup tele­phone and an ac­cor­dion in a scuffed black box. Not far away, stacks of vinyl records face out­wards to­wards the pass­ing crowds. Many are English or Amer­i­can but there are popular Ge­or­gian artists too, as well as a col­lec­tion of Ge­or­gian church songs by the Rus­tavi En­sem­ble, which I pick up for less than the price of a cup of tea. I buy a that ra­di­ate out from Free­dom Square, a hop, skip and a jump from our ho­tel. Pushkin was much taken by the sul­phur baths that the city is renowned for, writ­ing in 1829 that “never be­fore have I seen, nei­ther in Rus­sia nor in Turkey, any­thing that can sur­pass the magni cent baths of Ti is”. His con­tem­po­rary, the Rus­sian ro­man­tic poet Mikhail Ler­mon­tov, made Tbil­isi his home in 1837, although his house in Gu­di­ashvili Square, as pre­vi­ously men­tioned, was knocked down in 2012.

It’s heat­ing up as we head back to the vicin­ity of Ba­bilina, down a set of wind­ing steps to the Gabri­adze Theatre, its ad­ja­cent café, and midafter­noon lethargy. There’s a crooked clock tower atop the theatre, an an­gel strikes the hour, the cir­cle of life is reen­acted, and we dis­cuss the city’s cos­mopoli­tan mix of Ge­or­gians, Ar­me­ni­ans, Az­eris and Rus­sians over a plate of ke­babs. We cross to the left bank of the Mtk­vari River via the bow-shaped Bridge Of Peace, be­fore tak­ing a ca­ble car to the top of Solo­laki hill. The Narikala Fortress is in­ac­ces­si­ble, as its Ge­or­gian name sug­gests, and Mother Ge­or­gia looks bet­ter from a dis­tance, but the views across

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