ARRIVE AT TBILISI’S
INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT during the tourist season (there are direct flights from Gatwick on Georgian Airways) and, if you’re lucky, you’ll be handed a bottle of the local plonk. Billboards, meanwhile, welcome you with the message: “The city that loves you.”
This is just the start of a charm offensive designed to lure tourists to the Georgian capital. Other attractions include the smorgasbord of architecture, ranging from crumbling art nouveau to Soviet-era brutalism. Then there’s a vibrant electronic music scene (though there were demonstrations in May after a crackdown on clubs) and a cuisine that includes khinkali dumplings.
Head up to the Narikala fortress which dates back to the fourth century and offers great views across the city. Down below you can get around on the Metro where you’ll see beautifully decorated stations.
Need more encouragement? Russian writer Boris Pasternak called this city “a chimera; a fanciful beast with a Western head and an Eastern body”.