Being a Tourist in Your Own City

I’ve talked a few times on this blog about the similarities and differences between this tour and the last, but one thing I haven’t touched on is how I’m trying to shape this experience in a different way than I did in Dushanbe. One thing I’m trying to do differently is take time out to experience Tbilisi the way a tourist might. I think this phenomenon is pretty universal: you live in a particular place, but never actually take the time to see the sights. I admittedly didn’t do a great job photographing Dushanbe, and I don’t want to make the same mistake in Tbilisi.

Last weekend Sean and I spent the night at Rooms Hotel, a funky downtown boutique hotel which is decorated in an urban-meets-cozy aesthetic. The building is meant to highlight the industrial splendor of its structure, and the rooms are designed to make travelers feel at home in the heart of downtown. We stayed here┬ámostly because we had a free Marriott night to use up, but partially because I’ve been dying to get downtown to photograph Old Tbilisi.

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When we say “Old Tbilisi” we are referring to the Tbilisi Historic District which is rich in architectural and urban value. It’s the touristy part of town, partly because a high concentration of attractions are located here – churches, museums, sulfur bathhouses, and peculiar wooden houses with open, carved balconies – but it’s also the “pretty” part of town that makes Tbilisi, well, Tbilisi.

We arrived in the east bank of the Kura River at twilight. I wanted to set up camp outside Metekhi Church of the Assumption because I knew it would offer an excellent vantage point for the photos I had in mind. I’m sure to onlookers we looked pretty nuts with our camera, full lens kit, tripod, and various other camera accessories. We took approximately 200 photos as the sun went down. It was a beautiful evening to just enjoy our city.

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After shooting, we decided to go out for dinner and drinks. Since we were staying downtown and our friends were looking in on the pups, it was a rare occasion that we didn’t need to rush home to deal with five hungry or annoyed animals. Sean and I have lived here for almost 10 months now, and this was one of the first and only times we’ve gone out on the town.

By “go out on the town” I mean get two drinks in the hotel bar and crash out around midnight. We’re getting old, people!

The next morning we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at a new breakfast bar not far from the hotel before heading home to our crazy animals. It was a lovely escape from our regular life, and I hope we manage to do this a few more times before leaving this stunningly beautiful city.

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