The Maidan or old town of Tbilisi is huddled between the Mtkvari River and the Narikala Citadel. Old buildings here are being reborn as small, characterful boutique hotels. Old Tiflis, which I love, is one of them.
It was late at night when I reach Old Tiflis. My room is on the third floor. The lift works. It is neat and modern and comfortable. There isn’t much of a view but from the roof top terrace where two pretty girls, full of smiles, serve breakfast – fresh fruit, sour yogurt, honey, crumbly and salty Georgian cheese, obligatory cucumbers and huge tomatoes, freshly baked traditional Georgian bread and good Georgian tea, the view is magnificent. Narikala castle to one side dwarfs you and on the other, Metekhi church sits on its little crag. The old underground sulphur bath houses with their rows of brick domes are right next door and the striking 17th century Orbeliani bath with two minarets and a facade of bright blue tiles is across the gorge in front of you. A plaque proclaims that Alexander Pushkin visited it in 1829. It no longer is functional but the others offer a sauna, soak and scrub for about 20 Lari (£10).
The Old Tiflis is surrounded by brightly painted old houses with pretty wooden balconies.
Everything is within walking distance – cafes, restaurants, shops and wine bars.
Past the Orbeliani baths and across a bridge, a path along the gorge takes you to a waterfall! It is cool and shady and birds sing and butterflies flutter. Houses cling to the hillside. It is serene and peaceful and hard to imagine that you are in the centre of a capital city.
A short distance away, over the domes of the bath houses and across the Mtkvari River, the 13th century Metekhi Church glistens on its hill top perch. That’s where I am heading next.