The old woman stood at the door with her plastic bucket full of sorry looking figs. “Give me a Lari for the lot” she pleaded
There isn’t much to see and do in Telavi. Half a day would be ample for a quick look, specially if you spent the previous night in the city.
Start at the city market – it is colourful and buzzing. There is a car park across the street. Steep steps take you down the bowels of the market and isles spread out in both directions with little stalls packed with fresh produce and spices. The spice mix for sprinkling on boiled potatoes sold here is a great buy for one Lari and makes any ordinary potato dish stand up and be noticed!
PS. Yes, we bought the bucket of figs from the old lady and I am sure Tamara gave her more than one Lari.
Walk up the street past second hand book shops back to the car park and take the short drive to Freedom Square and the massive statue symbolising the wine harvest and on to the Batonistsikhe Citadel and the palace of King Irakli 11.
The palace is only a modest two story building in the Persian style built in the 1750s and sits in its own flower filled garden. Usually it is possible to visit the citadel and palace but the day I was there, the sulking guards refused to let us in.
Beyond the east gate of the citadel, an equestrian statue of King Irakli stands guard, gazing over the immense Alazani Valley. At the edge of the little square is a huge plane tree said to be over 800 years old. It is a pleasant spot to sit and contemplate the Alazani Valley stretching all the way to the Greater Caucasus mountains.
A little brewery sits beyond the plane tree. It was almost lunch time when I got there but the tables and chairs on the terrace were empty. A smiling young woman came out and offered to pour me a beer. It was very tempting but I had to get to Napareuli to taste at the Twins Wine Cellar.
- TELAVI is the principal city of Kakheti, the eastern region of Georgia
- LARI is the Georgian currency. One Sterling pound is about three Lari