My Blog List

Sunday, October 30, 2011


I am in Budapest on a study session on social inclusion and though I plan to write a post, I don't have much free time, so sorry dear readers, I will produce something soon!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Batumi to Bodrum: from Sea to Shiny Sea

Dear friends,
this week, instead of writing a new post here, I want to share my new post on my PIK TV blog. It is Called Batumi to Bodrum: from Sea to Shiny Sea.
Here is the opening paragraph:
"Batumi will never be a good sea resort. Achara is the rainiest part of Georgia, Black sea is called black for a reason (it’s dirty), the service is never up to par, the beach territory is small, and the infrastructure is like a Crumple-Horned Snorkack—it does not exist.

No matter how hard we try, no matter how many shiny buildings we build, how many blooming palms we import, and how many Enriques we give out for free, if it rains on you in your bikini, you won’t be happy."
For more, please check out other blog:
And thank you, last month I got 425 previews on my PIK post: The Curse of the Ancestors: Thou Shalt Die of Boredom and Supras! I am sure you contributed to many of those previews!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Food for Thought

The fall colors and yellow leaves in the streets brushed some sweet melancholia on me and yesterday I caught myself in love with Tbilisi. I was just sitting in marshrutka, taking in the fall and smiling.
Well, for one, yesterday I was able to do something I wouldn’t be able to do several years ago—I went on a car ride to my country house and I got coffee and a chocolate croissant to go. There is nothing better than sitting in a warm car with hot coffee and tasty pastry, looking outside at the yellow fields and raindrops chasing each other on the car window.
Several years ago, McDonald’s was the only place offering coffee to go. In fact, that was almost the only option for eating non-Georgian meal. Now, slow culinary progress is tiptoeing in Tbilisi, sprinkling its goodies here and there.
Let’s see, there is your average American pizza in Ronny’s, with real mozzarella on it (Ronny’s pretty expensive, around 20 lari on average for a pie), there is Pasta and Pizza Fantastico (Regular prices 10-15 Lari), recommended by my Peace Corp friends, serving thin-crust pizza, it’s fine, once you get over cafe's pink interior. Preggo pretty much serves the same average pizza it served all these years when it was the only acceptable pizzeria in Tbilisi; I won’t refuse Preggo pizza if I’m hungry, but I won’t go looking for it.
We also have bunch of very nice restaurants on Barnovi street, still out of reach for us mere mortals ( except for anniversaries and an occasional dessert), but they do serve much better versions of foreign entrees than regular, mayonnaise-happy places. So, if you have 30-60 (or more, depending on wine, desert, etc)Lari to spend on a dinner, try Buffet (Italian), Vong (Asian Fusion), Belle de Jour (French), and Sakura (Japanese). They are located side by side and serve what seems wonderful to my starved, khinhali-filled palette. The fact that we have such thing as “Asian fusion” is a success indicator for me. Also, cafe Tartine offers tasty baked tartines and home-made lemonade (actual lemons,not tarragon!). That’s not all Barnovi restoraunts, of course, but I haven’t been to other restaurants there yet—didn’t have time or money; some, in case of “Kanape”, are standard Georgian café pretending to be something else.
I’ve noticed a Thai restaurant behind opera, definitely interested to try.
As for Chinese, I don’t really see any difference between several of them, though I tend to visit “Two” by the old City Hall (the one behind St. George on a horse), which serves Italian and Chinese cuisine.
I am absolutely in love with “Little India”on Kandelaki! They have spicy lamb dishes!
If I crave a burger, Elvis is the best option.
And finally, no matter where I go, I end up having tea and pastry at Entrée and though it is not the best bakery I’ve seen, it one of its kind in Tbilisi (meaning no other bakeries/coffee shops exist here) and being addicted to baked goods, I can’t see myself surviving without a decent Danish.
All in all, Tbilisi restaurant scene is definitely more diverse now, though most of my favorite places are either very expensive or insanely expensive, so most of the time, I either have to eat Georgian food, or cook myself.
Pic: I wanted really small dish with huge utensils, but couldn't find anything smaller in my house :-(

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Sea, Sand and Sun

Every time I’m flying back to Georgia, I become unusually anti-social, I sit outside the gate and pretend I am not Georgian. Last weekend, when I was flying from Turkey, I realized that I am unfair to my fellow passengers—they are as loud and as obnoxious, as any other travelers. I just resent coming back and they are part of home that I try to ignore, prolonging my last minutes abroad.
I like my life in Tbilisi and I am pretty fortunate to have a nice home, hubby and cat. But when I get out, I get used to little things that we lack here. Of course, I go as a tourist, I see the best of the country, I relax, I eat good food and do fun stuff and thus returning would be hard anyway, no matter where I’d live. But it is harder, when a country has so little to offer to comfort you.
I just spend a week on Aegean shore. I lived in a clean room, with white towels and comfortable beds, shower and a bathroom––with lukewarm water, but whatever. We had a spectacular view. We had an open buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner. Our all--inclusive hotel provided free drinks. And it did not cost much. In fact, if you take away travelling expanses, it is cheaper to stay in Turkey than in Batumi.
Anyway, usually we skipped the pool and went to the sea, blue, clear, transparent sea! And Bodrum is not Batumi, so we got a free beach bed, I starfished on it, put my face in the sun and listened to the waves… and among the idyllic surroundings… breasts. Elderly German and English ladies sunbathed topless and my hubby declared: “some things you can’t un-see” .He was haunted by their sight most of our beach time.
People were very nice, service was excellent, we got lots of deals. Tourism in Turkey is thriving, tourist agencies compete with each other, they try to offer costumers better deals. For example, we purchased a trip to Pamukkale (beautiful place with natural white pools of blue water and ancient city with ruins) and the travel agency sent us to Turkish bath for free and gave us a free pass to a club “Catamaran”.
Now that is a story on its own. Club “Catamaran” is a big boat with bars, lasers, good DJ, half-naked go-go girls and boys, clubbing/dancing/lounging necessities and even a transparent dance floor—you can see the sea when you dance. It takes off 1 A.M. sails into the open sea. We partied until 5 A.m. It was the coolest, craziest night of our stay there.
Our vacation was just wonderful. We were treated very well. And this is why it is double hard to return to reality. I don’t hate my country. But I don’t feel like a valued person here. Yesterday, I went up Marjanishvili Street, where lots of cake bakeries are located. Around 10 of them, side to side. I went into one of the shops and could not get information about the cakes, because this stupid woman was talking on the phone, explaining how to make some boiled meat dish and not paying any attention to her costumer. Finally, after I said that I will leave and walk into any of the surrounding bakeries to get similar cake, she put her phone aside and assisted me with “I am so annoyed” face.
So yes, I would rather be on a vacation in a nice hotel with a sea view than spend my time working and taking crap from cake sellers.
P.S. town of Gumbet and the gulf, where we stayed.