Georgia: Our First Vacation With A Toddler

June 21, 2017

Our very first family trip couldn't have been to a better destination. Georgia was everything we hoped for. Tickets are not too expensive from Dubai and we booked our flight one day before flying out. We chose this destination as UAE residents do not require a visa and the flight is just 2 hr 40 mins approx. With a squirmy toddler, short travel time was a priority. 

We took FlyDubai from Terminal 2. Our flight was at 1:30AM so that was a downside as the whole night was ruined. But on the upside I didn't pack much to entertain the baby as he slept through the flight 😀 WIN !! We had booked an apartment with Airbnb that also included an airport pickup. The city is about 20-25 mins from the airport depending on traffic. 

The building looks old and grunge but the interior was slick and modern. And the kitchen was a plus with a baby. Location was great. There was no elevator so getting stroller and bags was a bit of a workout. The streets are all cobblestone and steep slopes so after first day we decided not to lug around the stroller as it was more tiring at we were pooped at the end of the day. 

 

 We stayed one night at NARIKALA Citadel Express Hotel to experience old Tbilisi. Beautiful small cottage on top of Narikala Hill. Five minutes walk to Narikala Fort. The view was gorgeous but the hotel is on a very steep slope and the climb to our cabin with luggage was exhausting. And the room was the tiniest I have ever seen. Since it was just one night we managed. Note to self: "Travel light next time!!"

We didn't plan anything much except for stay and flight since it was first time with the baby. There were tons of tours available to choose from and we wanted to have our options open. Plenty of day tours to nearby towns with options of bus, minibus or private cars, guided walking tours of Tbilisi. So much history and culture to learn about, definitely recommend a guided tour. There are churches, forts, parks and loads and loads of cute cafés. 

We did a One day tour from Tbilisi to Ananuri Castle, Gudauri, Mtskheta along the military road. Our driver, Kote Kiknadze, speaks good English and car was clean and spacious. We paid him 80$. If you wish to contact him, here is his phone number: +995 551778835 (he uses whatsapp, viber). I would recommend a local driver as driving is quite rash in general. 

Tbilisi is filled with boho chic streets and hundreds of cafes. Walking is the best way to explore the city so please carry the most comfortable pair of shoes you own. 

Weather was a little funny. Mornings would feel like a nice summer day and by 5:30-6.00 gets windy and chilly. There was a hailstorm, heavy rain and sunny again in a span of 2 hrs. So pack an umbrella, hoodie and ALWAYS carry a warm blanket, socks and jacket for the baby. We learned the hard way. After that we planned our days so we could come back to the apartment by 4:30-5, dress for the evening and headout again. 

I didn't find a single changing table or baby care room even at airport so people with small kids be prepared to master changing diapers without one. Carry loads of wet wipes and garbage bags with you everywhere. Breastfeeding in public was fine. 

 

We visited:

📍Tbilisi Botanical garden : lush green and beautiful waterfall. 

📍Tbilisi zoo : Its not in the best of shape as they had a devastating flood in 2015 killing half of the animals. We just wanted to visit anyway. It was just 2 GEL per person. 

📍Underground sulfur baths: you can book a massage and sulfur bath for the ultimate relaxing vacation 

📍Narikala Fort and Mother Georgia : You can either hike up or take the cable car. We took the cable car.  

📍Peace Bridge

📍Mtatsminda Park (Funicular complex): This is absolutely great for kids. Could spend an entire day. This was our favorite spot of all obviously because our son had a great time. 

 

Food:

There were many options for vegetarians and almost all the places had Mexican fried potatoes, margarita pizza and veg soups. We did try some vegetarian Georgian cuisine as well. Like a local is an app you can use for restaurants and things to see. We don't eat meat so can't comment much. 

Lot of street vendors sell fresh fruits and juices. Snacks and coffee available everywhere. We would just go to the nearest store and stock up on yogurt, fruits, drinks etc for the day. Do try churchkhela traditional Georgian candy, you will see them everywhere (funny looking things, they are hard to miss). It has Walnuts/hazelnuts covered with grape juice. 

Places we ate at:

🍟Cafe Iveria (next to radisson blue) was amazing location and great food. 

🍟McDonalds is a nice beautiful building close to republic square. And they serve Beer 🍻😎

🍟Kiwi cafe was a vegan place with good food. We had a tofu sandwich.

🍟Couple of Indian restaurant as well. Taj mahal, spice etc. 

🍟Café accent : expensive , ok food and ok service

🍟Café kala: its on a beautiful little street. Best known for georgian food.

 

 

Old Tbilisi is a little more costly in terms of everything. 

I carry a homemade mixture of oregano, chilliflakes, salt, blackpepper, garlic and onion powder ( all mixed and powdered) Some places the food was totally bland (not even salt😶) Soups, bread, pizza, potatoes, fries .. we used it everywhere!! Was a lifesaver. 

 

Miscellaneous information: 

⏺We did a 6-days 5-nights trip and spent a total of 1600$ including everything. (Travel, hotel, food, shopping)

⏺ There are both right hand drive and left hand drive cars on the streets.

⏺Alcohol is cheap and free flowing. Every nook and corner, restaurant and cafe serves alcohol. 

⏺Simcards are available for FREE. Data is cheap and free wifi in the city : tbilisilovesyou

⏺"Like a local" is the app we used for getting around the city.  

⏺ A winter vacation in a ski resort in borjomi, gudauri or kazbegi (Rooms Hotel) will be our next trip to Georgia 

⏺ Its amazing for kids. Everything is so natural and raw in a very beautiful way! Super friendly people. They will want to carry around you baby or take pictures. We were okay with it. 

⏺ We didnt step out late at night cos of the baby but there are casinos, bars and clubs. There was a cool street close to the sulfur baths that mostly had sheesha places and clubs.

Overall, we really had a good time and its not too expensive. Perfect destination with kids as they are allowed everywhere. Lot of smoking though, so up to you where you want to take them.

We will surely come back to explore more of this beautiful country.

 

About Pooja: "I am 30 yr old first time mum. I have done my masters in pharmacy from New york and currently am stay at home mom. I love cooking, crafting and upcycling old unwanted stuff. Recently discovered my interest to write blogs".  Check her blog Little Plates!

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