Tbilisi is the capital of this small country. It used to have about 5 million people, about the population of metro Atlanta, but now claims only 3.8 million people after the Russian "peacekeepers" invasion and seizure of South Ossetia and other regions in 2008.
Tbilisi turned out to be a great walking city. Kakha and his son George took me on an all-day walking tour that ranged from a park overlooking the city then wound down through the old town district along the river and across to the Peace Bridge. While it was a bit of a hike I enjoyed seeing everything and stopping for coffee in a little café in the old city. Fortunately the weather was excellent.
For a small country it has a deep history and a rather delightful and diverse cuisine. We ate Khinkali and Khachapuri pretty much every day. And of course I had to sample the Georgian wine. Not just the commercial bottled stuff mind you, which anyone can get, but I was gifted with a plastic bottle of wine made by Kakha's father out in the countryside. At dinner one night with a Georgian colleague that I had met in Baghdad he told me the best wine is the homemade local stuff. My experience was that he was right.
Georgia is primarily an Orthodox Christian nation so there are churches everywhere that go back to millennia. On the Saturday I was leaving Rati & Nic took me out of the city in up to an ancient monastery in Mtskheta-Mtianeti. Monasteries were built in the hill for a reason, they are easier to defend and you can see the enemy coming for miles. War was a way of life these many millennia ago. Lunch was at a favorite outdoor restaurant that they claim to have the best khinkali around. I have to admit it really was good. But there is an art to eating khinkali because the juices are cooked inside and you have to be able to eat it without spilling the juice all over yourself and everyone around you. I adapted quickly. It reminded me that many cultures have their own form of dumpling that is a local specialty, like the Nepalese momo or even the Chinese pot sticker.
Kakha made sure I got to the Georgia National Museum to see the gold exhibit. The guide took a us around showing us Gold jewelry that was created in miniature and with precision almost 4,000 years ago. I was stunned at the quality of the craftsmanship and detail that existed so far back in history.