Hey folks! We just decided to kinda help you out in case you're
plannin' on visiting our Mother-Nation. This is just a brief intro page about the most important things to know and just some helpful tips. This is mainly made for American travellers.
Still with me? All right then. Here we go:
Happy? Okay go back to GeorgiaNet.
I. Practical Information
A. Check-in Procedures/Visa........................3
B. Telephone and mail..............................3
D. Money Exchange..................................4
F. Laundry/Cleaning Service........................4
II. Health information....................................................5
III. Security Tips
Walking or Riding about Town........................6
IV. General Information about Tbilisi
A. A Brief History.................................8
G. Places of Worship...............................13
V. Accommodation Facilities....................................................13
I. Practical Information
A. Visas/ Check-in procedures at the Embassy
Foreign visitors to Georgia can get entry visas either in
Georgian embassies in their own countries, or within three
days after arrival in Georgia, in the consular department at
the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Upon arriving at the Embassy, official visitors should take
their passport and one passport picture to the Personnel
Assistant in the Personnel Office. The Personnel Assistant
will obtain your Georgian visa.
US Embassy Address: ( All other addresses will be posted soon! )
B.Telephones and Mail
Embassy, 25 Atoneli Street
Switchboard: 98-28-30, 98-39-87
After hours: 93-38-03
Telex: (64) 212-210 amemb su
The after-hours embassy number, 93-38-03, is manned 24
hours by an English speaking guard who can put you in touch
with an embassy officer. Other emergency numbers are:
Phone and Mail Use
Calls to Tbilisi can be directly dialed from the
United States. The code is (011) 995 32 + local number.
Calls to the States may be ordered from the Embassy
switchboard operator. Dial 0 to reach the operator. Tbilisi
is 9 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
If you choose to rent a car, or a car with driver, you
can expect to pay approximately $20 per day plus gasoline.
Call one of two shopping services that may be able to find a
rental for you: 37-02-66 or 98-22-61. Taxi service is
available for official Embassy visitors at the Embassy,
Monday - Friday from 18:00 to 22:00 and weekends from 10:00
to 23:00. City taxis may be flagged on the street or called
at 23-11-47, or 008.
Much of the city can be explored by foot, but the
Embassy recommends this only during daylight hours. I personally
do not think it is as bad. But oh well, that's the embassy talking. See
"Security Tips" for more information on security in the city
D. Money Exchange
Money can be exchanged at the Embassy cashier's office
(ext.148). The Embassy Cashier is open Monday, Wednesday,
and Friday from 9:30 to 12:30.
Also Currency can be exchanged at any bank or a currency exchange shop.
The Embassy cafeteria is open for lunch from 12:30 to
2:00 pm Monday through Friday. (ext. 135)
If you are planning to eat there of course.
F. Laundry/Cleaning Service
Long-term (30 days or longer) visitors may use the
Embassy's laundry service for a reasonable charge. Mark
your laundry bag clearly with your name and give to the
laundress in the laundry room, ext. 134. Your laundry will
be returned in 1-2 days time with a bill that can be paid
directly to the laundress. Most hotels offer laundry
II. Health information
Food and Water
The following precautions have been recommended by the
Regional Medical Officer relating to locally purchased or
prepared foods. These precautions do not pertain to the
Matechi Palace Hotel where they follow European standards and
double filter the water.
1. Foods must be cooked thoroughly, especially meat,
poultry, and fish.
2. Food exposed to room temperature for more than 2 hours
should not be eaten.
3. Food should not be purchased from street vendors.
4. Raw vegetables should be washed in a chlorine solution.
5. Don't drink water from the tap. - That's what the embassy says again. We all drink it,
we're alive. So, go figure.
Health risks in Georgia
The climate of Georgia is favorable, similar to that found in
areas of the U.S. and one which does not support unusual health
problems. In the mountains air is fresh and healty. The usual
bacterial and viral illnesses which one might encounter in the U.S.
can also be encountered in Georgia..
Sanitation and public health control measures, although not
absent, are not of U.S. standards of quality and quality control.
And, in any country undergoing political, economic and social
changes, medical risks not present today may be present tomorrow.
Thus, basic preventive health practices must be closely followed.
Common sense will protect you well.
Universal immunization is not practiced within the country, so
vaccine-preventable illnesses such as diphtheria and measles
which are virtually non existent in the U.S. can be found in
Georgia. Americans are immunized and therefore are not at
particular risk. Rabies is found in Georgia as it is in the
U.S., though it is not currently reported in Tbilisi. Any dog
bite should be investigated and treated appropriately with Rabies
potential in mind. Probably the greatest immediate health risk
you may encounter in Georgia is from traffic crashes. Defensive
driving practices and the wearing of seat belts is essential.
Passive cigarette smoke is also a risk and is very difficult to
Water supplies within the country should not be considered
suitable for drinking, even though the quality is reasonably
good. Again, consistency of quality control is problematical.
Safe water today may not be safe tomorrow. Fruits and vegetables
should be surface washed and/or peeled prior to use. Meats
should be well cooked and local dairy products used with caution.
One should always be aware that one is not living in the U.S.
where things work medically. But one should also not worry
unduly about being under any special threat of disease, if
sensible preventive health practices are followed. The risk of
becoming seriously ill or injured is probably no greater than it
would be in the U.S. But the availability of medical care is not
equivalent, neither in time nor in general quality. Some selected
medical providers are very good, however.
In the case of a medical emergency, contact the Embassy
immediately (after hours: 93-38-03). The hospital
responsible for the Embassy is City Hospital 2, and an
ambulance can be called by dialing 03.
A nurse practitioner is available for consultations
Monday - Friday 9:00-6:00 a.m. at the Embassy. Check with
the Personnel Assistant for further information.
III. Security Tips from the Regional Security Office
Walking or Riding About Town:
Tbilisi is a beautiful city and should be enjoyed.
Most of the safety precautions you would take in a large
American city are also appropriate for Tbilisi.
On Foot: Keep your wallet or cash in a safe place. It might be wise to
keep small currency in a separate pocket from your higher denomination Lari notes
and/or dollars. This way you can pay for most items without
showing how much money you really have. Avoid flashing
bills anywhere. Avoid wearing expensive jewelry (unless you
are going straight to a party or function).
When walking in town during daylight hours, travel
with companions when possible.
The later it gets in the evening in Tbilisi, the less police
presence there is on the streets with a corresponding
increase in criminal activity. The safety has increased significantly lately; However don't take your chances.
Stay away from dark areas, recessed parts of buildings, or alleys. At night call for a ride if possible.
For after hours transportation, call 93-38-03. If you must walk somewhere at night, travel
Avoid the Metro system unless necessary and only
to transit between the major stops in the center of town. Once again, who knows? You are in a big city.
If you see a fight or demonstration in the street
(unless your reporting requirements dictate otherwise) leave
the area. If there appears to be a major demonstration,
particularly if it is violent, after leaving the immediate
area call and advise other Embassy personnel (RSO, Duty
If someone other than the police try to flag down
your car (particularly at night), don't stop. You may have
to slow down to determine if they are police or not. If
they don't have some type of uniform, speed off. If you are
stopped by police, immediately identify yourself as an
Always keep all car doors locked, no matter
how short the distance of your trip. Never open a car door for
anyone. Communication can be made through a partially open
If you are involved in a minor accident don't get out
of the car. (This is particularly applicable if someone
lightly hits the rear of your car.) Motion to the person to
follow you and find the nearest policeman. This is a common
ploy to rob people and/or steal their car. If you are
involved in an accident, don't admit to being at fault or
sign anything. Insist you be allowed to call the American
There are many interesting areas to see on
day trips outside of Tbilisi. Services on the road are
extremely limited. It would be a good idea to take along
extra gasoline, a spare tire, jack and tool kit, a
flashlight, some bottled water, a first aid kit, toiletries,
etc. PLEASE CONSULT WITH THE RSO OF DUTY OFFICER BEFORE
IV. General Information about Tbilisi
Tbilisi has a population of approximately 1.5 million and is
the capital of the Republic of Georgia. It is located at 45
degrees North (the same latitude as Boston), at an altitude
which ranges from 1246 to 2460 feet above sea level.
A. Brief History
In the middle of the Fifth century King Dachi, the son
of King Vakhtang Gorgasali of Kartli, moved the capital to
Tbilisi from Mtskheta, a town 12 miles from Tbilisi that is
well worth a visit. Tbilisi was named for its hot sulphur
springs -- the Georgian word for "warm" is tbili. According
to legend King Gorgasali discovered the hot springs while on
a hunting trip, and was so impressed with the strategic
location in the narrow gorge of the Mtkvari River, he
decided to found a city there. Tbilisi has survived over 40
invasions by the Persians, Arabs, Mongols, Seljuk and
Ottoman Turks, and tribes from the North Caucasus, but has
always been able to rise again.
The twelfth century was the golden age of Georgia when
Tbilisi, under David the Builder, was capital of a united
Georgia, and lay at the crossroads of many trade routes. The
city and Georgian arts and culture flourished. King David
was followed by his son, grandson, and great-granddaughter,
Queen (sometimes called "King") Tamara, "the most powerful,
hospitable and generous sovereign among the rulers of those
days". Marco Polo wrote of his visit in 1298 that in
Georgia there was "a beautiful town, Tipilisi by name,
surrounded by settlements and a multitude of strongholds."
But despite its fortifications, in 1226 the city was sacked
again by invaders. Within the same century the city had
recovered to the extent that the Catholic Bishop in the Near
East was transferred from Smyrna to Tbilisi. At the
beginning of the fifteenth century, the city again fell to
invaders, but the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries saw
another revival--the first Georgian printing house was
established and Georgia's first Code of State and Civil Law
was developed. In 1783 the Georgian Treaty was signed,
under which the East Georgian Kingdom came under the
protection of Russia. This treaty so angered the Persian
ruler that he razed the Tbilisi to the ground. In 1801
Georgia was incorporated into the Russian Empire. Georgia was
forced to become part of USSR in 1921 and it broke away in 1991.
The charm and beauty of Tbilisi has been attested to
by many writers, both local and foreign, and you can still
find the names of some of those writers on the streets named
after them: Rustaveli, Chavchavadze, Dumas, and Pushkin, to
name a few. The short civil war after the Georgian
declaration of independence (winter of 1990-91) destroyed a
few of the downtown buildings, but Tbilisi remains a unique
and attractive city.
The Georgian language is the state language of
Georgia. It belongs to the Kartvelian group of Ibero-
Caucasian languages. Georgian is the only language in the
Ibero-Caucasian family having ancient script. The most
ancient writing date back to the Fifth century AD. The
alphabet of 33 letters (5 vowels and 28 consonants). The
shape of the letters is unique and it can not be compared to
any other existing alphabet. Almost all Georgians speak
Russian as well, and increasing numbers speak English.
Tbilisi has a continental climate with hot summers and
chilly, damp winters without much spring or fall in between.
There is minimal snow in the capital in winter. Summers in
Tbilisi tend to be quite stuffy with poor air quality.
The average monthly minimum and maximum temperatures
(fahrenheit) and precipitation (inches) are as follows:
Georgian food is delicious. Make sure you go to a restaurant. Many of the following restaurants close early in the
evening or may not work daily, so a reservation is
recommended. Most can seat large parties with advance
Here are just a few good examples:
Diplomatic Club, 4/6 Mtkvari Street, 99-76-62 (no sign--
look for guard booth out front) -- pleasant atmosphere,
reasonable prices, good food. Usually no reservation
Private restaurant, 35 Davitashvili Street, 99-61-61
(entrance above the street through house gate and yard),
manager Givi--small, pleasant atmosphere (quasi-Chinese
decor), good Georgian fare and competent service. No recent
reports on food or service.
Rioni, behind Adjara Hotel, 36-75-06--small restaurant with
inconsistent, but usually good food and service.
Frequently there is no heat in the winter.
Rachis Ubani, Ethnographic Museum, Vake Park, 23-09-60,
museum manager Soso--traditional Georgian tables with a
pleasant setting in one of the restored houses in the open
air museum, works seasonally.
Palermo, 67A Tsereteli Avenue, 35-47-70,
manager Marina Mikheladze--small, clean, good service,
sometimes with music, reservations must be made at least one
Metekhi Palace Hotel Restaurant, Issani, 98-58-17 or 74-45-56,
good food and atmosphere.
Souvenirs and gifts:
There are several good shops in town offering Georgian artwork and handicrafts.
The following are all in walking distance of the Embassy:
"Salome" Art Salon; 41 Vertskhli Street (Old Town near
"Solani"; 19 Rustaveli Avenue, across from the old
government building next to the Rustaveli Theater
"Antique Saloon"; Rustaveli Avenue, across Republican Square
from the Iveria Hotel
"Pirosmani"; Rustaveli Avenue, just beyond "Antique
"Patmani"; Rustaveli Avenue, across from "Pirosmani",
just past the Iveria Hotel.
Open Flea Market; Saturday and Sunday mornings in the
park under the bridge behind the Embassy. Art,
souvenirs and "collectibles". There are several
other large outdoor specialty markets for those
who have access to transportation.
Food: There is a small peasants' market very close to
the Embassy where one can find acceptable seasonal fruits
and vegetables, eggs, cheese, yogurt, and spices--and more
and more imported items in cans and jars. It's best to go
early in the day for the best selection. There are some
hard currency stores with a very limited selection of
foodstuffs --"Tsitsinatela" at
23 Rustaveli Avenue, 93-45-83 and "Aragvi", opposite the
Telephone/Telegraph building, and the Matico shop. Western
products also can be found in the small private booth stores
in the city: soft drinks, beer, chocolate, coffee, pasta,
and so on.
Any western clothing, technology, food etc. can be found all over the city.
Some examples are:
Clothes:Levi's, Lee Cooper, adidas, Nike, Reebok, etc. Fasion clothes:
Babylon, Albatros, Bata - shoe store, Pierre Cardin, Calvin Klein, Polo, California Express
(A selection of Van Heusen, nautica, Izod, Ralph Lauren, etc.)
Food:Supermarkets: A set of Super Babylon Shops, Unica Diplomat etc. Snacks:
Any Vending Kiosk in the street - It is safe. Fast food: Mali - a big set of fast foods. Other
western ones are also available.
Miscellaneous: There is a small drug store,
"Unipharm", a British joint venture located in the
underground mall under Republican Square (in front of Iveria
Hotel). They have a small selection of prescription and
non-prescription drugs, toiletries, paper products, pet
supplies, and toys. There are also many other pharmacies in the city.
There is a Kodak film developer and private store with
some clothing, western sundries, and technical equipment on
There are also 2 shopping services that will find what
you need if they can (for a small fee): Manana or Givi
("Economic Center") at 37-02-26. Natalie or Murman
("Service") at 98-22-61.
Both of these services can also help in finding domestic
help, an apartment, or basically anything that can be
bought. "Service" also can provide excellent cakes and
If there is something specific you are looking for,
ask the local staff for advice.
F. Sights in Tbilisi
Tbilisi is an ancient city, which became the capital
of Georgia (Kartli) in 458 A.D. There is a great deal to
see even in these difficult times. Unfortunately most of
the museums have removed the most valuable parts of their
collection to closed archives. But the Djanashia Museum of
Georgia, close to the Embassy on Rustaveli Avenue, contains
artifacts which cover the entire history of Georgia, from
the Paleolithic era through the Soviet period. The Georgian
Art Museum is also very close, on Pushkin Square. Some of
the better-known Georgian artists whose works you can see
there include Lado Gudiashvili, David Kakabadze, Yelena
Akhvlediani, and the self-taught artist, Pirosmani.
Grishashvili Museum of History and Ethnography at 8 Sioni
Street, is located in a restored Caravansarai near the Sioni
Cathedral, a pleasant 15 minute walk from the Embassy.
The older parts of town are pleasant areas for walking: the
area above Freedom Square and Rustaveli Avenue, Leselidze
Street which stretches from Freedom Square to the river, and
David Aghmashenebeli Avenue. The Central Botanical Gardens
are beautiful and located not far from the Embassy. The
more adventurous can try hiking up around the old fortress
Some impressive monuments include, but are not limited to:
-the Metekhi Church (the one that sits above the
river on your way to Metekhi Palace Hotel);
-Sioni Cathedral, the seat of the Catholicos of the
Georgian Orthodox Church, just off Leselidze Street;
-the synagogue, on Leselidze St.;
-St. David's Church, halfway up the mountain on which
the radio tower stands.
In Victory Park, or "Vake Park", there is an open-air
ethnographic museum featuring restored houses taken from the
various regions in Georgia. An English-language tour can be
arranged in advance. Call director Givi at 23-09-60.
G. Places of Worship
There are no services in English available in Tbilisi,
but there are many churches and one synagogue in Tbilisi:
-- The vast majority of churches in Georgia are Georgian
Orthodox. Most of them are open at all times for prayers.
Sunday service is generally from 9am to 12am. Worshippers
stand, and it is acceptable to enter for a short time during
the service. The main church is Sioni on Leselidze Street.
-- Synagogue: Leselidze St., services in a mixture of Georgian
-- Baptist church: Kakhovskaya St., 34-29-10, senior clergyman
-- Catholic church: Ivan Javakhishvili St., services in
V. Accommodation Facilities
Metekhi Palace Hotel:
The only western standard four-star hotel in Tbilisi is the Metekhi Palace Hotel.
The room rate at the Metekhi Palace Hotel for an Embassy visitor (minus the
VAT) is $164 per night. The regular rate is $204 (plus 20% VAT) per night. The room
rate includes breakfast and full use of the Health Club.
Note: Visitors to Tbilisi can stay in private guest houses, where Georgian
hospitality along with marvelous service and comfortable atmosphere will guarantee
9 Dzotsenidze St.,
(995) 8832 933563 or 304438
Satellite tel/fax: +49 5151 12013 ext. 933562
+1 908 888 9698 ext. 123
President Berika International Ltd. - Natasha Chikvaidze.
The room rates are $110-140 per night, including breakfast and dinner.
55/21 Belinski St.,
Tel: (995) 8832
Manager: Donald Jenkins
The room rate is $80 per night, including breakfast and dinner.
47 Nutsubidze St.,
Tel: (995) 8832 397194,394787
Manager: Laura Shanidze
The room rate is $90 per night, including breakfast and dinner.
Rcheulishvili St., building 4
Fax/Tel: (995) 8832 294443
The room rate is $ 110 per night, including breakfast and dinner.
Most of this information was provided by the US Embassy in Tbilisi.
For more information see Sanet.
Any comments? Is there anything else you would like to know?
Do you not like the background? Was it hard to read?
Well, then, send me a comment!