Top 10 Things to do in Tbilisi


Tbilisi is fast becoming one of the top cities in Europe to visit. With a mixture of grand Soviet buildings blending in with Tsarist architecture and avenues which surround the old town, which is little changed since the 18th century, Tbilisi is a great place to explore.

Crossing Borders. How an Illegal Immigrant travelled to the UK



I have spent the last few weeks crossing over 10 borders as I traversed the countries that both surround and make up the old Yugoslavian Republic. Having both a UK and Australian passport meant the border checks for me were mostly cursory and, apart from long queues, not that stressful.

Celebrating a Local Hero, Josef Stalin. Gori


Josef Vissarionovich Stalin was born in Gori, Georgia, in December 1878. His birth put the city on the map and was one of the first places to erect a statue to the Soviet leader. And it may well be the last city in the world to still have a statue of him in place. Despite his many atrocities and the destruction of any reminders of him elsewhere in the former Soviet bloc, Gori still remembers its local hero.

The ancient caves of Uplistsikhe


15km north of Gori in central Georgia lies the cave dwellings of Uplistsikhe. Situated high above the River Mtkvari, and surrounded by rich agricultural lands, it is one of the oldest settlements in Georgia, with archaeological findings showing that there have been signs of habitation for over 3,000 years, since the Bronze Age.

Hiding from the Mongols inside a mountain. Vardzia


In the twelfth century, the Mongol hordes were threatening to overrun Georgia, as they had already done to so many other countries. The warrior Queen Tamar ordered the construction of a hidden city, to provide safety and as a place of resistance should the Mongols succeed in their invasion, and the secret city of Vardzia was born.

Riding Stalin's Cable Cars. Chiatura


Manganese was in short supply in the Soviet Union after the Second World War. Important for steel making, and vital for the military, Stalin wanted to increase productivity in the largest Soviet mine in Chiatura. To get the miners to and from their homes, built across many hills with poor road access, required something a little unusual, cable cars. In 1954 the first of 17 lines opened with much pomp and ceremony, as it was the first cable-car in the whole of the Soviet Union. And it is still operating today.

The House of Stalin. Tbilisi


On a leafy street on the outskirts of the Georgian capital Tbilisi is a small nondescript house hidden behind a wall. It is not featured in many top tens of things to do in this vibrant city, but I found it to be one of the most interesting places I visited in Georgia. For this home was the base of a Bolshevik effort to spread revolution and topple the Tsar of Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century, with the main protagonist being one Joseph Stalin.