Where the willow don't bend.
There's not much more to be said.
It's the top of the end.
- Bob Dylan
The Caucasus Region, its unheard of to some, but for adventure seekers looking for the next great destination, it's the new "it" thing. Georgia, yes the country and not the state in America. Georgia, a small nation located on the cusp of Europe and Asia. It has a rich history and culture dating back to 4th century BC: from alluring monasteries to fairytale-like villages, from cave settlements to natural wonders. The country has landscapes catering to adventure seekers, hikers, photographers and travelers of any kind. Beautiful is an understatement, cliche, but true. On the other hand, Tbilisi, the capital, is in with the new and out with the old. Tbilisi has undergone a tremendous change in gentrifying the city, especially the Old Town. Around the city, new construction and ultra modern architecture dotted the city's emerging skyline. That being said, has Tbilisi truly lost its soul?
For us, we think we are a little too late in seeing this "off the beaten path" destination. The undiscovered has now been discovered. As you meander through the streets, you are inundated with money exchange booths, tour companies, souvenir shops, taxi drivers promoting their services. Left and right, restaurants advertise traditional food but obviously catering to tourists. Restaurants hosts approach tourists to entice them to eat at their restaurant. Taxi drivers and tour agencies have nudged us more than three times with business cards and flyers. Some of the old buildings are completely renovated to cater to new shops, restaurants, hotels and modern style architecture. On the other hand, other buildings are even completely neglected. The city has remnants of decay, rubble and deterioration. The surrounding neighborhoods is slowly being transformed to cater the demand and needs of tourists, not the local population. Truth be told, as hard as it is to hear, Tbilisi is now a tourist trap. The once not so well-known gem is gone. The city is now a poster child of a soul-less town and has joined the ranks of Cancun, Taj Mahal, and the like.
It's heartbreaking when cities give in to capitalism and lose its quintessence. Arguably Tbilisi needs tourists to boost their economy, but we hope that the government and private owners do its due diligence in preserving the essence of the Old Town. Perhaps five years from now, Tbilisi will entirely succumb to this change and turn to a fully gentrified town. You would think, a less known city would not be as romanticized as Paris, but you have to approach Tbilisi with your glass half full.
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