Tbilisi: Cheap and cheerful, but still luxurious

Tbilisi: Cheap and cheerful, but still luxurious
Tbilisi is also a good starting point for day trips around the rest of Georgia. Getty Images
Short Url
Updated 15 October 2021

Tbilisi: Cheap and cheerful, but still luxurious

Tbilisi: Cheap and cheerful, but still luxurious
  • The Georgian capital and its surrounds offer rich history, stunning views, and hearty food at bargain prices

DUBAI: If you are on the lookout for a city vacation that won’t break the bank, but also won’t force you to compromise on quality, then the Georgian capital of Tbilisi — an urban sprawl nestled in a series of mountains following the route of the Kura River — is well worth a visit.

Its architecture reflects the country’s varied past and its geographical location where East (nearly) meets West. The influence of the latter is as clearly apparent as that of the Russian Empire and the Soviet era with its imposing apartment blocks.

Tbilisi is not a huge city, but you can easily fill a week walking the streets, visiting the various tourist attractions and absorbing its busy, vibrant atmosphere.




The old city of Tblisi. Getty Images

The airport is a short drive from the city center, but beware; there are people, mostly men, wearing black tabard’s emblazoned with the words “Airport taxi.” Make sure you agree a price before starting your ride, otherwise you might find you’re paying up to three times the actual fare.

Despite the airport taxis, though, Tbilisi is highly affordable. Georgia has embraced the European Union but not the Euro and as such remains a place where your wallet will be less strained than in many European countries.

You can stay in one of the many 4-star hotels in the heart of the old city for as little as $300 for four nights — although you can certainly spend more if you want to — and you can eat a hearty meal with beverages for as little as $20. 




View from Zedazeni Mountain. Shutterstock

The concierge at most hotels will help you come up with an itinerary, but be sure to include the Zedazeni Monastery. Located at the top of the Zedazeni mountain, it is one of the country’s oldest and boasts a vast metal cross as well as panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

It’s also worth investing in bus tour of the city. Tickets are valid for 24 hours, and the tour takes in all major tourist attractions.  

A walk around the old town is a must — the narrow streets are lined with historic buildings, first floor balconies overlooking the tree-filled streets; it’s like a scene from an old French market town. Overlooking this idyll is the Mother of Georgia statue. It’s a short-but-steep walk to this monument, and the reward is spectacular views across the city.

 




Mother of Georgia statue. Getty Images

Outside of the old town, the roads are busier and traffic is heavy. It’s not the most pedestrian-friendly place — sidewalks often come to an abrupt end, leaving you with the choice of a quick dash into the road or a sharp U-turn to find a better route.

Another great location for spectacular views is Mtatsminda Park, which can be reached via the Tbilisi Funicular ropeway railway connecting Chonkadze street with the summit, 727 meters above sea level. 

It gets hot in Georgia in the summer and the city’s galleries and museums offer a welcome escape. The National Gallery, on Rustaveli Avenue, is small, but provides an interesting insight into Georgian history. A short distance away is the Georgian Museum of Fine Art, which — apart from its three floors of artworks — also boasts a tremendous café.  




National Art Gallery. Shutterstock

If markets are your thing, set aside some time for the flea market next to the Dry Bridge. It has a wide selection of arts and crafts and is a nice place for a stroll, even if you have no intention of buying anything. Who knows? You might just find that bronze bust of Stalin to add the finishing touch to your guest room.

Tbilisi is also a good starting point for day trips around the rest of Georgia. The country’s third city, Kutaisi, is around three hours away by car, up in the mountains, surrounded by impressive scenery. It’s a far slower-paced city than the capital, with a broad selection of restaurants and cafés in which to while away the time.




Kutaisi. Shutterstock

Georgia is a beautiful country, and a popular destination because it is also remarkably cheap. Remember though, people are paid relative to that level of cost — so be sure to tip generously when eating out. You’ll be able to afford it, and it will make your waiter’s day.


EgyptAir ‘Green Service Flights’ to cut single-use plastics 

A new “Green Service Flight” logo will mark all sustainable flights and EgyptAir is offering a 40 percent discount on the Cairo to Paris flight. (Reuters/File Photo)
A new “Green Service Flight” logo will mark all sustainable flights and EgyptAir is offering a 40 percent discount on the Cairo to Paris flight. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 18 January 2022

EgyptAir ‘Green Service Flights’ to cut single-use plastics 

A new “Green Service Flight” logo will mark all sustainable flights and EgyptAir is offering a 40 percent discount on the Cairo to Paris flight. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Saturday’s flight, from Cairo, Egypt to Paris, France, will be the first of its kind for an African airline

CAIRO: EgyptAir will operate a new environmentally friendly service on Saturday as part ‘Green Service Flights,’ a new program to combat climate change and pollution.

The new flight category aims to eliminate single-use plastics and pollution. Saturday’s flight, from Cairo, Egypt to Paris, France, will be the first of its kind for an African airline.

Mohamed Manar, Egyptian minister of civil aviation, said that the Egyptian aviation sector “attaches great importance to confronting the effects of climate change.”

Environmental sustainability will be achieved through an “integrated ecosystem” that applies international legalislation to domestic aviation standards, he added.

According to the minister, EgyptAir’s future plan aims to reduce single-use plastics on flights by 90 percent. The airline has identified 27 single-use plastic products, which have been replaced with sustainable alternatives.

A new “Green Service Flight” logo will mark all sustainable flights.

EgyptAir is offering a 40 percent discount on the Cairo to Paris flight.

International Air Transport Association data shows that a single passenger on a short or long-term flight produces about 1.43 kilograms of waste, much of it single-use plastics, which threatens human health and marine life.


James Blunt, Wyclef Jean announced for Diriyah E-Prix concerts

James Blunt and Wyclef Jean have been announced as part of the line-up for the day one concert as part of the Formula E Diriyah E-Prix weekend. (Supplied)
James Blunt and Wyclef Jean have been announced as part of the line-up for the day one concert as part of the Formula E Diriyah E-Prix weekend. (Supplied)
Updated 18 January 2022

James Blunt, Wyclef Jean announced for Diriyah E-Prix concerts

James Blunt and Wyclef Jean have been announced as part of the line-up for the day one concert as part of the Formula E Diriyah E-Prix weekend. (Supplied)
  • The Diriyah E-Prix kicks off the eighth season of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship with a double header of back-to-back races

RIYADH: James Blunt and Wyclef Jean have been announced as part of the line-up for the day one concert as part of the Formula E Diriyah E-Prix weekend in Riyadh.

A third artist who will join the performers will be announced soon, organizers said.

Singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer Blunt has a stellar 17-year career that has spawned over 23 million album sales. The Grammy Award nominated singer is known for his global smash hits “You’re Beautiful” and “Goodbye My Lover”.

He is joined at the event by rapper Wyclef Jean, a three-time Grammy Winner who after founding the Fugees, has had a successful solo career for more than two decades. The Fugees monumental album, “The Score,” which hit No. 1 on the US Billboard chart, spawned a trio of smash singles (including their reinvention of Roberta Flack’s 1973 ballad “Killing Me Softly”), and is now certified six times platinum.

The Diriyah E-Prix kicks off the eighth season of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship with a double header of back-to-back races across two days. 

In accordance with the latest health and safety protocols, the organizers have said daily attendance will be limited to ensure all fans have a safe experience, and those interested in enjoying the events live are encouraged to purchase their tickets early.

General admission tickets start from SR150 and provide access to E-village, while Grandstand tickets grant access to the E-village and the after-race concerts, and can be bought at this link.


Review: Denzel Washington gives a haunting performance in ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’

Review: Denzel Washington gives a haunting performance in ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’
Denzel Washington stars in ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth.’ Supplied
Updated 18 January 2022

Review: Denzel Washington gives a haunting performance in ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’

Review: Denzel Washington gives a haunting performance in ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’

CHENNAI: “The Tragedy of Macbeth” — directed by Joel Coen, who after 18 films has gone solo without his brother Ethan — takes us to the old world cinematic charm of monochrome frames in 1.19:1 aspect ratio, which was popular the end of the silent era with its nearly perfect square frames. 

One of the most distressing tragedies that Shakespeare penned, Coen's version of Macbeth is the latest in a long line of adaptations. But the latest one on Apple TV+ sticks to Shakespearean original, though Coen, who also wrote the screenplay, has trimmed it to a comfortable 103 minutes that has every chance of appealing to even those who may not be among the Bard’s most ardent admirers. 

Coen's version of Macbeth is the latest in a long line of adaptations. Supplied

The brilliant conceptualization — with starkly powerful photography by Bruno Delbonnel and scintillating performances by its leads, Denzel Washington as Macbeth and Frances McDormand as Lady Macbeth — takes the film visually and narratively to an exhilarating high. Mostly shot indoors, the sparse frames are richly engrossing and tell us a classic story that many of us will be familiar with. The imaginative camera placements create an overall experience that is as appealing as it is disturbing and destructive.

he imaginative camera placements create an overall experience that is as appealing as it is disturbing and destructive. Supplied

Unfolding sometimes against white foggy landscapes with the frightening cawing of black birds, we see the movie open with Macbeth returning victorious from war with Ireland and Norway and meeting a witch who prophesies that he will become the Thane of Cawdor and later the King of Scotland, thus planting a foreboding thought in his head. But when King Duncan (Brendan Gleeson) proclaims that his son, Malcolm (Harry Melling), will succeed him on the throne, we see a faint but unmistakable trace of disappointment, pain and anger in Macbeth, portrayed with haunting intensity. Lady Macbeth nudges him to murder the king, and as he walks along a never-ending corridor with a sword beckoning him, we know that a tragedy will eventually be their undoing. 

McDormand, while arresting as a woman who drives her husband toward doom and death, was, I felt, not as   intense as she was in “Fargo” or “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”


Bella Hadid dons statement ‘Palestine’ jewelry

Bella Hadid dons statement ‘Palestine’ jewelry
Updated 18 January 2022

Bella Hadid dons statement ‘Palestine’ jewelry

Bella Hadid dons statement ‘Palestine’ jewelry

DUBAI: Bella Hadid is proud to be Palestinian — the part-Arab model, who was born to US-Palestinian real estate developer Mohamed Hadid and Dutch reality television star Yolanda Hadid, often declares her love for her heritage. When she is not using her platform to raise awareness about pressing humanitarian issues in Palestine, the 25-year-old can be found rolling grape leaves and stuffing whole vegetables to make dolma with her father and older sisters on Instagram Stories. This week the catwalker decided to sartorially embrace her roots and let her jewelry do all the talking by stepping out wearing a Chvker Jewelry necklace bearing the text “Palestine,” custom made by the brand’s designer Nazlia Yunus.

Hadid stepped out in West Hollywood for media artist Alana O'Herlihy’s birthday celebrations at The Nice Guy restaurant. For the occasion, the model wore a brown, backless halter dress with an asymmetrical hemline and a pair of white knee-high leather boots. She accessorized the look, which features a plunging neckline, with a gold Palestine necklace, which she paired with a nameplate “Isabella” chain, also from Chvker Jewelry.

The designer revealed that Hadid has asked her to create about eight customized necklaces for her, including “Pizza Queen,” “Libra Angel,” “Hellz Bellz,” “Baby Bellz,” “Bella Hadid” and “Khair,” which is her middle name.

Uzbekistan-born Yunus immigrated to Texas, where she went on to study psychology at Blinn College. Keen to escape the mundaneness of exams and papers, the 25-year-old decided to pursue her first passion, jewelry making. Yunus began by making chokers on online marketplace Etsy, before opening a store on Shopify, where she sold necklaces and earrings.

The jewelry was an instant hit. It wasn’t long before influencers and It-Girls on Instagram took to the photo-sharing platform to showcase Chvker’s playful gold vermeil-plated sterling silver jewelry in the form of heart-shaped hoop earrings, butterfly-emblazoned chokers and evil eye anklets.

Hadid is the latest celebrity to don Chvker’s pieces. Everyone from British actress Millie Bobby Brown and “Euphoria” star Alexa Demie to beauty mogul Kylie Jenner and her three-year-old daughter Stormi have been spotted wearing Yunus’s delicate, handmade designs.


Marvel releases trailer for Mohamed Diab-directed series ‘Moon Knight’

Marvel releases trailer for Mohamed Diab-directed series ‘Moon Knight’
Updated 18 January 2022

Marvel releases trailer for Mohamed Diab-directed series ‘Moon Knight’

Marvel releases trailer for Mohamed Diab-directed series ‘Moon Knight’

DUBAI: Marvel unveiled this week the trailer and release date for its upcoming series “Moon Knight,” directed by Egyptian filmmaker Mohamed Diab. 

The show, in which actor Oscar Isaac stars as a superhero, will premiere on Disney+ on March 30.

Isaac plays the role of an ex-soldier, Marc Spector, who suffers from sleeping disorder. 

“I can’t tell the difference between my waking life and my dreams,” says the character in the trailer. 

The teaser shows that Spector also has an identity disorder, where at times he thinks he is another man named Steven.

After visiting a museum on ancient Egypt, he sees a vision of the Egyptian moon deity Khonshu and becomes his conduit. Spector then meets the villain, played by actor Ethan Hawke, who encourages him to embrace the darkness within himself.

Diab gave us gripping works like “Cairo 678,” “Clash” and most recently “Amira,” which screened at the Venice Film Festival in 2021, the El Gouna Film Festival and the MedFilm Festival in Rome, where it scooped up multiple prizes. 

“Moon Knight” also stars Bahrain-born actress May Calamawy, who acts in “Ramy,” the award-winning comedy series who’s lead character is Egyptian-American actor Ramy Youssef.