Tourism is big business. Big enough to change culture itself. Where there is a buck to be made, it will be made — as fast and as efficiently as possible. The architects of the capitalist world we live in are unstoppable, and cashed-up tourists are soft targets in this game.
And so, Old Tbilisi, the historic quarter at the very heart of the modern capital city of Georgia, is being changed beyond recognition. Transforming from a beautifully decaying authenticity, Old Tbilisi is becoming a shiny and hollow scintillation, filled with ever more opportunities to load up on cheap souvenirs and imported beer. Is this the birth of yet another tourist trap?
Go uphill on the little street past the carpet shop on the right. Take in the scent of flowers and herbs, and listen to the sound of running water as you open the gate at the top to the Botanical Gardens. Follow the steps up the side of the rocky hill to the Narikala Fortress. There isn’t much to see in the fortress itself, but the view is enjoyable. The golden, reflective roof of the Sameba (Holy Trinity) Cathedral winks in the distance. The serpentine path through the gardens carries visitors around the fortress, and up to the stairs that lead to the exit.