Photography

To Tbilisi from Tel Aviv

by Ross Belfer | 18.05.17

As adopted Tel Avivians, we are curious and restless beings by nature. It is in our DNA to explore the world, fleeing our beloved city only to return with new inspiration, absorption of ideas, practices and rituals of living that are taking shape in creative communities around the globe — and to implement into our own lifestyle and urban fabric as a melting pot of ideas, different nationalities and perspectives.

Since it’s nearly impossible to drive from Tel Aviv to any bordering countries, we look outwards — past the seas near and far, to wet our pallet and quench our appetite for the great unknown.

Much to my surprise, the floating notions are true: Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia and cultural mecca of the country, can be compared to a distant cousin or step-sister of Tel Aviv. Following years of civil and regional conflict, Tbilisi has emerged into a similar form as Tel Aviv, with its bi-annual Mercedes Benz fashion week as a culmination for the homegrown talent designing their way onto the national spotlight (Djaba Diassamidze, Mariam Gvasalia); a thriving culinary scene that now boasts contemporary spins off of staple Georgian dishes (Ezo, Keto and Kote, The Kitchen at Rooms Hotel Tbilisi; Azarphesha); ravaged buildings that have been restored to an original splendor, including the National Opera House; and of course, a raging nightlife scene that boasts a discerning selection of nightclubs, bars, music venues and beyond that rival the biggest in Europe, without the steep prices for drinks that you can bury you in Tel Aviv.

As the guest of Rooms Hotels and its flagship Rooms Hotel Tbilisi and Rooms Hotel Kazbegi, along with the über-hip FABRIKA boutique hostel, I found myself comparing and contrasting Tbilisi to Tel Aviv throughout my visit, sewing the thread between two cultures that are vastly different, but somehow built with the same mechanisms that can drive a cultural enclave into the global spotlight.

In between techno-filled bouts at Bassiani nightclub and Café Gallery; a classical ballet performance at the opulent National Opera House with its 3.5-ton chandelier delicately dressing the main auditorium; and even a 24-hour crash-visit to Kazbegi, replete with a helicopter ride with Kazbegi Helicopters over Mount Kazbek, there is much to be adorned, savored and contemplated on the relationship between Tbilisi and Tel Aviv, and the intangible attraction that sets the mind ablaze with inspiration and discovery.

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