With t-minus one day (give or take a couple of hours, depending on your time zone) left of our looooong vacation, I thought it was high-time to give back and share a few travel tips for families with babies or young kids. If it wasn’t entirely obvious by now, both mother and child in our little family has been bitten by the proverbial travel bug. Whether it’s a quickie getaway or an indefinitely long holiday trip (try five months!), stay tuned for the Daily Koko Travel Tips series to help you get planning.
First up is the fascinating city of Tbilisi, capital of Georgia (the country, not the state). I’ve been to several places in my life, but there’s nothing quite like it.
1. Stay In
The city is best seen on foot, or through the efficient subway system, so it’s advisable to stay within the center of it all. The Marriott Hotel has stunning views and a convenient location, but it might not be comfortable for very young kids. If a fully-equipped kitchen is one of your requirements, a serviced apartment is a great choice.
The layout of Tbilisi’s Old Town is largely intact with its old-style balconies, ancient churches, winding streets, and charming shops. The stretch between Freedom Square and Rustaveli Avenue make for a leisurely morning walk. For stunning panoramic views of the city the crumbling ruins of Narikala Fortressis the best spot. It is a steep and challenging climb (doable, sans baby). Fortunately, there’s an aerial tramway for the rest of us high-maintenance crowd.
3. Side Trip
Venture out of the capital and take a day trip to Mtskheta, a UNESCO world heritage site. Pay a visit to the Jvari Monastery, a quaint 6th-century architectural wonder of extraordinary importance to the Georgians.
4. Stroller vs Carrier
If this isn’t the Mom Dilemma of the Century!
Tbilisi is an ancient city. It is extremely well-preserved, yet ancient nonetheless. There are plenty of crumbling cobbled roads, stairs, and narrow passages. I brought a Bugaboo Bee and wouldn’t fit in the metro entrance! It had to be dragged along the insanely fast-moving escalator (a death-defying act, I tell you). Don’t make the same mistake as me. Use a sturdy, structured baby carrier. If for any reason you insist on taking a stroller, take something with large wheels and good suspension. It will hold up very well against the rough roads… Just don’t take it to the subway.
Highchairs and baby boosters are virtually unheard of in Tbilisi, so better practice eating with one hand. Actually, this might be the only time a stroller can save your life. In our case, the Marco Polo Restaurant in Rustaveli Avenue and the Funicular Restaurantprovided us the most comfortable dining experiences.
6. What to Buy
It is not typically a shopping destination, but flea markets and specialty shops abound. Popular souvenirs are Georgian liquor, craft items, carpets, antiques, and (interestingly enough) Soviet-era paraphernalia.
7. Packing List
The trendy Rustaveli Avenue in the city center houses plenty of shops and supermarkets. Anything you need (or forgotten to pack) would easily be available. Since you are going to do a lot of walking while baby-wearing, it is best to pack light.