|Trip to Sighnaghi|
|May 30, 2008|
May 30, 2008
The view down the Alazani Valley stretches right to the horizon, and somewhere at the end, there are places where it is still winter.
Sighnaghi is a collection of narrow winding roads, and little houses littered with balconies, snuggled around the tower of St. George’s Church. The whole town is surrounded by a 4.5km long wall, complete with 27 towers and 7 arched gates. The charm and beauty of this place has earned it the title of the Town of Love. What better place to spend a summer weekend after a hard week at work in the city?
Minibuses (called ‘marshutkas’) to Sighnaghi depart from Navtlukhi station in Tbilisi, which is accessible by taking the subway to Samgori station. The marshutkas start running at 09:00 and continue shuttling back and forth until around 18:00. The journey takes about an hour and a half and costs GEL 5. They arrive in the center of Sighnaghi.
The Town of Love was recently been renovated and restored, creating a beautiful setting for restaurants and cafes. Unfortunately, not many have popped up yet, but the town is small enough to find everything you need quickly.
At the heart of the town is a square with fountain. A wedding house sits on the edge of the square which runs 24 hours a day, just in case the town of love proves too romantic for you to wait.
Off the square, a cobblestone road leads up to ‘Old Men’s Park’, a major meeting place in Sighnaghi. To the right of the park is the Sighnaghi Museum, which had recently been the recipient of exhibits previously only shown in the National Museum in Tbilisi. The museum opens at 11.30 and closes at 18.30. Entrance costs GEL 1.50 for adults and GEL 1.00 for children and students. A guided tour in English is available, although it is best to ask for this later in the day, to make sure the guide is there.
Another cobblestone road from the park takes you down to St. George’s Church. Further down the road, you can stop for lunch in a famous Georgian restaurant with a great view of the town of Tsnori.
If you can’t bear to leave Signagi, you can stay in one of its guesthouses from around GEL 20 per person per night. The town’s main hotel ‘Hotel Signagi’ was the only one in town until May 25 this year, and overlooks the Old Men’s Park. An apartment there costs GEL 300 and standard suite costs GEL 170. Breakfast is included.
On May 25, President Saakashvili opened three new hotels in Sighnaghi that are, according to locals, more fashionable than the old one. If guests want to have breakfast, they should do so in the hotels, as life in Sighnaghi doesn’t start until after 10.30am. Most cafes do not start serving food until later.
An open-air tour bus takes visitors round Sighnaghi, which costs GEL 1, and starts touring around 09:00 or 10:00, depending on the driver that day. The bus continues to circuit as long as it has tourists to take. For a more romantic tour, a horse drawn carriage is available, and also costs GEL 1. Both the bus and the carriage depart from the fountain in the square.
Marshutkas depart for Tbilisi every two hours from the fountain, from about 09:00 until 18:00, although the drivers take a break from 13:00-16:00.
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