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Story: On touchdown in Tbilisi (Tuh-bil-ee-see – say it with confidence and you’ ll be okay) I was greeted with a swig of wine and a real-life black bear. The former was thrust upon me by relatives of a girl I’d sat next to on the plane, the latter stared out at me menacingly from a large glass box labelled ‘confiscated items’. My unpredictable arrival more or less set the tone for a trip full of surprises. I’d heard that Tbilisi was on track to be the ‘new Berlin’, a label which seems to be rolled out every time an ex-Communist city starts developing its creative elements (Budapest was also a beneficiary.) It’s a comparison I find both unimaginative and irritating. So here I was, fuelled by booze and determined not to discover the new Berlin, but instead hopefully explore a cool city carving out its own trajectory, having thrown off around 70 years of Soviet rule in 1991…

This article appears in Volume 16: The Spirit Issue. Read the full story here.

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