Full disclosure: I don't particularly like Vake or Saburtalo. I will go to particular restaurants or cafes IN Vake or Saburtalo, on occasion, but I find the chain stores and modern apartment blocks to be a perfect waste of a melancholy-historic-poetic city.
But it's still rare for me to cross the Mtkvari river. There's little there by way of tangible destinations, with the exception of the Sameba Cathedral, the National Music Centre, and the Cafe Flowers, where I am willing to risk regular food poisoning in order to experience this view:
Definitely worth food poisoning.
But, by and large, I tend to avoid crossing the river, which is a great shame. When it comes to long, aimless walks, stretches of Avlabari are some of the most beautiful in Tbilisi* (I once wandered into what appeared to be a pine forest about five minutes from the river, and still for the life of me can't figure out how I got there!) The walk up to Trinity Cathedral is among my favored Saturday-morning activities, and it's a wonderful mechanism for head-clearing and pretending that I'm Exploring Somewhere Remote without running into Ray-Ban stores or Geocell shops.
I don't often go to the David Agmashenebeli/Marjanishvili area (I avoid McDonalds on principle) - I don't mind it, particularly, but since I do nothing all day but read books and write novels/thesis, I might as well do said nothing in scenic spots.
That said, I had a very curious experience with the English Tea House on Marjanishvili Street. As a sometime-Englishwoman, I have a very precise idea of what an English tea house is. (Beamed ceilings, cramped quarters, heavy wooden tables, a roaring fire, sticky toffee pudding, a panting pub dog, G.K Chesterton smoking a pipe in the corner). This is precisely what the English Tea House isn't. Other than serving Whittard's tea, the English Tea House is, basically, the Anti-England. If it resembles anything English, it's that sort of horrendous "trendy" London chrome-and-glass, cheap-looking "business luxe" hotel my Very English Boyfriend is prone to bemoaning in the same breath as the Blair government and London transport.
It's enormous, drafty, sleek, cold, impersonal, and generally horrid:
|Do YOU see a pub dog anywhere?|
But I need more reasons to cross the river, friendslist! Send suggestions in my direction!