Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tbilisi Tips: Water Park Fun

So there is an indoor/outdoor water park on the Tbilisi Sea (a little landlocked reservoir). Gino Paradise is a recently built water park. Clarissa and I visited it over the summer, both kids and I went over Christmas break with a group, and this weekend we all four were able to go. It was the perfect cold and snowy weather day activity. We stayed about 4 hours and there were not very many people there with us.

In the winter, four main areas are open. There is the kids pool area. It has 3 slides, which were perfect sized for Clarissa but still fun enough for Mason. The lifeguards do not let parents go down the slides though.

There is also a giant bucket of water that dumps periodically. Clarissa was funny when we first got there. She would wait for the bucket to dump, then run up the stairs to go down the slide, then wait again.....she got dumped on once (must have mis-timed it) and after that she was fine.

They have a really large pool (I think it is called the relaxation pool). There is some in-water seating around the sides. They have a number of fountain features that alternate and sometimes it is just still water. The hexagon shape turns on for a water fall. Past the floaties, there are a couple poles, they shoot out a shower of water. The in water seating will also bubble up/massage your back.

Here is a video of some of the fountain fun.

Uhhh, apparently you will have so much fun you will want to lick the floaties? (You can also see the water fall to the left of me)

You could also view the snow covered mountains in the distance from the windows in this room.

There is also a hot tub in the boat. The boat looks like an old pirate ship and is surrounded by the lazy river (which is closed in the winter). The water is real nice and it a huge hot tub (hot pool might be a better was probably about 3 meters wide and 5 meters long). Around the whole perimeter there is in-water seating. There is also a cycle of different power bubbles coming from different zones of the hot pool. We didn't get any decent photos in this area. It has very low lighting (no windows).

The last area open in the winter.....the tower of tubes! There are 6 different tubes. Red is SUPER fast! In fact, their website says you can achieve speeds of 59.8 km/h. The skin I lost from the back of my leg can confirm the speed The black tube is pitch dark, with the occasional strobe light or flash of light through a tiny star shaped window and Mason said music (X-files song) is playing. The blue slides are the slow ones (we were able to ride down those with Clarissa in our laps). The orange and yellow tubes are in the middle speed wise. The only drawback to the super long slides of the tower of tubes, is the walk up to the slides. I would say it is probably 5 or 6 flights in the giant circular staircase to get to the fun. Their website also touts the slides are the highest in Eastern Europe and longest combined distance track in the Caucasus region.

Richard got a video of him cruising down the slow blue slide (must use our go-pro!), but the slide is sooooo long the 1 minute ride is too large of a file to upload.

The locker room is really nice. Upon paying, you are given a wrist band. The wrist band can be used to lock your locker. (You can also lock an additional mini-locker at the tower of slides in case you have any prohibited items. The life guard did not want Clarissa wearing her pool vest and Mason wearing his rash guard, so we stowed them in the mini locker). The locker rooms also have private changing areas and showers as well.

In the summer, you can use the wave pool (with a rock climbing wall during the non-wave times), the lazy river I mentioned earlier, sand volleyball court, olympic pool, and outdoor gym equipment. During the summer you can also get an outside area only pass. The wrist band will open turnstiles to the different areas allowed by what package you have purchased.

There is also a wellness spa, but given I have had the kids with me every time I go, I have not upgraded to a VIP or Excellent package to check out all those treats (all types of saunas, a 24K gold chair to lounge in, hot stone couches, etc).

Details: Gino Paradise

Address: Near the Tbilisi sea

Coordinates: N41°44.541’ E44°49.838’  

Telephone: (+995) 322 15 85 85



Open from 12:00 to 23:00

For the business package: Kids 6 and under are free. Kids 7-12 are 27 GEL for 3 hours. Adults are 39 GEL for 3 hours. 

They accept credit cards for payment. We bring cash for the snack stands though.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tbilisi Tips: Carpet Store

So given Georgia is at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, there are some Asian-influenced aspects of life. One of them being the availability of carpets. There are numerous shops, some in more touristy regions with a reputation for being pricey. A co-worker of Richard's set up an early Saturday morning visit to a reputable rug shop. The owner had agreed to not only open early, but to talk to us about how the different patterns are indicative of the different regions the rugs were made.

A bit of insight we got about pricing of Georgian carpets. In places like Istanbul, carpet prices are marked up real high with the the knowledge you will barter and haggle to bring the price down. In Tbilisi, the carpets are priced close to retail and you may be able to barter a little bit (my in-laws paid cash and got $50 off).

Another tip on carpet price points is associated with age. New rugs are more expensive, as are rugs that are more than 100 years old. Rugs between 50 and 100 years are the magic price point. They have lost their newness, but are not quite antique yet!

The carpet staff will pull out rug after rug. Talking about the styles and areas made. Each one has a different pattern/colors used, so you never know what is going to catch a person's eye. And with piles of rugs over 5 feet tall all around the perimeter of the shop, there are plenty to see.

Don't believe me....Richard is 6 foot.....see those stacks of carpets are over 5 feet tall!

Once you see some you like, they will take you outside so you can see the rug in a different light.

Some times older rugs need repairing. They do this as well. It is amazing watching someone able to repair/follow the pattern.

On our early Saturday morning visit, they pulled out a lot of rugs (about 20 of us showed up). A lot of the rugs were predominately red, which while pretty were not my favorite. Then a purple rug caught my eye! I showed it to Richard.  We took it outside to get a better look......yep, we both liked it! A couple of the corners were tattered, so they had to do some repair before we could take it home. We picked it up about a week later. Here is the first rug we got.

The carpet was made in Marneuli, an area in the south eastern part of the Georgia, and the designed is based on an orthodox church. The carpet is made of wool.

There was a year woven into the top right. Which gives us an approximate age based on 1932!

Here is the rug my in-laws got. It is from eastern Turkmenistan. It is also made of wool and is approximately a 100 years old. It is a tekke bokhara style that was made by nomadic tribes of Turkmen. 

Richard and I went back on President's day (joy of international schools....the kids have school and we could go play!) and picked up another rug.  This rug is new and made from all natural dyed wool. It is handmade from the Tusheti region (north-eastern region) of Georgia.

They have a number of silk rugs. Those are from Iran, they don't make silk rugs in Georgia. Being silk they are a little pricier.  They also sell new, hand embroidered tapestries and pillow covers. Note the tapestry behind mason....the red fruits are pomegranates.

Details: Caucasian Carpets Gallery

8/10 Erekle II Street (They are on a pedestrian street near Sioni Church) 

Phone Number: (+995 577) 40 53 11


They are open everyday from 10:00 - 20:00.

They do accept mastercard and visa but prefer cash.

It is easy to spot once you find the street. Clarissa is 'modeling' some of the rugs on display outside. I really like the diversity of patterns available in caucasian rugs.....