Ashley Sytsma, Rick's publicist, is a guest writer this week. She's reporting on her travels to Georgia the one over by Russia. When I heard Tbilisi was known for its ancient bath houses, I put them high on my sightseeing list.
Who wouldn't love a relaxing spa day? But I had no idea what I was in for.
Georgia's capital was founded thanks to one thing: According to legend, 1, years ago King Vakhtang was hunting with his trusty falcon. Injured while catching a pheasant, the falcon fell into a small pool.
The bird's body was retrieved The poor creature was boiled to death. The king decided this would be the perfect place to pass the cold winters. He called it "Tbilisi," or "warm place.
Ever since then, people of all classes and creeds have soaked, bathed, and warmed themselves in large, brick bath houses here. The one we chose for our adventure was hundreds of years old, and its facade was covered in bright-blue tiles.
It looked more like a mosque than a giant hot tub. With bathing suits in hand, my husband and I trotted in.
This spa was different from those back home.
There was no calming music or iced cucumber water, no perky hostess waiting to give us a tour of the facilities. Instead we walked up to a small office set behind glass. The lobby, while sparkling clean, smelled of stale cigarettes.
A bustling beauty parlor was tucked into the corner.
In broken English, the office worker barked, "No man-woman together in group rooms. Together only in private rooms.
While I waited, my husband ran upstairs to check out the men's area. He came down and giggled, "Let's get a private room. That is, unless you want to relax with year-old naked men smoking cigarettes and drinking beer. Our private room was actually two large rooms with a dressing area and a toilet.
It was very clean but dingy, with modern and Soviet-era tiles.