Spurs fans guide to Tblisi
Posted on 20th August 2013
While our International Ground Guide is undergoing some maintenance ahead of the new season, we thought we’d provide our usual service of advice and information for travelling supporters in brief blog form.
Once up and running again our ground guide will cover all manner of information from travel options to hotel advice, eating and drinking suggestions to practical tips on getting around, along with safety and security advice and anything else we think will be of use to travelling supporters.
In the meantime, while the below might not necessarily have all the information you’ll be after if you’re heading out to Istanbul this week, we’re always available to help – just drop us an email if you have any questions.
We’ll do our best to find out what you need to know, either from our own vast experience in covering England and Wales games abroad, or from our friends at Football Supporters Europe.
Dinamo play their games in the Dinamo Arena, formerly known as the Boris Paichadze National Stadium (named after a former Georgian international player). With a capacity of just over 54,000 it can be an intimidating place to visit. The sightlines from the away end aren’t the best, particularly low down, largely down to the stadium following the ‘large bowl with a running track around the pitch’ style of construction.
Still, at least the seats are covered, and the stadium is reasonably centrally located in the city – to the north of the city centre on the eastern bank of the Mt’k’vari River – and easily reachable on the city’s metro system (the nearest station is Station Square 2 on the Red Line).
One of the most prominent clubs of the Soviet era, Dinamo Tblisi are now the major force in Georgian football, having won a record 14 titles since the inception of the Georgian League in 1990 (they’ve also finished runners-up on 6 occasions). Their major European success came in 1981 when they lifted the Uefa Cup Winners Cup, and they now appear regularly in the Europa League and Champions League qualifiers. They last reached the group stages in 2004 (Uefa Cup).
English fans may well be familiar with some of their former players – Georgi Kinkladze, Temuri Ketsbaia, Kakha Kaladze, Shota Arveladze and Levan Kobiashvili.
The airport is located around 10 miles to the southeast of the city – and the road that connects it to downtown is called George W Bush Avenue (we kid you not). There are infrequent train services connecting the airport with the city, so your best bet is either a taxi or one of the local mashrutka (small buses).
Being a capital city means there’s plenty to do if you fancy being a tourist for the day – the country’s Parliament, Supreme Court and a number of other important buildings are located here, including the Opera and Ballet Theatre, Sameba Cathedral, Narikala Fortress, Sioni Cathedral, Anchiskhati Cathedral, the Children’s Palace, the National Library and plenty of museums.
Getting around the city is fairly easy thanks to the the city’s metro system, which underwent a signifcant modernisation in the middle of the last decade. Like many former Soviet underground systems some of the stations are quite lavish, and trains run from around 6am to midnight. Taxis in downtown Tblisi aren’t the most reliable, so we’d recommend you get to where you want to go before the metros finish for the night.
A single trip on the metro costs 50 tatri (the Georgian currency is the Lari, which is divided into 100 tatri; the exchange rate is around 2.5 Lari to the pound, meaning your metro ride is about 20 pence) for your first journey, 30 tatri for the second, and 20 tatri for all subsequent journeys. To get around you need to purchase a card from the ticket desk for at least 2 Lari, similar to an Oyster card, and you can load this up with as much or as little as you like.
Even in Tblisi you’re not far from the salvation/curse of the Irish bar – there are a couple of expat-themed haunts, if that’s your thing: Dublin and Old London, both on Akhvlediani Street, off Rustaveli, are where to head to. Otherwise there are plenty of cafés and places to eat dotted throughout the city, as you would expect from any capital city, with a concentration around Freedom Square.