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What to do in Tbilisi (part I)

11:40 AM
Hi, guys! I finally collected and edited all of my pictures to write this blog post. I have promised you that will show you my new home. Well, living in a capital city can be a bit overwhelming, and yet super fun. For the previous 2 years, we got to experience a quiet life by living in some charming cities in the United States. I am finally happy to say that our life in the capital is extremely busy with lots going on! I love how busy I stay, how many people I meet, and being able to travel to other countries. 

In today's blog post, I want to share what you can do in Tbilisi. The city may look small, but there is still a ton of stuff to do. You can't even imagine! I pretty much did most of the important stuff that you would find on TripAdvisor, and then a whole lot more. Let's begin.

1. Visit the Museum of Georgia. I believe we paid about 7 lari ($2.9) per person. It was quite a nice museum. The Museum offers different exhibitions, from Georgian archeologic treasures, to exhibits on the Soviet Occupation. Think of it as their version of the American Smithsonian Museums, except much smaller and housed under one roof.

2. The Smirnoff Family Museum in the "Caucasian House." We entered this museum for free. I am not even sure if they have an admission charge. Since I grew up learning Russian History and literature in my childhood, this place was very interesting for me. The Smirnoff Family was quite connected to Russian history and culture.

3. Bridge of Peace. This bridge is quite popular for its modern design and serving as a connection to Rike Park over the Kura River. Many Tbilisians go there to relax or take a cable car. I have to admit that I still haven't taken this cable car over Old town. Since we arrived, the tourist season has been in full swing, and the cable car is just always busy. I am going to wait for the fall season.
4. Sulphur Baths.  I passed on the chance to enjoy these ancient public baths, but it is quite popular among tourist because of the natural thermal water. You can come to relax and sweat in a hot sauna. Afterwards, take a massage for extra lari. I heard that they are 5 different sulphur baths in town. Beware that it might smell weird to you, as thermals water usually have a specific scent. 

5. Love Lock Bridge. To find this bridge is quite easy. You just have to pass the Sulphur baths. I didn't leave our lock, but I'm planning to do it for our anniversary. Well, my husband is probably reading this now, so I guess it won't be a surprise. 

6. Waterfall in Old Town. You would be amazed to find this amazing waterfall in the heart of the city. The Leghvtakhevi Waterfall is really cool. I heard that you can make a wish there, which my sister did, and she said it came true. I guess I need to visit again and make my wish ;)

7. Tbilisi Sea. Yes, there is no actual sea in the city, but locals call it the "sea." It is really an artificial lake that was opened in 1953. I brought my family there during hot days in Tbilisi. The reservoir is quite big and we were able to enjoy it from two different sides. Aside from beaches, the lake features a waterpark, boat rentals, and other activities. 

8. History of Georgia Monument or The Chronicle of Georgia. This monument is quite impressive, and when you visit Tbilisi Sea, you will be able to see it dominating the landscape from atop a hill. When we hiked up, we didn't initially realize how tall this monument would be. 30 meter columns feature queens, kings, heroes of Georgia. On the top, you can also find a beautiful church and two restaurants. I would advise you to bring your own bottle of wine and walk towards the forest, because it has a beautiful view of the city.

9. Old Town. I love wondering in Old Town, because of its breathtaking architecture. It is the undisputed best place for Instagrammers or Photographers. I can spend hours here and still not be able to see everything that the city offers.

10. Former Hotel London. Luckily, I got a chance to visit this former hotel twice. Why luckily? Because the residents of the house are not happy to see any tourists inside. They use locks on the door, and even if you wait and ask a resident to come inside, you will not be welcomed there. This place is quite incredible, because of the history, architecture and angry residents. I wish that the residents were just charging admission, so the money that they got from tourists could be used t renovate the building and improve their lives a bit.

11. Historical Houses. Tbilisi has a lot of historical house. Some of them have especially beautiful entrances. I found several houses in Tbilisi that are noteworthy. They were not very easy for me to find, because many doors are closed or name of streets have changed. But luckily, a few residents were super sweet and even shared the stories of their houses.

12. Gabriadze Theatre. This theatre is not only famous for its unique clock, but also for puppet performances. The theatre was designed by Gabriadze himself (artist, writer, director). Near the theatre, you can find a lot of cute cafes where you can enjoy delicious Georgian wine and food. 

4 Ways to stop worrying about Social Media Counts

12:45 AM
Hey, guys! How have you been? Today's blog post is about how dirty and toxic the Instagram game has turned, and what to do if you are depressed or uninspired.

Last year, when everyone was placing attention on their Instagram following as being most important, I started to have struggles, and trying to grow my followers made my life miserable. Sound familiar? I was glued to my cell phone 24 hours. Competition between bloggers went to a weird and uncomfortable level.

Instagram used to be a creative platform for people to learn or express who they are. It's turned into a dirty blogger race. The authenticity is slowly disappearing. Reaching high numbers creates a big hunger for money, ultimately turning us into zombies, who advertise skinny tea or to become part of the skinny coffee club (sorry, I don't blame you if you did advertise for them). Personally, I even tried this "skinny" tea. It caught my attention while seeing how other bloggers promoted it by saying it's healthy, or that it helps to lose some weight, even though no one shared how unpleasant it can be. Oh man, I don't even want to think how many hours I spent in my bathroom, cursing all the bloggers who said it tasted good! LOL.

My point is, Facebook knew Instagram was a gold mine of untapped revenue, and encouraged the growth of our industry to the point it was undermining the original qualities that made it both fun and profitable. FB's headquarters started to brainstorm over what they could do to make companies pay them money for advertising instead of influencers. They made Instagram even more complicated, and people started to get depressed. I know a few bloggers who even gave up because the race for followers made them feel unhealthy.

What to do if you feel uninspired or depressed:

1. Travel and Discover

I, along with my husband, packed our bags and decided to travel across the country. While seeing a series of beautiful cities, I noticed that I stopped using my cell phone. My Instagram problem became the least of my worries. Plus, traveling can create a lot of content for your blog and social media.

2. Get Social

Since I just moved to a new country, making new friends can be hard. But Instagram lets people meet in real life. While living here for almost 2 months, I made a few friends with whom I hang out every week. Life has been better. I have more free time to do what I want to do while not worrying about Instagram problems.

3. Control Yourself

There are some apps that can help you see how often you use your phone, and maybe it will help you stop staring at your phone. I have been using "Moment -Screen  Time Tracker".

4. Care about what matters most

For me: Relationships, Friendships, Health

Instagram was compromising my sleep, because I was glued to my phone. I paid less attention to my husband, while playing on my phone and trying to decide what to publish. I talked less with my friends because I thought that I had something more important and my eyesight got worse after staying on my phone at night.

I hope these few tips will help you not worry about Social Media Counts, and we are all able find more time to stay healthier and happier!

How to travel Grand Canyon in 1 day

12:17 PM
With our daily lives so hectic and jam-packed, it's always good to pause and appreciate the wonders that Mother Nature has gifted to us. I have always wanted to visit the Grand Canyon. We thought that we shouldn't miss our chance to drive there while living in California. Of course, time flew by so quickly, we didn't find a chance to go. After a few rounds of canceled travel plans, we finally got our chance to experience a taste of the majestic Grand Canyon.

I am going to share with you how we covered the Grand Canyon in one day. It is silly to say that you can see the Grand Canyon in one day, when in fact, the Grand Canyon is too huge to cover in even a week. At least we drove the popular South Rim before we left America. I am pretty sure that I will return and bring our future children there. While writing this blog post and looking at the souvenir map we kept, I got the feeling like we were driving there again ;)

Since we drove from the East coast to the West, our start point was Flagstaff, Arizona. From there, we started our journey to the Grand Canyon. We got up very early, before even the sunrise, and drove on 89-Hwy, turning to 64-Hwy, which led us to the South Rim. Our first stop was the Najavo Tribal Park (to find more info about park click here).  To enter Navajo Tribal Park, you need to pay $5 per car for the 1st viewpoint. It was my first "Wow" moment, because I didn't realize how big the Grand Canyon was going to be. No travel show, picture, movie, or description can really prepare you for the immensity and grandeur you will see. From then on, I wanted to stop at every single view point. We continued our adventure to the Desert View Watch Tower. The Watch Tower is a replica of a prehistoric Indian tower, built in 1932. Sadly, it was closed when we arrived, but at least we got a beautiful view of the Canyon for ourselves. Most tourists start their trip from Grand Canyon Village (located at the drive's opposite end). We pretty much had the place all to us. Our only companion was a gigantic elk wandering in the empty parking lot. We snaked along the rim, constantly stopping, and simply enjoying the beauty of the drive. Later on, we arrived to Grand Canyon Village to have a small break for breakfast. The reason we decided to have breakfast at El Tovar Hotel, was because the previous night in Flagstaff, we randomly met with a young woman at dinner, who told us that the best place to enjoy breakfast is at the El Tovar Hotel. Because she works there, we can get best seats. And we did! Always talk to the strangers, you never know what they do ;). At the historic and rustic El Tovar Hotel, you will not only enjoy the food, but also you can get a graceful view of the Canyon.

After a mouthwatering breakfast of waffles, omelets, fresh trout, and fruit, we decided to leave our car and take the free shuttle that goes to the various Vista Points. Taking a bus made it an easy trip for us, because we got to see all of these breathtaking view points. To find more information about the bus click here. After a really long day, we finally returned back to Visitor Center to have a small break and watch a film about the canyon that was free. After the movie, we got quite hungry and decided to snack at Bright Angel Cafe, conveniently located at Mather Point. One can rent bicycles there too. Their sandwiches and coffee hit the spot!

After our quick bite, we decided to drive to our next destination. I was in awe and incredibly thankful to be able to see the Grand Canyon with my own eyes! What is your dream travel destination?

What to see and to do in Ankara, Turkey

9:10 AM

Hello guys,

How have you been? It has been a while since I last wrote a travel blog post.  A few days ago, I travelled to Turkey for the first time. I was super excited for my trip, because my plan was to visit the capital city -Ankara. Ankara is the second largest city after Istanbul in Turkey. Most tourists start their travels in Turkey from Istanbul and other tourist sites. Of course, many travelers skip the capital city thinking there is nothing to see. However, I think it's worth a visit. Here are a few things you can do if you plan to go to Ankara:

The mausoleum for the former Turkish leader, Ataturk, is really huge and impressive. Honor guards stand still like wax statues. Plan to spend about 1-2 hours to walk around, and visit the museum where you can learn about the beginning years of the modern Turkish Republic. The museum offers 4 sections where you can take pictures of art and exhibitions.

Museum of Anatolian Civilization
To enter the museum, you have to go through a check point where a security guard will check you and your belongings (pretty normal there actually).  The ticket costs 29 Lira /$8 per person. In the Anatolian Civilization museum, there are a number of exhibits featuring Anatolian archeology. My favorite exhibit showcased Hacilar Ceramics.

Kocatepe Camii
The largest mosque in Ankara is located in the center of the city. We visited the mosque closer to the evening, when no one was in there. We had the chance to walk around and enjoy a peaceful moment to ourselves. You will be fascinated by the modern architecture of the mosque. The rules didn't seem particularly strict. Men and women walked around, and young people reclined on the floor, gazing at their smart phone screens.

Ankara Citadel
In case you plan to take a cab to the castle, make sure to use a map or say to the taxi driver "Hisar" or "Ankara Kale." Most taxi drivers don't speak English. Make sure to know a few phrases in Turkish. We arrived to the citadel earlier in the morning, wandered in the twisting streets of the old neighborhood, and enjoyed a beautiful view of the city. I believe it is the most beautiful view of the city.

Haci Bayram Mosque
It was built during the Ottoman Empire period. I didn't have the chance to see the mosque inside, because when we came, it was during prayers hours. But before you enter the mosque compound, you have to go through a security check point.  Then you can sit at restaurants and enjoy some delicious Turkish cuisine. After the prayers were over, my husband ventured inside to check things out and discreetly snap a few pics.

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