The elusive highchair

When moving to a place such as Tbilisi, it really makes you cherish things that you take for granted in Australia.

When wandering down to your local cafe in Australia, you really just take for granted, and assume (usually rightly so) that they will have a highchair or two ready for you. Definately at shopping centres and any of the suburban cafes/restaurants. Possibly not in a busy mid-city cafe, or a fancy-pants restaurant (but really, if I’ve got a baby old enough to be in a high chair, even this clingy mama would be leaving my baby at home for that occasion…).

Finding a highchair in a cafe over here is like searching for a hidden treasure. At the music class we attend on a Friday, I sat around with the other ex-pat mums and had a discussion on which few cafes & restaurants in town were owners of such a treasure. I actually went to a cafe the other day on the sole basis that I saw a highchair through the window whilst walking past. It could have served me a weak, lukewarm disgusting coffee and it would have tasted like a million dollars because my never-stops-moving toddler sat still – IN THE ONE PLACE – and ate his bread roll QUIETLY. AHHHH-MAZZZINNNNGGG! This was the FIRST time that this has happened (in a cafe..) since we have been in Tbilisi.

Usually what happens at a coffee shop: Me trying to get toddler to sit still on chair, then chasing said toddler around cafe, attempting to stop him from going behind the counter, gulping down my Americano coffee while he spills croissant and milk everywhere. It’s not relaxing. At all. It’s just a coffee fix. And the croissant or bread roll is the bribe to try and get him to sit still long enough for me to drink coffee.

Funny story.. A few weeks ago, I told my husband I was exhausted as I don’t get a single chance during the day to just relax. He says to me – ‘but didn’t you go for coffee today? That’s relaxing.’ He got a massive death stare, ‘THAT? That is not relaxing, that was getting coffee’.  So last Saturday, Dadda and Bubba went out for their usual Saturday morning boys time,  and I went for a walk by myself. I met up with them a bit later, and I asked how their morning was. They had been to Entree cafe, and my husband said to me with this horrified look: ‘I didn’t even get a chance to finish my coffee!’. I just smiled and said ‘So not so relaxing then is it?’.

I digress…

We also went out to dinner on Saturday night – I called two restaurants that I had been informed had highchairs. Number 1 (Thai place) didn’t have one (and realistically, the bubba wouldn’t have eaten any thai food…).Number 2… Winner! Success! “Special chair for Baby” booked (and really hoping it was a highchair..), we were on our way! Such a lovely peaceful meal – the place Pomodorissimo is on Chavchavadze Ave and serves Italian food. It also has a non-smoking area, which is not standard over here, and had a TV with Animal Planet channel on. What could be more perfect to entertain an Animal-loving toddler! We had THE most peaceful and lovely meal out, (ie. that I didn’t have to cook). I didn’t even care that all Bubba ate was french fries, juice and ice-cream, while we had Risotto, grilled vegies, Pizza and beer. It was a special night out!

So things are looking up, highchair wise. Funny thing about the cafe I previously mentioned, and the restaurant we went to – they are next door to each other, and the restaurant actually just borrows the highchair at night time.. Seriously, they need an IKEA or Aldi here, thats all the cafes in Aus use!! 🙂

EDIT: SERIOUSLY!! ???? One week on, the cafe I mentioned is now under construction and I have no idea when or if it will open again. Urgghhhh hunt back on.


Tbilisi friendliness

So far, I have found most people in Tbilisi to be quite friendly (unless in traffic…) and more often than not will want to stop and give you advice about your child (which I can’t understand anyway and so I smile and nod, ‘Madloba, Nahkvamdis”) .

Every single time that Bubba and I are out walking, with him cuddled up to me in the Manduca carrier, I have numerous old ladies come up to me, talking and gesturing at Bubba and trying to lean in and kiss him – while he is strapped to my chest!! I try and fend them off, as I don’t really want him catching anything! Bubba also helps deflect this, turning his head from side to side as they try and get at him. Poor boy.

Additionally, in any shop (supermarket, café, clothing store) if he is walking away from me or running around, people will just pick him up to give him back to me – which he HATES – he is in a very clingy stage for Mumma and hates other people picking him up!

So, Bubba and I went out for a walk on Saturday, down to Rustaveli Ave as ‘Dadda’ was away for a few days. So I did my usual Pram juggle down the stairs, and had a lovely morning walk down to Entrée, cosying up with a coffee and croissant for morning tea (and Wiggles on the iPad for Bubba so this Mumma could feel like I was also getting a break). The lovely girl at Entrée (who Bubba loves) ran over and helped carry him up and down the stairs while I carried the pram in.

Coffee, Milk & Danish at Entree, Rustaveli

Coffee, Milk & Danish at Entree, Rustaveli

Afterwards, I took the pram back outside and attempted to wrangle the excitable Bubba back in the pram. Wellllll…. He wasn’t having a bar of it! This little mister has one helluva temper on him and a massive set of lungs, kicking and screaming and arching his back – anything but going into the pram! So Tbilisi being Tbilisi, I had one dodgy looking man stop and start talking and pointing at the pram…. I don’t know what he was saying, maybe he was even trying to buy it off me, No idea…  but I think my death stare scared him away pretty quick… Sooo, rather than fight it, I let Bubba walk alongside the pram, and of course, straight away he ran the other way… So then a couple of old men tried to run after him – which scared him even more – although at least it made him run back to me “Mumma!! Mumma!’’ !!

We eventually got moving in the right direction, (stopping & trying to pick up dog poo that is all over every sidewalk here – Bubba, that is, not me..) and I decided that since he wasn’t in the pram anyway, we would go through the underpass to a park with a playground over the other side of the road near the Marriott Hotel. So I carried the pram and bubba down the stairs, wheeled pram over to other side and was about to carry pram and let bubba walk up, as he LOVES to walk up stairs.

He didn’t even get a chance! ….. an old lady had come down the stairs, saw us, grabbed Bubba, and proceeded to “run” with him up the stairs, with him kicking and screaming and me running after her with pram saying “What are you doing!? He can walk!!!!”. She got to the top, put him down (with him running to me crying “Mumma mumma”) and just toddled off back downstairs again.

I do realise she thought she was helping me out, but when you come from a culture where just picking up random kids is a bit of a no-no, you do get a bit panicky when someone just runs off with your baby without saying a word to you!!

In all, it is nice living in a place where people just give you a hand without you having to ask – I no longer worry about heading out with the pram as I know that if needed, random people will just give me a hand lifting the pram up and down the few stairs that we go up.

Walking down Rustaveli Ave, Tbilisi

Walking down Rustaveli Ave, Tbilisi


Start of our walk near , Chavchavadze Ave, beautiful day!

Start of our walk near , Chavchavadze Ave, beautiful day!

pram love.

I am pleased to report that with a little planning and juggling, my first outing with our pram in Tbilisi was a success!

Firstly, the planning of how to carry baby, pram and a bag of rubbish down a flight of steep stairs with a small door to squeeze through at the bottom to the road. Ok. Leave baby in apartment peering out the door yelling “mama?? mama?” while quickly take pram down stairs, come back for baby & rubbish, lock door, back downstairs, set pram up outside, baby in pram, gloves on, hat on, and off we go! Step 1, Done.

Walk into town, maneuvering a couple of steps up and down here or there, walk on road dodging a few cars here and there, then cross at the only on-road lights crossing between us and the main street (Rustaveli Ave), and smile at all of the Georgian’s giving me and the pram very strange looks. For good reason, not many people take babies out by themselves in prams here without someone to help carry the pram up and down steps!

Morning on Rustaveli Ave

Morning on Rustaveli Ave

We made it to Prospero’s cafe and as planned, left pram in courtyard while baby and I had a celebratory coffee! (Its ok, I had the coffee, and we shared a carrot muffin).

Baby fell asleep on the return walk, so after stopping to buy some mandarins at the corner fruit stall, I stopped & pondered how I would juggle getting a sleeping baby and pram back upstairs while keeping him asleep. In Australia I used to just drive the pram inside the house and leave him sleeping while I did housework (ok, realistically, I sat down and had a lovely time to myself). I ended up leaving baby in pram at the bottom of the stairs while I raced upstairs, unlocked the door (bit fiddly, needs two hands), raced back downstairs, got baby out of pram, took upstairs into cot, back downstairs to get pram. Unfortunately baby woke up. Oh well. I’ll win some and lose some.

I love this doorway and gate in the pictures below – its just before the start of Chavchavadze Ave at the end of our walk.

Out walking with Baby Jogger along Chavchavadaze Ave

Out walking with Baby Jogger along Chavchavadaze Ave

At the start of Chavchavadze Ave

At the start of Chavchavadze Ave

London? Australia? Tbilisi?

In the coffee shop that I discovered today I could have been somewhere in London, or anywhere in Australia… but I definately didn’t think I was in Tbilisi! We had passed the sign to this book store almost every day on our walks, and peered down the little walkway, but was a little intimidated to try somewhere new by myself! But today I took a deep breath, and decided to man up and discover for myself… down the walkway and through the picturesque courtyard,  I surprisingly found an expat paradise, an almost entirely English book store, and cosy cafe inside.

Here I purchased a new picture book in the large Children’s section for my very excitable little boy, and chatted to an American family, in a place where everyone just assumed you spoke English. It was a little oasis from the busy Rustaveli Ave only metres away. If I can manage to juggle  my pram and the baby down the stairs from our apartment, it is a nice walk here and I would be able to park the pram in the courtyard whilst having a coffee … Mission for tomorrow (should I choose to accept it – sorry couldn’t help it…): pram walk to coffee shop and back.

Walkway through to Prospero's Books from Rustaveli Ave.

Walkway through to Prospero’s Books from Rustaveli Ave.

Afterwards, with a ‘bye bye, see you later’ we wandered back along Rustaveli Ave towards home (ok… via Zara and 2 pairs of jeans on sale…), the baby fell asleep in the Manduca (as expected!) and I was able to buy a cheese bread from a hole-in-the-wall bakery with a “Gamarjoba, Madloba, Nakhvamdis”, and wander home to put baby into bed.

What an unexpected but lovely morning outing.

morning coffee..

Not sure what this street is called, but it goes from our apartment to our cafe, so henceforth is "cafe street".

Not sure what this street is called, but it goes from our apartment to our cafe, so henceforth is “cafe street”.

I have been going for morning walks with baby in our Manduca carrier, as it is one of the only ways I can be guaranteed he will have a sleep during the day. Obviously good for my fitness – going for an hour / hour & a half walk with an 11.5kg baby strapped to my front or back. (I constantly rave about our baby carrier, and maintain that it was the best baby item we bought!)

We often will walk up one of the main streets (Chavchavadze Ave) in Vere and Vake districts and often come back via a cafe, where I can have my Americano coffee or green tea. My toddler gets some milk if he’s not asleep, and charms the staff.

Today I finally got my camera out and took a few snaps – also reminding myself that a photography course is on my list of “to do” – along with learn some basic Georgian so I don’t get ripped off by another taxi.

Today I also realised why the cafes here may not offer soy milk – the one option (Alpro Soya) is over 7Lari in the supermarket! (approx $4 / Litre) It may be cheaper for me to start ordering in my own supplies!!