I can deny it no longer, you have to know this: I am in love with you. My heart aches with the all-consuming fire that you are burning inside me. I love you, I really do. I am dizzy with happiness for discovering you, but equally with sadness, as I know I must lose you soon. Hard and true you have hit me, as I have never known before.

Tbilisi, my darling, you have stolen my heart. You must share it, alas, but please do not be jealous. To feel for you as I do for Porto, Cape Town, Melbourne and San Francisco should be testament enough to your beauty, charm and the pure and innocent joy you have given me over the last four days. You are truly wonderful.

It was the grand magnificence of your vibrant pulse, your Rustaveli, which first awoke in me this long-forgotten passion. How Parisian you looked on that first morning, with your elegant streetlights and beautifully blossoming chestnut trees. How reassuring and heart-warming it was to see your world-weary Ladas stutter along your wide boulevards, how unpretentious you were. I strolled so easily with distraction on my mind and peace upon my face. Oh, what a first date you gave me – such promise, such hope, such anticipation for more.

I came to you as a wandering artist with his canvas blank, hoping to find inspiration but expecting grey brushstrokes and dark skies. As I stood atop your mighty vantage point, your fortress, your Narikala, you revealed yourself to me. You showed me your greens and your blues, your yesterdays and your today. You were beautiful, again. Your palaces, your churches, your hills and your life all filled me with a wonder scarcely to be trusted. Up and down your streets I wandered, joyous disbelief coursing through me as I understood what you were doing to me, how you were reaching out to me.

But it was in your old town, my love, in your own heart of history that you truly overpowered my senses, that you broke down my defences. How could I possibly resist you? As you charmed me with your delightful cobbled streets and wooden Ottoman houses, your sultry steam baths and quirky bronze statues, I could feel myself falling under your knowing spell. I tried to resist, for the love that we share does not come easily. But I gave myself to you, there, on the cobbled lanes near your oldest church and the theatre bell tower. Even as the clock struck seven times in the evening sun, and as your folk figurines danced to the gentle lullaby, I knew that I was all yours. And that you were mine, always.

I have to leave you now, my love, but do not be upset; you knew it would be so. Know you are unforgettable to me. You gave me what I sought so ardently but did not expect to find, here or anywhere. For this I thank you, and love you, my Tbilisi.

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[Author’s note, 9 years on: I remember writing this post in a wine bar in Sighnaghi, on my last night in Georgia; I had had a spectacular time in the country, and a love letter to its capital felt like a fitting way to bid it farewell…]

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