I arrived in Tbilisi, the capital, totally ill-prepared, with little knowledge or understanding of the country or its people. I bought a guidebook (“Bradt Georgia”) and maps at Prospero’s Books and started to make a plan. I asked a Georgian native where he would go. “If you only have a few days, use Tbilisi as a base and make day trips to various places. If you have a week or longer, definitely go to Svaneti” was his answer.
In the end, we visited Tbilisi (the capital), Mtskheta (the heart of Georgia’s spiritual identity), Davit-Gareja (cave monasteries from the 6th century on the Azerbaijani border), Mestia and Ushguli (Svaneti), Kutaisi (the capital from 978 to 1122), Borjomi (spa town), Akhaltsikhe (Rabati Castle) and Vardzia (medieval cave city).
My two-week stay was a true eye-opening experience and full of delightful surprises.
Georgia is a transcontinental country at the intersection of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, surrounded by the Black Sea, Russia, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan. It boasts highly sophisticated ancient culture, breathtaking landscape and incredibly kind and hospitable people.
The Georgian language belongs to the Kartvelian family, which is unrelated to any other language families, and has its own unique alphabet.
Georgia adopted Christianity as its state religion in 327, the second country to do so after Armenia.
Georgia is one of the oldest wine regions in the world, cultivating grapes for winemaking since 6000 BC. The ancient traditional Georgian winemaking method using the kvevri clay jars is a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Georgia is a pro-Western, representative democracy and is eager to join EU and NATO. It is very liberal, being one of the first countries in the world to legalize cannabis. At the same time, the society is quite civil and courteous. A young man without fail would offer a seat to older women in public transport.
20% of the country is currently occupied by Russia.
Always good to follow your travels. Thank you for sharing.