Until 1995 Georgia was known as the Republic of Georgia, located in Eurasia. I know it’s hard for everyone to define if Georgia is part of Asia or Europe, but the current vibe is more European than Asian.
My image of Georgia was with old ladies walking down the streets, dressed in the traditional Russian Kerchiefs around all the grey and communist buildings. Shops without European brands and only access to Russian TV stations. The reality was totally different, Georgia is more a European country than a lot of countries from the continent. Modern architecture, great and beautiful restaurants with amazing food, all kinds of shopping malls with different structures. It was amazing and I loved it. The parties in Tbilisi and the beautiful Military road really surprised us.
A little of history: The archeological expedition in Dmanisi found the oldest human skulls in the Caucasus, suggesting that a man from Africa traveled to Europe through Georgia. The 1.8 million-year-old skulls are the remains of a human couple of Georgians called Zezva and Mzia. It is without a doubt that Georgia is a homeland of the first European. (Source: Culture Trip).
Georgia is in Europe, not the United States!!
There is a strong Russian influence that you can see and feel in the country. For example, besides Tbilisi where you will find English speaking folks, the rest of the country can still use Russian as one of the main languages even if the official one is Georgian.
Because of a personal reason I can speak Russian, it was helpful when interacting with locals: instructions, conversation and eating at local restaurants. If you are used to English, I advise you to have an offline dictionary downloaded on your device as, beside Tbilisi, locals don’t speak English at all.
History of the Georgian language. It’s known as one of the oldest in the world with a unique alphabet and totally different from any other language on this planet. According to specialists, the inspiration for the Georgian language is not well known but the script has three alphabets (Asomtavruli, Nuskhakhutsuri, and Mkhedruli ). Over time there were some updates to their language and today they use only 33 letters.
Abkhazia and South Ossetia
The background of these two territories is so controversial, traveling through these regions is not advised by the Georgian government so I encourage if you really want to travel in this area, investigate it first with the authorities. You can start with this article from Wikipedia. I know a lot of people that have traveled specially to Abkhazia because in that region you can find the best hikes and very old and famous churches. Because of the geopolitical issues, maybe it’s a good idea to have a local guide if you really want to go to this area.
Wine, wine and again wine
My biggest surprise was to find that Georgia is the birthplace of wine, their tradition is for over 8.000 years, according to experts. Everywhere you go, there is a wine tasting that you can try, each with a unique flavor (from Cabernet Sauvignon to Riesling and Sauvignon Blank).
Georgian winemaking officially is named: The Qvevri (clay vessel used for fermentation of wine) and the method is listed as part of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.
- Accommodation: Hotel Port Altus (40 EUR/night)
The “Pearl of the Black Sea”, as Georgians like to call it — is located in the republic of Adjara. There are several nice projects that started in 1990 and are still ongoing today on infrastructure, architecture, and education. Batumi is for sure a hub of architectural innovation with so many modern buildings and five-star hotels that are a lot cheaper than in other parts of the world.
The beaches are not so sandy, generally, there are a lot of rocks so the best option to enjoy the seaside is to rent sunbeds and start to take some ten. The water is pretty clean and the color is more blue-ish than in Romania at the Black Sea. My recommendation is to go in July – August when the water is warmer and the temperature is at 30 C on average. Don’t be afraid to explore the nightlife of the city, either if you want to drink a good glass of wine on the jazz rhythms or just want to dance on pop music. The city offers everything.
In the video below you can see the major five-star hotels on the seaside. You can rent an electric bike and visit all the cool places on the shore, just don’t be shy 🙂 There are several coffee shops on the sea-side where you can stop and also some street food. Really cheap and really good.
- Accommodation: Flamingo Group Hotel (40 EUR/night)
- Safety: The main city of Georgia is really safe, there are a lot of programs for students that can come to Tbilisi to study. A lot of police on the streets are taking care that everything is safe.
After visiting Tbilisi, I just fall in love with that place. Totally. I also have to say, one of my favorites coffee shops are here and one of the best rooftops ever. The Georgian main city hides a lot of surprises: really nice combination of old, of communist architecture that is combined really nice with new and fashion buildings. The city is very safe so don’t be afraid to get lost or just rent a bike or electric scooter.
At sunset, everything is changing. The whole city transforms with a welcoming atmosphere for locals and tourists. Almost everywhere is a live music concert, jazz or just 80′. I remember that on our last night in the city I was really tired and agreed that we will go back to the hotel after sunset. Guess what: we start to drink one glass of wonderfull rose and then another one and then, a lady came singing ’80s and ’90s… so I got lost in time. It was wonderful 🙂
Top attractions in the city:
- Prospero’s Books – if you are a book lover, it’s a must. It’s a beautiful coffee shop with a lot of books to offer. You can find books in English, German or any other language and you can read while enjoying a nice cake in the garden they offer. The prices are wonderful if you want to buy books.
- Walk threw old city – local art, wine tasting, family guesthouses, and everything. It’s amazing
- Take a sulfur bath – the most famous and with a very old tradition baths are located in Abanotubani district in the middle of the old town
- Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi – the 3rd largest Orthodox cathedral in the world (after the Saint Isaac´s Cathedral in Saint Petersburg and Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow)
- Try the local cuisine – the most famous type of food is Khachapuri, which is filled with tasty cheese. There are a lot of types, one kind comes with an egg on top of the cheese. Just don’t be afraid to try them all, especially good for breakfast.
- The cable car to the mother of Georgia – at the sunset is the best time to go, definitely. When we went there was a lady singing Celin Dion’s songs on the top, it creates such a nice atmosphere that I can’t just forget about it.
Georgian Military Road
The Georgian Military Highway is the main route from the Caucasus to Russia and also the fastest and most used route from Tbilisi to Russia. It’s a very challenging drive throw the mountains, locals drive so fast and they don’t pay much of attention so be carrefour and drive slowly. Big attention to animals on the road, there are a lot of sheep and they like to stay on the road a lot 🙂
From the moment you will start your journey, there will be more photographic stops like for example a lot castles and restaurants where you can try another kind of wines and food. We liked it a lot.
The picture about is the fortress at Ananuri (70km from Tbilisi). The view from the fortress is amazing and you shouldn’t miss the spot.
As the locals called it the ‘Fortress of God’, this is an ancient and very rock-hewn town that had significant importance in Georgian history for a period of approximately 3,000 years. According to Unesco, Uplistsikhe Cave Town-Fortress is situated on a rocky massif in 15 km to town Gori. It’s amazing. Be aware that because the fortress is on a big mountain, there is a lot of wind.
Kutaisi is the first main city Georgia (capital of the Kingdom of Colchis) and part of Europe’s 16 oldest cities in the world.
Kutaisi had an awesome reputation as it was once the cultural and intellectual center of Georgia. You can speak to any locals and ask for the amazing stories, about the history of the place and what Kutaisi meant for the country and region.
There are a lot of low costs that arrive in Kutaisi (and we also booked the tickets with Rian Air), this is the first stop for many tourists. The airport is very small and tiny and because of that, we had a hard time to rent a car so my advice is that you should try to fly directly to Tbilisi where is no problem to find an available rental car or book the car a lot in advanced. In the city, there is no rental car company.
From Kutaisi, the closest is Prometheus Cave, it’s 30 minutes by car away from the city. You can take an organized tour (starts every 30 minutes, with a guide included). The entrance fee is currently 20 GEL (6 EUR). The Cave is nice and we loved it.
As the whole experience of visiting Georgia was amazing, I would like to go back to Tbilisi 10 years from now as I am confident that the city will continue to grow to its full potential. It was a nice vacation with mountains, an amazing seaside, and full of history of historical places.