What’s the first thing that pops out your mind when you hear the word GEORGIA? mountains? historical places? terrorism? war? or maybe no idea at all?
For me to be honest, I don’t have any idea with this place – NO. IDEA. AT. ALL. Not until I had the chance to visit it last Eid break.
Not a good place to spend a holiday in, one might think. To others that are familiar with the country, they still think that it is not safe to travel there. I remember when I spoke to my boss to sign my leave form and he saw that I am travelling to Georgia. And he was like “GEORGIA!?! are you sure dear?” Honestly I don’t understand why he has that reaction. And he told me that it is unsafe there.. blah. blah. blah. Anyhow I wasn’t really bothered by it. I just wanted to visit the place and I did not regret the experience. NO circumstance did I ever feel unsafe during our stay there. The whole experience was awesome. Tiring yes but definitely worth it. Specially because I got the chance to travel with my husband and my friends plus our very cool tour guide that made the entire trip even more fun.
A lot of people don’t know the country Georgia. Most of them are more familiar with Georgia in the US state. Well they are absolutely two different places. Georgia is a country in the Caucasus region -a region at the border of Europe and Asia with Tbilisi as its capital. Although it is categorized as a 3rd world country, Georgia has a lot to offer in terms of its natural beauty, history and their rich cultural heritage – which are proudly nurtured and preserved.
Here are my top 5 reasons why you should add Georgia in your travel bucket list.
1. STAGGERING SCENERY
The beauty of nature in Georgia never failed to amaze our eyes as we drive through the road of Tbilisi to Kazbegi to Kutaisi to Borjomi up to Uplistsikhe.
It made me feel that we are driving at one of the roads in my country (Philippines) and sometimes I also imagine that this can be like New Zealand (though I haven’t been to this place yet).
There is so much beauty in this country that will make you realize that we are truly blessed to deserve this wonderful gift from God.
2. MEDIEVAL ARCHITECTURE and RICH CULTURAL HERITAGE
Georgia is known for its rich cultural heritage and medieval architectures such as fortress, cathedral and monastery that were built thousand of years ago. Each structure has its own story which will give you an insight to their ancient history.
This I guess, was one of the highlights of our trip. The church is situated near the village of Gergeti at an elevation 2170 meters. You can either take a car to reach the top (that will cost you 35 USD ) or take 1.5 – 2 hours climb/trek (which is free of course!). And we choose the latter. I found the climb to Gergeti Trinity Church challenging but very rewarding. The view at the top was spectacular (or you can say breath taking, literally.)
My second favorite part – Cave town! Uplistsikhe is an ancient cave city situated on the river Mtkvari. I am truly amazed on how the ancient people built this structure knowing that during their time, there are no advance technology compare to what we have today. The rock formations, the sculptures, the holes and the chambers were just – wow! I can’t even find the best word to describe it. I wasn’t even bothered by the heat of the sun when we climb as I am just mesmerized with its beauty.
3. TRADITIONAL GEORGIAN CUISINES
My heart skips a beat every time I talk about the food we had in Georgia. I was really busy eating that’s why I don’t have any pictures of the food (photos below came from my friend – good thing she had time to take some pictures of the food). There are lots of Georgian cuisines to choose from but my top picks are Khinkali, Khachapuri and eggplant with walnuts. Georgian meal is not complete without khackapuri just like a Filipino meal without rice. Khinkali is like a bigger version of dumpling made of meat inside. The eggplant is just fried with walnut on top.
Although language is a barrier here – I find Georgian people friendly and very hospitable. Georgians are great story tellers as well! (our tour guide Lasha proves it).
We even bumped into some tourists from other country which are very friendly as well.
There are various activities that you can do during your visit in Georgia. You can start with exploring around the city of Tbilisi. First thing that you should do is to visit its oldest corners. You can start from Metekhi Bridge to Abanotubani, Narikala Fortress, Sioni Cathedral, Synagogue, and Anchiskhati church. These sites are very close to one another, within a few minutes walk, so you can do lots of exploring without a lot of travel time. To reach Narikala Fortress, you can either walk up or take the cable car.
You can also visit the caves, do trekking, horse back riding, canyoning, boat riding, water rafting and paragliding in the outside part of Tbilisi (Kazbegi, Kutaisi, Borjomi, Batumi etc.)
Unfortunately we did not try paragliding as it is too costly. It will costs you 250 US dollar during regular season and 150 US dollar during winter. If you want to experience skiing, it is advisable to go there in between November to December as there are lots of mountain ski areas to choose from.
Since we have a tour guide, there’s no hassle in regards with the transportation. We also stayed in guesthouses (normally costs 20 US dollar per person) and very affordable hotels (you can find decent hotel around 90 US dollar). The weather is perfect during our stay although Lasha told us that normally it rains between September to November. We are lucky indeed!
And by the way, travelling to Georgia is very budget friendly. You can plan your travel ahead of time and avail cheap deals for the flight tickets. Better to have your tour guide because most of the locals there don’t know how to speak English (I highly recommend our tour guide!).
There are a lot more reasons to travel and explore Georgia. We truly had a great time and I absolutely recommend you to visit it too. So plan your travel soon!