My imagination is running during the entire flight on what to expect. When I arrived at the airport, right away I felt the kindness of the Georgian people. That is what we always wanted every time we reached our destination.
It was a last minute decision to travel and choose Georgia because of my work schedule, and not to mention my budget haha! Georgia did not disappoint me. Georgia is simply gorgeous!
It’s always very hard to summarize a trip when there’s so much to say and a lot of adventures, experiences and impressive places you’ve visited and not to mention the people you met along the way.
Georgia is a country that emerged from the collapsing Soviet Union as an independent state in 1991. Most commonly asked question is whether Georgia belongs to Europe or Asia. Georgia, is a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia, a crossroad where Europe meets Asia. “The balcony of Europe,” the way others described this gorgeous country. I can’t agree more, let’s leave it that way.
It’s my first time to booked my hotel and tours from a travel agency promoted on facebook. I like to show everyone that there are legitimate travel agencies online that gives way cheaper prices compared to those popular travel agencies. The option is truly endless, however be careful in choosing the right one. Read reviews of travelers regarding their experiences. Let’s support small scale travel agencies who gives hands on personal care to their guests.
Please do try the Georgian way of hospitality by booking your tours with these two travel agencies I used with my trip in Georgia.
FB: Tbilisi Travel Website: https://tbilisitravel.org/
FB: Real Georgia – Tours in Georgia Website: realgeorgiatours.com
Tbilisi, the capital city is fairly small and accessible. A mixture of old and modern architecture that blends well. The feeling of wandering into those cobblestones alleys that will transport you many years ago admiring those old unique balconied houses with trailing grape vines.
Climb up to the Narikala Fortress and admire the remaining of its wall being preserved. The view up there is spectacular. Just near the fortress is an impressive 20 meters statue of the Mother of Georgia overlooking the city.
Or wander in Europe Square and appreciate the modern contemporary architectural design. There you’ll find up close “The Bridge of Peace” along the Nera river.
Visit Mtatsminda Park situated at the highest point of Tbilisi 770 meters in height. Ride the Tbilisi Funicular going up to the park which is famous on its landscape. Enjoy the view along the way, offering a splendid view of the city.
Don’t forget to visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral Church which is the religious center of Georgia. Its construction took 7 years and was finished in 2003. The Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi commonly known as Sameba is the main cathedral of the Georgian Orthodox Church.
The real gem of Georgia is somehow to be found on its breathtaking countryside. A stunning landscape with an array of impressive picturesque nature. As a predominantly Christian Orthodox population, you’ll find churches everywhere. However, they bluster centuries old monasteries and churches built on gorgeous mountain peaks with an amazing panoramic view from above. With that said, be ready to wear those comfy shoes to hike up. Believed me, it’s worth every step. Truly awesome!
Gergeti Trinity Church was built in the 14th century. Its isolated location on top of a steep mountain surrounded by the vastness of nature has made it a symbol for Georgia. Also known as Tsminda Sameba Church is elevated at 2,200 meters above Kazbegi mountain.
Ananuri Fortress was built on the right bank of Aragvi River in 16th-17th century. Within the complex, amongst other buildings, are two churches. The older Church of the Virgin and the larger Church of the Assumption (Ghvtismshobeli), built in 1689. Along the way you’ll also have the chance to stop and see the Zhinvali Reservoir and the two colored Aragvi river.
Zhinvali Water Reservoir, is an artificial water reservoir located on the river Aragvi in Georgia.
Aragvi River where 2 colors of water don’t mix.
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (Cathedral of the Living Pillars) is the second largest church building in Georgia and is listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site.Located in Mtskheta, former capital of Georgia. A lot of history and stories surround this sacred place including the claim where Christ’s robe is said to be buried in a 17th century Ciborium and a holy relic of Apostle Andrew.
Another listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO is the JVARI Monastery. A 6th century Gregorian Orthodox monastery at the top of a mountain overlooking Mtskheta and Aragvi river. According to research, on this location in the early 4th century Saint Nino, a female evangelist credited with converting King Mirian III of Iberia to Christianity, erected a large wooden cross on the site of a pagan temple. The cross was reportedly able to work miracles and therefore drew pilgrims from all over the Caucasus.
Sighnaghi is a small gorgeous town in Georgia’s region of Kakheti province. There’s a feeling like wandering in an old Italian countryside in this stunning town. Here you’ll find lovely old houses, Bobde Monastery and Sighnaghi City Wall.
Bobde Monastery is a 9th century monastery houses grave and relics of St. Nino who is said to have converted Georgia to Christianity is just 2 km away outside the town.
An ancient Cave Village in Uplitsike is an attraction known to be the oldest ancient habitat in Georgia. Caves as a dwelling place does exist around the world, and Georgia have a share of this remarkable and well preserved rock/cave complex. It’s fascinating to imagine how people lived in such condition hundreds or thousands of years ago. Unbelievable!
My guide for almost 70% of my stay in Georgia, who is one of the best I ever met Mr. Shalva from Tbilisi Travel agency bring us to a local bakery to show how Georgian bread called Shotis Puri was made traditionally. Georgian bread is prepared manually and baked in traditional bread baking oven called tones that are made out of clay where heat is introduced at the bottom. It was good paired with a homemade cheese.
I always look for a tour that is away from the tourist destinations when I travel. A home cooked dinner with a local family is the best option and the most authentic way to experience the life of a local Georgian. Mr. Giorgi my guide from Real Georgia – Tours in Georgia travel agency is one of the best while Mr. Mamuka is so animated but full of wisdom. I will always remember one of his quotes during the many toasts, “No one truly dies as long as someone remember the person forever.”
Mr. Mamuka and his entire family truly shows what Georgian hospitality is all about. Their house is lovely, decent and has a lot of history.
The Supra, a traditional Georgian feast they prepare for dinner is truly mouth watering. Mr. Mamuka act as the “Tamada” the entire night. Tamada also known as the toastmaster is the main host and in-charge of the entire gathering. A unique toasts every now and then is performed during the dinner where each toast is interpreted by the people around the table before drinking to it, and one must never drink wine without toasting.
This experience is one of the best a traveler should include in their itinerary once you visit Georgia. I once wrote in one of my blogs, “that a country’s food being served in a table of a warm hospitable house, tells the story of its people and provides opportunity for the host and the guest to interact, learn and exchange cultural backgrounds. Food of every destination a traveler visits represents a lot of history and soul of the country and its people.” And Georgian food and hospitality is one of the best experience I ever had.
Among my favorite Georgian food is the Khachapuri. The cheesy, a bit salty pizza-like snack bread topped with a sunny side up egg is one of a kind and a must try. There are actually different kinds of khachapuri.
Another popular and a must try is the Khinkali. Almost similar with a Chinese dumpling. You have to bite a small hole in the side to slurp out the soup inside before proceeding to eat the entire dumpling. It is made of flour dumpling wrappers and usually contains beef, pork or chicken.
And my favorite is the appetizer Badrijai Nigvzit (Eggplant Walnut Rolls). Consist of cooked fried eggplant sliced thinly with paste of walnuts, vinegar and spices spread on the eggplant.
Another interesting Georgian delight is the Churchkhela. A reddish or brownish sausage-shaped candy. Consist of walnuts, toasted nuts or hazelnuts that are strung on a string and deep into a mixture of flour, sugar and grape juice.
After almost a week of traveling in Georgia and not to mention that most of it is walking and hiking, my body is already telling me to stop and relax haha!
Before heading to one of the public bathhouse, at the end of the Old Tbilisi Town you’ll find a small water falls within the city. Amazing!
To soaked and be pampered in one of the historic and authentic bath house with a pool of hot natural Sulphur rich water, and a personal sauna in my very own private room complete with a massage and foam bath in the Old Tbilisi town of Abanotubani is the best way to end my weeklong vacation in Georgia.
A bit hesitant at the start not knowing what to expect and yet I couldn’t resist giving it a go, I decided to have a private room in one of the many public bathhouse in this district. I choose “The Royal Bath,” who gave me a superb experience. It is clean and a nice bathhouse with an excellent service. I can’t think of any way to relax and end my trip in Georgia other than this Sulphur bathhouse experience.
The Georgians believed that “Every guest is a gift from God.” No wonder how hospitable and welcoming they are. My stay in Georgia is unexpectedly very pleasant.
What is so fascinating about Georgia besides its breathtaking countryside, mountains, lakes, centuries old churches, monasteries and food are its people. I can only speak based from my experience how kind and hospitable they are. Georgians I met along the way from hotel staff, shops, restaurants, taxi and different establishments and most specially ordinary local people from the streets will go out of their way to help you. Truly Georgians are beautiful people inside and out.
Georgia is one of those countries that I will definitely visit again and not to mention one of my favorite place. Georgia is indeed gorgeous!