Introducing Georgia by a local
Introducing Georgia‘’-Where are you from? -Georgia. -Oh, the states? -No, Georgia, the country! ‘’ This is my very common dialogue, with following the explanation of location. It’s a really small country between Russian, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey, bordered by the Black Sea as well. And then in flows another questions: -So, it’s Russia? -Is your language Russian? Well, some of our sites are occupied by Russians since late 18th century and time by time the loss increases. But, not to mention politics we have our own language and very particular handwriting. As my foreigner friends say Georgian sounds really harsh and handwriting is epic: Georgian population is just 3.5 million and 1 million out of it lives in the Capital of city called Tbilisi. Tbilisi has become the city of contrasts, you can see how modern and historical buildings are mixed with each other. The old part of the city still maintains the history and the style of architecture. Even though, Tbilisi is interesting with its vibes and landscapes, I think the most interesting part is countryside. It’s very exciting how diverse nature can be in such a small site:
- High mountains (Shkhara 5068m.)
- 856 lakes
- 27000 rivers
- 3 ski resorts
- 14 protected areas
- Seaside resort
- Canyons where you can have a boat trip
- Old caves
BudgetWhen it comes to planning your budget and your currency is such strong as Pounds, Euro or USD you may feel yourself as a very rich person as GEL (Lari) is quite low. I wouldn’t say that accommodation is cheap but transportation, food and drinks are affordable. Transportation fees: 0.50 Tetri one way (which is about 0.15 Cents) Cab: from 1 to 7 EUR in the city. Accommodation: The best decision would be Airbnb which is spreading day by day in Tbilisi and you can find the suitable flat for around 15-40 EUR for 2-3 persons. Drinks in the bars: approximately 1.5-5 Euro Also, there is a big chance that you may experience Georgian well-known hospitality.
Here is the short list of Top places to visit:
UshguliUshguli is the one of the highest villages in Europe 2200m. which is located in Svaneti, North-West part of Georgia. This place is like open air museum, everything you can see is the very top of the mountains, flowing down rivers and mysterious towers. It is known that each family had their own towers in order to defend themselves from the enemies.
Toba VarchkhiliI know it sounds very weird, but if you translate it means ‘’Silver lake’’ and you won’t be disappointed once you see it. It’s not easy to get there, but when you will tell the story to your friend how you hiked up there it will sound like a fairytale: ‘’I overcame nine mountains, rivers, caves,mossy arrays, alpine lakes…’’ with elevation you feel wilder nature and after hiking of 3 days and nights you are there, in a peaceful and breathtaking place. There is one legend about the lake that if you dare and try to touch the water and even more, you will swim there you will be punished and there will be a big storm at that night. The water here is extremely cold but it’s looks so pure that we still decided to swim, we camped for 1 night and started a path, coincidence was that the following two days on our way back was raining cats and dogs.
TushetiWhen I think of Tusheti the first thing I remember is strawberry fields everywhere and the adrenaline. The road is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous, you can get there only by Delica or special Jeep, it’s very narrow and sometimes you need to carefully cross small waterfalls, this part lasts for about 4 hours but finally you get your award: A view of vast field, small mythical cabins, you see shepherds somewhere far away and the air full of oxygen. You can do horse-riding tours, trekking, climbing or just simply relax in the nature where there is no electricity or internet but there is really good connection such as people at the campfire and sharing stories with each other. There is even more on your way back, you can enjoy in the sulfur baths which is quite spread in Georgia everywhere.
KazbegiIt’s not that complicated to get there and this is one of the most popular tourist attraction. Infrastructure and connection is quite developed here and you don’t need special skills to get around here. Until you are at the point of Meteo where the climate is changing, hiking zone ends and starts climbing to the glacier. In this area you can also try rafting there are organized tours for that.
Some simple advices which you might not be able to read it on internet or guide books:
- If you are planning tours in nature be aware that you might not be able to catch the mobile signal.
- You will be offered to drink Georgian traditional drink ‘’Chacha’’ everywhere, which is something you should try and it’s also fun to drink it with locals, but be careful with dozes, because of hospitality your shot will be always full and not all the body is used to it.
- Backpackers ask about hitchhiking, nobody’s sure with its security. Of course there is some risk everywhere, but I think it’s safe to hitchhike in Georgia, you will never ever be asked to pay money for the ride and it can definitely turn into a big adventure such as ending up drinking and having fun together (regarding that check the small advice above J )
- When it comes to taxi drivers or some small businesses they might decide to make money out of lying to you as a tourist who doesn’t know the local prices, double check it or just simply act like you know what they are intended.
- Most of the young people know English, whilst old generation can speak Russian.
This was a very simple introduction of the country where I am from. in the next article I will be more specific to describing places, how to get around, culture and cuisine. Cheers, Nina Gomarteli