Top 5 Things to Try in Georgia
January 1, 1970
Georgia has so much to offer any traveller when visiting, how can you possibly narrow it down? Well, here is a top 5 list of things you must try when in Georgia
If you leave Georgia without a Khachapuri (cheese pizza) or Khinkali belly, you didn’t really experience the full greatness of Georgian food. Of course when you are on the go travelling the country and the most popular tend to be these two dishes, you could think this is all the Georgia has to offer in regards to food. However, Georgian cuisine isn’t just bread.
There is a wide variety of foods to choose from. My favourites are that you must try:
Mtsvadi (Pork meat basted with pomegranate juice served with onions)
Badrijani (Grilled eggplant with walnut paste with pomegranate seeds)
Khinkali (pork/beef meat with spices in a soup inside a pasta sack)
Kubdari (Svaneti khachapuri with beef chunks and onion and Svan spices inside bread)
Georgian bread and cheese (go to any bakery and market, if you get fresh bread its edible by itself it’s so good)
Georgia is passionate about its alcohol, particularly its wine. When you arrive during holiday seasons you get given a half litre bottle of Saperavi wine. Welcome to Georgia!
The typical signal when being offered a drink or talking about drinking alcohol is a flick to your neck. This is inviting for a toast to new friends, old friends, lost friends, the country, the future, the past, the present, family, and so forth. Being involved in Georgian toasting is very poetic (if someone can translate for you) with songs sung, poems recited and always the expectation that you too will give a toast. So be prepared to be a poet! If you have no translator I find “Sakartvelo. Gamarjose” works great. Which means Georgia, Cheers. My favourites (and well what Georgia is famous for):
Wine – real Georgian wine comes in reused plastic bottles, so don’t be dismayed by its presentation. It ranges from white, gold, red and can sometimes be a hit or a miss. But with the oldest 5,000 year winemaking traditions in the world, using only natural products. Its a must to try (plus I have never had a headache after drinking lots, maybe because its all natural?)
Chacha – it’s like Georgia’s vodka, it can be deadly for alcohol content, ranging from 40-80% alcohol proof. Steps to drinking chacha: 1. Don’t smell it 2. Have something to chase it with (food or soft drink) 3. Always toast it 4. Don’t mix it, its a shot. When people say its “good” chacha, I’m not sure what they mean. It’s basically moonshine and meant for getting you drunk quickly. In no way can it ever smell or taste good.
Beer – The mass produced brands in the supermarket are ok to try but aren’t the best beers for taste in Georgia. For these you need to head to restaurants that brew their own. I had an incredible stout in a restaurant in Tbilisi.
Hiking & Camping
Georgia has some incredible landscapes, from rocky beaches overlooking the Black Sea to 5,000m steep, all-year-round snowy peaks. To simply visit cities in Georgia is to miss out on the best part of Georgia. It is extremely easy to get useful information from each tourist information centre of each province. With hiking trail maps with everything you need. Equipment is easy and cheap to rent and also taking guides can really broaden your experience.
You will also meet many Georgians enjoying their country who will help you have the best possible trip possible. Top places/regions to camp/hike:
Svaneti (entire province) – highlights include Mestia and Ushguli
Kazbegi – visiting Gergeti Church and if you are fit enough to the summit the top of Mount Kazbegi
Borjomi National Park – Many hikes with shelters (if you have no camping equipment)
Black Sea (camping) – many secluded places along the Black Sea to camp and watch the sunset
Samegrelo Park – Some beautiful lakes to visit, but its a tough trek
If you are fortunate enough to be in Georgia during winter, there is nothing better to do than skiing. Georgia has many adventure sports all year round, from water rafting, paragliding to rock climbing and caving, but with endless mountains topped with fresh powder, its a skier’s dream. Top picks:
- Svaneti – Backcountry ski touring. Heli skiing is also popular
- Gudauri – Most developed ski resort with good backcountry
- Mestia/Tetnuldi – New ski resort, but good opportunities
- Bakuriani – Lower altitude and more family orientated
- Goderdzi – New ski resort difficult to get to in winter
You can hitchhike anywhere in the world…so what makes Georgia so special? Is it the the ease of getting picked up whether you are a single woman or a couple with 2 large rucksacks? Is it the fact the country is so small, you can get from one side to the other in about 6 hours? Why should you hitchhike in Georgia and is it safe? Here is a break down of the pros and cons regarding hitchhiking in Georgia
Hospitality – you will be invited for food, alcohol, a place to sleep, the list goes on…
Driving with Georgians is an experience you should try
It’s often faster than taking minibus
Save money. Its cheap to get around in Georgia but its more interesting hitching
Georgian Men – Many times travelling alone as a woman I get advances. Whether its just words or hand gestures. Sometimes it has been touched and grabbed on leg, arm, breast. It happens, quite a lot. You just have to be forceful you aren’t interested or get out and get into another car. It’s usually single male drivers over the age of about 40 (winter this seems to be worse).
In summer it can be too hot and in winter, sometimes few drivers