No no, not the north-american state. Georgia, the country.
And if you didn’t pay extra attention to your geography class on Soviet rule or Georgia’s independence in 1991, here’s where it is.
I chanced upon a travel blog of Georgia a couple of years back, looked up all possible flight options and instantly wanted to visit it. I’ve been told that if you really really want something, the outer forces conspire to help you achieve it. Yeah, it actually worked!
So why Georgia?
- Visa-on-arrival for Indians in the UAE. There are just a handful of ’em countries that allow us so easily, so make the most of it! Add to this, a cheap direct flight from Dubai and being in the same time zone means no jet-lag, only a tbilisian hangover on return.
- Cold country. From 38 deg to 8 deg in just 4 hours!
- Relatively untouched by tourists, especially from Asia (in fact, I was told there were a handful of indian students studying medicine at the local university!) So get ready to Gah-mahr-jobah!
- Half as cheap as western Europe. A tad cheaper than that.
- Snow-clad mountains. Vineyards. Churches. Caves. Beaches. And eggplants with walnut paste. What more do you want?!
7 days of Georgia. 2 of us. And that helped in un-planning and going without a fixed schedule. It also helped that most places were available, April being off-season. We booked accommodation for only 2 nights and off we went. They said 7 days were enough to see all of Georgia. They were wrong. By the end of the week, we had not covered even half the country.
And so, our itinerary eventually turned out like this, touching three prominent regions of Georgia:
- Mtskheta–Mtiaeti which has the gorgeous gorgeous (yes that was repeated) capital of Tbilisi, the erstwhile capital Mtskheta and the mountainous Kazbegi
- Kakheti with Sighnaghi as its signature city now positioned as the ‘Love City‘!
- Shida Kartli that has Gori, a city famous for being the birthplace of Stalin
Overall, the weather was wonderful (and my idea of wonderful is a gloomy chilly 10 deg C), the locals were friendly (though at first instance, they appear to be cold), and the food and drink just adequate to keep us happy. I liked all the little towns and villages but was besotted with Tbilisi, the capital.
A lot more georgian love coming soon!