Discard any preconception of what one thinks ‘Georgia’ is like! The Republic of Georgia (formerly Soviet Georgia) has awakened from its long winter of Soviet rule and is now a vibrant and friendly country!
Friends ask me ‘what was Georgia like’ and I immediately reply ‘a cross between Switzerland and Budapest’! From its magnificent mountain scenery to its bucolic countryside, Georgia is a melange of sophistication and simplicity. Drives take one through pristine countryside, dotted with small communities and Georgian churches. In spite of invasions by Persians, Mongolians, Russians, Ottomans through the centuries, citizens seemed to remain faithful to their religion, even though invaders tried to ‘whitewash’ away their devotion. Not to be missed while touring is Georgia’s unique cuisine with its influences from Eastern, Mediterranean and Caucasian travellers on the ancient silk route. Each province has its own distinct culinary tradition from Kakheti to Megrelian to Imeretian, using an intriguing blend of spices and herbs that ignite the palate!
Stunning Mestia, snuggled into the Caucasus mountains reminded me of Switzerland, with peaks and glaciers that sparkled in the sun, constantly peeking out from the clouds. The Kakheti region is truly the ‘Sonoma Valley’ of Georgia, a vibrant wine industry going back more than 3000 years. Visiting the wineries one is introduced to a ‘natural’ fermentation via large qvevries which are actually large terra cotta jars buried in the earth. Going from majestic mountains to the Black Sea was via a drive to the seaside city of Batumi, a mix of Miami Beach and historic old town architecture, reminiscent of Europe. We enjoyed a walk along the seafront, ending with an elevator ride up its famed “Alphabet Tower’ where one had stunning views of the old city and waterfront! Last but not least, the capital city of Tbilisi, a potpourri of old, new and garish architecture that is arresting to the eye! From its magnificent Trinity Church perched on a hill overlooking the city, to its ancient Narikala Fortress one sees a blend of old and new along the Mktvari River. Indulging in Tbilisi’s eclectic mix of restaurants was a highlight, enjoying the conviviality of the locals as they invited us to ‘join’ their party!
My fondest memory of Georgia however, is the friendliness and hospitality extended by the locals, a warmth that said ‘welcome and please enjoy my country’…
Thinking about a holiday to Georgia? Contact our destinations experts to discuss the options and you could be sending your own postcards from Georgia very soon!
This is a guest post from Corinthian Travel’s North America Ambassador, Nicole Beattie.