You read it correct, you won’t believe that my carelessness actually took me to Georgia. It is one of the most interesting accidents in my life and I will tell you all about it in this post. Before sharing my story I wanted to know if you have ever heard about this wonderful European Country of Georgia. In case your answer is a big fat ‘No’, then don’t worry as I was too clueless about it a few years back and had no idea where on the map it sits, but today I am fascinated by this beautiful country. This tiny Country is located among Caucasus Mountain region and boasts innumerous picturesque locations, friendly Georgian People (Lovely Locals), charming cities, delicious food (my weakness) and typical European capital. In this post, I will share with you some amazing facts about Georgia, everything you need to know about Georgia and why you should travel to Georgia.
#Tip 1 Currency: Georgian Lari (GEL) which is 3 GEL= 1€ and 2.5 GEL =1$
“Many times what we perceive as an error or failure is actually a gift. And eventually we find that lessons learned from that discouraging experience prove to be of great worth.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich
What makes Georgia Stand out
Georgia is located literally right in between Asia and Europe and has layers of appealing history, fascinating culture and a very strong character which is different from rest of the world. Apart from its natural beauty, the country has a quirky essence because it was under the domain of Arabs, Romans, Russians, Mongols and Iranians which ended up creating a unique cultural atmosphere in Georgia.
#Tip 2 Safety: Georgia is very safe to travel , terrorism is the last thing you will hear here and it is in fact safest in the western Europe
Flash back of why I travelled to Georgia (14th September 2017)
We were going to travel to Turkey from Dubai and then to Greece as per plan, everything was booked with detailed itinerary for each day. We were extremely ecstatic and elated and reached at the airport on the D-day. We took airport selfies and photos as if we were some celebs. On the Turkish airline counter, we were dragged down to reality by the staff. “Madam, your visa is valid from 20th Sept so unfortunately you can’t board the plane now but you can book another flight to Turkey anytime in next week.”Holy$#@! , I looked at the visa and yes, the dates mentioned there were different from what we filled in the form which we never noticed after receiving the visa. We booked the Turkish e-visa online and the dates were correct, we checked it multiple times before purchasing. How did that blunder happen, I couldn’t fathom what went wrong? I felt cheated and was furious and wanted to give an earful to the Turkish immigration people.
Long story short, we decided that we won’t let this situation ruin our holidays and we found out about Georgia where visa was not required for UAE residents. We booked the next flight to Tbilisi (capital of Georgia) from Dubai Airport that very moment and felt so much better once the flight took off. Now in the hindsight I feel grateful to that mistake or may be we were meant to travel to this beautiful country.
#Tip 3 Visa: Georgia is emerging as a popular tourist destination, also most of the western countries have visa free entry and others can get e-visa to visit Georgia.
How to Reach Tbilisi from the Airport
#Tip4: Catch a taxi or Bus N37 which runs in every 30 mins (24/7) and extremely cheap as 0.5 GEL (Georgian Lari).
We landed around 4 am and it was pretty dark and we could barely see anything outside the taxi window. After reaching to our beautiful Airbnb apartment, my partner went off to sleep directly, while I started searching for things to do in Tbilisi, how to spend a week in Georgia and planning the best itinerary for Georgia. It was around 6 or 6.30 in the morning when I felt little sunlight coming in my room from the window and I removed the curtain to look outside. OMG, I couldn’t believe my eyes and woke up my husband with so much of joy & excitement (which he told me about later) and made him crawl to the window from his intense sound sleep.
#Tip5 : There are buses and trains available from different countries to travel to Georgia which is the cheapest option and many direct flights to Tbilisi.
What’s best about Georgia
- Capital city of Tbilisi – Vibrant, welcoming and most hospitable
- Caucasus Mountain – fairy meadows, gigantic glaciers and snow capped peaks
- Churches & monasteries – their own unique and yet daring style of architecture
- Georgian People- Very friendly, innocent, benevolent, helpful, soft spoken and HAPPY (always smiling)
- Georgian Food- It is a very heavy meal with a lot of Cheese and super delicious.
Here is Why I emphasized on Georgian People -Been living in UAE and been travelling to different countries have given me a basic idea about most of the nationalities. But I have never seen so innocent and genuine people anywhere in the world who are always so calm and happy to help. In Georgia, locals will never try to fool you for making more money or manipulate/mislead you with anything just because you are tourists. It is a country with so much of love, care and respect for each other that we all should learn some basic ethics from them. For example, whenever we asked locals about any directions or restaurant for Halal meat, they used google translator to explain us (as they dont speak or understand English) and some literally went extra miles to make sure that we don’t get lost.
What to do & See in Tbilisi in 2-3 days
Tbilisi has eccentric vibe with its facades of traditional wooden Georgian houses next to Soviet-era architecture and bold contemporary outline. Their Italian-style courtyards, old Medieval churches and modernist relics attract most of the traveler’s and backpacker’s attention. Tbilisi means “warm place” in Georgian and was named due to its underneath thermal spring. Therefore, the city has a long tradition of bathhouses for scrub and gossip among locals while taking advantage of the sulfur baths.
#Tip 6 Electricity plugs : Georgia has standard European plugs and if you are travelling from a different country then you can buy this travel adaptor.
The old city of Tbilisi is easily walkable, and you can get a good taste of this charming city in roughly 2-3 days. Though we spent around 6 days on and off in Tbilisi while roaming around in Caucasus. We stayed in three different areas to cover and explore the best of Tbilisi in every way possible.
#Tip7 Sim Card: Buy the sim at the airport or local shop to avoid high roaming charges and Beeline or Magti are comparatively better than Geocell for 4G network. Price is around 8-9$ for 30 GB data.
- Live music café at Erekle Street
- Cable car to Narikala Fortress
- Holy Trinity Church
- Learn to bake Georgian bread
- Free walking tour
- Visit Vera – neighborhood of Tbilisi
- Botanical Garden
- Shop at Dry bridge Flea Market
- Gallery 27 – photogenic spot
- Sulfur Bath
- Peace Bridge
- Old City Wall Bar
- Mother Georgia Statue
- Ice cream (infused with wine)
- Fabrika (resto-bars with co-working space and much more)
What to eat & Drink in Georgia
I loved the food in Georgia as their breads are just the best and food is stuffed with cheese and served with loads of cheese (my fav part). Some of the food which I could remember are Khachapuri, Khinkalik (looks like dumplings but never say that, Georgians get offended), Churchkhela, Badridzhani. The famous local homemade drink is Chacha here which is a typical Georgian brandy.
#Tip8 : Restaurant meal costs around $5 and a pint costs $1 so basically, it’s very affordable especially for the backpackers.
Wander around Georgia
#Tip 9: There are many minivan & Bus services available all the time from major tourists’ spots to different locations listed below and its extremely cheap to roam around in Georgia.
This has been the first and only trip of my life where we had no prior bookings or fixed itinerary with us while we were in Georgia yet we were able to manage everything on the spot. As we decided to go with the flow, we did face some difficulties and doubts about few decisions such as whether we should rent a car and drive around the country or take day trips to different locations from Tbilisi or stay only in Tbilisi. I am very grateful to God that we could explore most of the part of the country in such a short time frame and met some lovely people (other tourists across the globe and some locals) on the way which was so much fun.
KAZBEGI: The region is only 3 hours by minivan in the north of Tbilisi, and has scenic view with snowy peaks, mountain trails, and hilltop monasteries. Here we stayed one night and spent around one & half days hiking the trails in the caucasus mountain range. The look and feel of this area was so refreshing and breathtaking. We wanted to stay for more days but there is always a next time, hence Georgia is still in our bucket list of countries we are going to visit again.
#Tip 10: Thes best way to explore Georgia is by staying in Tbilisi and book day trips from the capital city. You can’t do much in the hilly areas (rest of the towns) after sunset whereas Tbilisi has a rocking nightlife and lively musical streets and artists to enjoy the evening.
KUTAISI : Kutaisi is situated in the west of Georgia, on the bank of Rioni River and the 3rd largest cities population wise but second most traditional city after Tbilisi. It is one of the oldest cities like MTSKHETA but much more fascinating due to Gelati Monastery and Bagrati Cathedral which are both UNESCO WORLD Heritage sites. Gelati is a masterpiece of Georgian golden era and a day trip from Tbilisi can cover it all along with some other interesting stops like Rioni River, Motsameta Monastery and Prometheus cave.
KAKHETI : This eastern region is best known for winery, museums, lake, monasteries, historic house and palace. Main attractions – Sighnaghi,Telavi, Kvareli & Tsinandali along with Bodbe Monastery of St. Nino can be covered by a day trip from Tbilisi. This area is popular among wine lovers and also known as ‘City of Love’.
VARDZIA : This ancient cave city is only 4 hours away and offers so much to see and do that you can spend 2-3 days here without getting bored.
# Tip 11: I have linked some best Day Trips from Tbilisi to make most of your Georgia trip and you can just click on the location (like Kazbegi or Mtskheta) to find the prices and itinerary.
Tip 12 # It may sound cliche but it’s very very important to check your visa details even if it is approved by the embassy especially your name, passport number, nationality and visa validity dates.
If you have ever made such a mistake which turned into some amazing experience, you can tell me in the comment box. Catch you in the next post!