Likes & Dislikes

Opinions

Georgia - wedding - Elter photo

So what did Georgia offer us? Heartbreaking stories of human destiny, unbelievable sights, an insight into a national history shot through with war and suffering, captivating nature, fantastic gastronomy, fine wines, friendly meals, and so much laughter… I feel as though we packed our suitcases full of all the joy we found in this country, and all the unforgettable experiences it offered. Gamarjoba (greetings) to everyone! (2019)

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Likes

Unique gastronomic experience
The atmosphere in Tbilisi, and the colorful buildings
Great service everywhere (restaurants, hotel dining, private accommodation)
The local wines, and the dedication and hospitality of the winemakers
The atmosphere in the cave town of Uplistsikhe – the view from there is also spectacular
A paradise for mountain climbers!
Heaps of fresh veg with every meal
The landscape is captivating when the weather is good

Dislikes

Tourists get ripped off. Always check your change
Prices are double in tourist areas
Litter piled on litter (especially in the countryside)
Lots of beggars, even in the churches
The street vendors at certain famous sights won’t take no for an answer (I lost my appetite for shopping)

(Jetta, 2017)

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Likes

I am not brave when it comes to new food, but Georgian cuisine is divine!
Their white and rosé wines are delicious
The local food is even better: khinkali, which could best be described as a stuffed pastry dumpling, and hachapuri (flatbread stuffed with cheese)
The local brandy, chacha, which is strong, but still has a very pleasant flavor
The Uplistsikhe cave town, which is also a great excursion with kids!
Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia, with its atmospheric little streets and market stalls
The hospitality, flexibility and attentiveness of the service (in restaurants, hotels and elsewhere)

Dislikes

The appalling levels of poverty in the country, which are very evident to the tourist as well
The tumbledown houses and ruined buildings, which are still being used as dwellings
Many stray dogs on the street with tags on their ears – I absolutely wouldn’t recommend Georgia to anyone with a fear of dogs
Many beggars, especially in tourist areas
Disgusting toilets – even in restaurants!
I don’t advise renting a car – it’s habitual in Georgia for three cars to drive alongside one another on a two-lane road.
(Helga, 2017)

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Georgia is absolutely worth visiting. Unbelievably interesting. It’s also a strange country, though, characterized by the paradoxical combination of disintegration and optimism. I would recommend Georgia to travelers like me, who don’t just want to visit the sights and museums but to discover the lives of the local people too. In other words, contact with real Georgians, and a snapshot of their everyday lives, was the thing I enjoyed the most. While in Tbilisi we enjoyed the funfair in Mtazminda Park and the panoramic view down over the city. It was also great to go up on the Ferris wheel and look around from our cabin. Before the Soviet period, Tbilisi must have been a beautiful city, and it has the potential to become one again before too long.

It was also interesting to try out some of the underground baths in Tbilisi. About twenty minutes from Tbilisi is the old capital, Mzcheta. It turned out to be perfect for a one-day visit – we saw churches and monasteries, and best of all there were no tourist crowds anywhere. Another positive was the surprising ease with which we were able to communicate with the locals, even when they didn’t speak English. They were simply so willing to help that all interactions went smoothly. Their national pride means that it’s important to them to ensure that foreigners take home a good impression of Georgia.” (Gag, 2016)




Practicals

Transport

By car

Those visitors who drive in Georgia are required to have car liability insurance for their stay. Those who are caught without insurance can be fined up to 100-200 GEL (30-60 USD). Insurance packages are available near the customs offices. and other locations (banks, Pay Boxes, and also on the insurance website).

The quality of urban and rural roads and roadside services along the country roads to the countryside leave a lot to be desired.


We’ve read a lot of bad reports about Georgia on internet forums: crazy drivers and terrible road conditions mean that renting a car and driving around independently are generally not recommended. Well, it’s true that the

Georgians are crazy drivers – they seem never to have heard of speed limits or yielding priority – but we decided to risk it and rent a Jeep. (The vehicle we got was almost new, with air conditioning and plenty of extras.) This turned out to be a good choice because there really are a lot of roads in such terrible condition that a standard hatchback wouldn’t have had hope. We quickly got the hang of it, though, and soon driving here became second nature! We’ve been to a lot of countries, but never one with as many police cars as Georgia – they’re practically on top of each other! Interestingly, they don’t bother about the speed limit or the fact that cars are frequently three abreast on a two-lane road, but we got fined for not stopping at a stop sign.

Cows, horses, pigs, and dogs were a frequent sight along the 2000km of Georgian roads we drove, but far from detracting from the experience, they added a lot to it! (v. z. 2017)


By public transport

In Georgia, urban public transport is not expensive, but not properly transparent somewhat chaotic. For the tourists, the use of public transport is complicated as the directions signs on vehicles are in Georgian.


By marshrutka

These are share taxis, a heritage from the Soviet era. These minivans can be stopped virtually anywhere on a given route, causing considerable annoyance to the hasty passengers already on board.

Georgia - Yerevan - marshrutka comfort - k-t.g. photo

Georgia - freelance cow - z.k. photo

Georgia - trolleybus - k.b. photo

Accomodation

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Georgia - Batumi - Hotel Sweet Home - Ata photo

Food

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Georgia - pie - v.z. photo

Georgia - khatchapuri - Georgian cheese bread - l.s. photo

Georgia - street sale of kvass, a refresment beverage fermented from rye bread - m.z. photo

Georgia - Yerevan - tongue of mother-in-law for about 5 USD - reasonable price for getting silence - k-t.g.

Shopping

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Georgia - Kutaisi - market-woman - Suzy photo

Georgia - Batumi - money changers - k-t.g. photo

Georgia - hens for sale - j.h. photo

Fun

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Georgia - traditional dance

Georgia - Folk music choir - Andras Schmied's photo

Public safety

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Georgia - police

Georgia - police women

Georgia - Batumi - security - Ata photo

Health

In Georgia, the public health infrastructure is somewhat outdated. There is adequate private medical care in the capital and larger cities, but it is costly. Georgian doctors and hospitals often ask advance payment for the treatment.

When buying medicine, you better pay special attention to the warranty for the item.

Consumption of tap water nowhere is recommended. Bottled water available in stores is of adequate quality.

Others

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Georgia - Katskhi Pillar is one of the world’s most isolated and highest church and monastery - l.s. photo

Georgia - bearskin? - j.p. photo

Georgia - church people - Andras Schmied's photo

Background

Georgia - National flag - the floating of national pride

Destination in brief

Georgia in brief 

Georgia is an Eastern European country located in the mountainous Caucasus region and straddling Europe and Western Asia. Neighbors: Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan (south), Russia (north). Its west coast is on the Black Sea. 

Georgians call their country Sakartvelo. Russians called it Gruzia, based on its Persian (Gorj) and Turkish (Gurju) names. The Brits started calling the country Georgia instead of Gruzia in the Middle Ages.

Size: 69,700 km² (26,911 mi²) - 60% of the territory is made up of pine forests.

Capital city: Tbilisi (or Tiflis)

Population: 3.9 million (2019)

Georgians are indigenous on this land. They have always lived there. 

Official language: Georgian (Kartvelian) is a unique, isolated language, with no relation to any other language. Even their alphabet is totally unique

Middle-aged and elderly locals all speak Russian as their country was part of the Soviet Union from about 1922 until 1991. 

Religion: 80% of the population is Eastern Orthodox Christian.

A significant majority of Georgians regularly attends church and has deeply held religious beliefs. The head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, the Patriarch, is the most popular person in the country. 

Most frequent surname: Beridze

Stalin, the Soviet dictator, was of Georgian origin. His original name was Jughashvili. Stalin is not popular among Georgians. In 2010, the authorities removed his statue from the central square of Gori, his hometown. 

Official currency: Lari (GEL) 

Average net monthly salary: 290 USD (2019)

Georgians use a vigesimal numbering system instead of the widely used decimal one

Public safety is good and health and hygiene conditions are decent.

Most frequented tourist attractions: Tbilisi, Gergeti Trinity Church, Davit Gareja Cliff Monastery, Sighnaghi, Ushguli, Kazbegi, Ananuri Castle

Some stereotypes about Georgians: 

Very family-oriented, homophobic, temperamental, they hate everything that reminds them of the Soviet era, very hospitable, they complain a lot about the economic situation but believe at the same time that the Garden of Eden was located in Georgia, most of the men are macho but also very passionate lovers and romantic, they hate rules.

Geography

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Georgia - landscape - v.z. photo

Georgia - Kincha waterfall - a.k. photo

Georgia - Vashlovani - l.s. photo

Climate

Spring (especially May-June) is extremely rainy, and summer (especially July-August) is usually hot. The winter is mild. There is a big difference between the weather in the capital, the sloping areas, and the mountains, where it is usually 4-5 degrees cooler.

History

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Georgia - Mtskheta - Svetitskhoveli Cathedral from the 11th century - UNESCO World Heritage - Elter photo

Georgia - Mural remembering 1783 when tsarina Catherine II of Russia guaranteed Georgia's territorial integrity in a treaty - v.z. photo

Nowadays

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Georgia - low-class townhouse - v.j.

Georgia - Tbilisi - architectural taste aberration - k-t.g. photo

Georgia - Kutaisi - genre photo - e.s. photo

People

“’Georgia may be a poor country, and everything may seem to us to cost only pennies, but the locals, especially in the countryside, are extremely generous, and if they have time, they always invite me in for a drink.

We were visiting a monastery when a family of melon-growers and wine producers saw us, and though we didn’t have any common language, we had a great time, and exchanged a lot of toasts’ – that’s how PEter describes one of his experiences. The fact is, though, that legendary Georgian hospitality extends even to the capital: A group of people were sitting near the Tbilisi tv tower, admiring the view, when they struck up a conversation with a group of Georgians and Azeris sitting next to them. These did not want to let them leave Georgia without experiencing the best khinkali in the region, served alongside the national dish, a sort of pastry stuffed with meat. ‘We were just sitting there relaxing, chatting to some other young people, when a middle aged guy simply stopped by with a couple of beers, looking for someone to share a quick toast.’” (2015)


Georgia - domino players and the abacus - k-t.g. photo

Georgia - the aged gentleman - l.s. photo

Georgia - newlyweds and the tactless shadow of the photographer - Elter photo

Georgia - kiss curls - Elter photo

Georgia - village auntie - Andras Schmied's photo

Georgia - the pebbles do not slow down the definite steps

Gastronomy

“The Georgians don’t simply eat – rather it’s as though every meal is a feast of celebration. A great atmosphere, strong flavors, and delicious dishes – it’s impossible to go hungry in this country. You may already have heard of khachapuri, that miracle of cheese, egg and buttered pastry, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. At any Georgian banquet, a veritable raft of dishes, each very different from the last, will be laid before you. 

There’s one thing, however, which it doesn’t hurt to know: Georgians generally eat meat with meat, perhaps with a little side of meat, and only then, if there’s room, some pastry and vegetables. In other words, this food is heavy – it might even be the heaviest on the planet. Once you’ve experienced Georgian cooking, it will no longer surprise you that almost every middle-aged Georgian has the same stout figure.” (2017)

Georgia - Achma is a type of Khachapuria (like a cheesy and crispy lasagna) - l.s. photo

Georgia - Batumi - kvas (a fermented grain drink) - Ata photo

Georgia - khinkali a local dumpling - a.k. photo

Attractions

Monasteries, churches

Georgia - Bodbe, near Signaghi - Saint Nino Monastery, a Georgian Orthodox monastic complex - a.k. photo

Georgia - Gelati Monastery - Andras Schmied's photo

Georgia - Ananuri fortress with the Assumption Church in the background - Elter photo

Georgia - Bagrati Cathedral - Andras Schmied's photo

Batumi

Batumi - a.a. photo

Georgia - Batumi - Europe Square -l.s. photo

Georgia - Batumi - Tsminda Sameba Monastery Sameba - l.s. photo

Batumi - promenade - a.a. photo

Batumi - Ali and Nino love story art metal statue - a.a. photo

Batumi - beach - Ata photo

Kutaisi

Georgia - Kutaisi - Colchis Fountain - l.s. photo

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