Exotic, beautiful, delicious. If you haven’t been to Georgia yet, get there ASAP!

I’ve been feeling for a long time that Georgia will be a tourist hit and the atmosphere I like in travel. I was not wrong! This is exoticism of the best kind, friendly people, delicious food. And wine. Lots of wine!

Georgia – the only one of its kind

Beautiful, wild, unique – these three words best describe my impressions after a stay in Georgia. First of all, the nature is beautiful – driving along Georgian roads, you can endlessly stare at the green, mountainous landscape.

Wild means: having its own climate, free from crowds and tourist trinkets, so numerous in European resorts, not trampled by visitors. This wildness, of course, also has its drawbacks: there are more middle-class roads than highways in Georgia, and many houses and tenement houses require investment and thorough renovation. All the more reason to go there right now: to feel that wildness and uniqueness, to support Georgian tourism and. to return in a few years to see how much has changed.

And what is the uniqueness of Georgia? At every step you can feel the difficult, intricate history of this country: beautiful century-old tenements mix with post-Soviet molochs, and sometimes with super-modern buildings erected already in the 21st century. Georgians promote their own culture, their own cuisine and their own customs. Even the fact that European roaming is not available here, can be considered as a sign of exoticism and a break from contact with the world.

Nature – a true wonder

The long list of my admiration for Georgia should begin with a word about Georgian nature, which is simply insanely beautiful. Mountainous landscape and ubiquitous greenery – this is the first thing you notice after landing at the airport in Kutaisi. This landscape will not leave me during my whole Georgia trek and will remain in my memory for long.

I had several opportunities to meet Georgian nature, but two wonders delighted me the most.

The first one is Okatse canyon, located near Kutaisi. We admire the canyon from the top, walking on bridges suspended directly over the abyss. The walk is moderately demanding in terms of fitness, but people with a fear of heights and space may feel a shiver running down their spine. It is worth overcoming this fear! A huge, green canyon, picturesque waterfall, rustling deep below and, most of all, an observation deck suspended in the air – these are the places, which intimidate with their charm. A must-see point on the Georgian route.

Not far from Okatse there is Martvili Gorge, the second pearl of Georgian nature. A heavenly turquoise river flows at the bottom of the gorge. We visit the gorge. We go on this river in pontoons. The cruise does not last long, but it is enough to saturate your eyes and enjoy the magic of this place. The second part of the tour is a walk among rocks and waterfalls. The murmur of the waterfalls is wonderfully relaxing and the views work on your imagination. I recommend!

Wine from breakfast!

Georgians believe that they invented wine – they can even provide scientific evidence for it. Wine is their favorite beverage. It happens that they drink a few sips already in the morning. In hotel restaurants, I used to find a carafe of red wine on the breakfast table next to coffee, tea and water. However, those who think that Georgians just want to get drunk are wrong. Drinking wine is a real ritual for them, an opportunity to meet and celebrate everyday life. Georgian art of making epic toasts has no equal. Residents of this country also love long feasts, during which they eat, drink and enjoy the meeting. Amidst the joyful bustle, every few moments a shout can be heard: “Gaumarjos!”, meaning “Cheers!”.

While in Georgia, I had the opportunity to visit some of the local wineries and they were fascinating visits. Many families here run small, local wineries where they make their own wine, usually in several varieties. They are eager and passionate to tell their visitors about their products, guiding them through lush vines or sunken vats of fermenting wine. Finally, the question is asked, “Would you like to try it?” and the delighted host dips the jug into the vat full of grapes before filling the glasses with wine.

A slight buzz in my head was part and parcel of visiting this country, but one thing is for sure: the wines here are second to none!

Khachapuri and company

It’s hard to talk about drinks without mentioning Georgian cuisine. And the cuisine here is truly unique! Georgian classic, popular also in our country, is of course chachapuri, which is available in several versions. There is adjar chachapuri – of a characteristic shape, with cheese and egg on top. There is also the Imeretin chachapuri, in the form of a yeast cake filled with cheese filling, and the Megrel chachapuri, with additional cheese on top. Which tastes best? Come, taste and choose for yourself. My favorite is imeretinsky, the most classic. You can eat it without moderation!

Second obligatory Georgian dish is chinkali, well known also by those who have never been in Georgia. These are meat dumplings filled with broth, which in a characteristic way seeps from them during consumption. And we consume them with hands – without using cutlery!

But Georgian cuisine is also about vegetables! Corn bread pancakes served with multicolored spinach, beet or paprika pastes are often served as appetizers. On Georgian tables there is no shortage of green beans, sweet red peppers, eggplants, olives and mushrooms. My personal discovery was breaded cauliflower in walnut sauce. Anyway, these nuts, called by Georgians Greek nuts, grow here abundantly, so the locals add them to everything they can: ground to meat and sauces, roasted to salads, marinated to sweets.

Lovers of meat dishes (obligatory: roasted chicken) and fish will also find a lot of delicacies in Georgia.

Amateurs of culinary tourism, which in recent years are increasing dynamically, will have a real paradise in Georgia. Georgians, proud of their gastronomic traditions, love to talk about food, recommend home-made dishes, explain how to prepare them and how to eat them. And there are plenty of restaurants here. From small, family restaurants where we feel as if someone invited us home for a self-prepared meal to really exquisite and elegant ones. Regardless of the size of our wallet – everyone will find here an opportunity to convince themselves that Georgian cuisine is simply delicious. Wy-bor-na!

Poland? Kaczynski!

Before I went to Georgia, I heard from many people that Georgians are very fond of Poles and have great sentiment for President Lech Kaczynski, who in 2008 came to war-stricken Georgia and strongly supported its independence. These predictions were confirmed on the spot, although I have a feeling that even without geopolitical accents my admiration for Georgians would be equally great. Speaking of political situation, Georgia is a safe and tourist-friendly country. Calmness can be felt at every step, which is confirmed by annual Numbeo report, which for several years recognizes Georgia as one of the safest countries in the region.

Tamada for freedom

Georgians are warm and cheerful. No matter if we deal with a waiter in a restaurant, a winery owner or a random passer-by, we feel joy and kindness, also from people who live modest lives. Restaurateurs, vineyard owners, members of vocal and music bands playing in restaurants, drivers and local guides – they all share a sense of being ambassadors of Georgian culture and the bearers of local tradition. Their pride in showing the beauty of Georgia to foreign tourists touched me throughout my stay and still does today.

Georgian nature is perfectly reflected in tamada – a beautiful custom of toasting during feasts. The first toast, made by the host, is always drunk to freedom, because – as Georgians claim – inhabitants of this country perfectly remember how long and hard they had to fight for this freedom. Further toasts, to which the guests are also encouraged, are made to love, friendship or brotherhood. The more wine, the easier it is to make lofty words.

Cows on the road, dogs in the streets

Georgians have unusual attitude towards animals: full of respect and tolerance, which can be seen almost at every step. Driving through Georgian villages and off-roads, one can often see a herd of cows on the roadside (or in the middle). Drivers stop to let the animals pass or calmly avoid them.

In larger and smaller towns there are many free-living dogs and cats. It’s hard to even call them homeless, because most of them stick to one house or a particular neighborhood. They are fed, completely harmless, very friendly and eager for tourists’ attention. Dogs live in more numerous packs, those that live in bigger cities have chips in their ears. Cats look well cared for (I have seen the action of collective vaccinating of stray kittens), they are trustful, let themselves be stroked and willingly pose for photos.

Ubiquitous dogs and cats have so strongly grown into Georgian landscape that in every souvenir store, next to magnets with wine and khachapuri, you will find plenty of dog and cat gadgets.

To the sea, to skiing, to sightseeing

Finally, a handful of tourist brochure facts. Small Georgia has a lot to offer to every tourist. Fans of urban trekking will find a lot of attractions in the capital city Tbilisi and its surroundings. For fans of wild places and untamed nature I recommend Okatse canyon and Martvili gorge with beautiful waterfalls – both places can be found near Kutaisi, the third largest city in Georgia. Amateurs of beaches and sea bathing can go to legendary Batumi, in which supposedly you can still hear some sounds of famous Polish Filipinki hit. Georgia also has a lot to offer for winter sports fans. The largest and most popular ski resort is located in Gudauri, a town in the north-east of the country. Thanks to the air masses coming from the Black Sea, skiers can count on excellent skiing conditions here, as well as enjoy the magnificent views of Caucasian peaks.

The flight from Warsaw to Kutaisi takes three hours. During this trip it feels as if the calendar has turned back a month. Leaving Poland at the end of October, I was not prepared for such high temperatures, which reached even 23 degrees and allowed me to walk around Tbilisi in a short sleeve. Georgia is a perfect option for a late summer vacation – even in November the temperature does not fall below 15 degrees, it is warm and sunny.

The hotel base in this country is impressive: it is diverse and classy. With a clear conscience I can recommend both places where I stayed during my travels around Georgia. In Kutaisi it was climatic, boutique hotel Solomon, and in Tbilisi – elegant The Terrace, with all amenities and the most beautiful view of the city.

Is it cheap in Georgia? In elegant restaurants or stores in Tbilisi prices are slightly higher than in Poland. It is also more expensive in places, where tourists can be met: for example in Mtskheta, a former capital of Georgia. Generally it is cheaper than in Poland.

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