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Asia » Georgia » Georgia

Georgia is a country in the Caucasus. It lies at the eastern end of the Black Sea, with Turkey and Armenia to the south, Azerbaijan to the east, and Russia to the north, over the Caucasus Mountains. Georgia (along with Armenia) is a land filled with magnificent history and unparalleled natural beauty. Archaeologists found the oldest traces of wine production (8000 BC) in Georgia. For those of us in the West, we unfortunately get precious little exposure to this stretch of land between the Black and Caspian seas. However, this is changing drastically.

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Cuisine of Georgia

The cuisine of Georgia is justly famous throughout the region (visitors to Moscow will have noticed the amount of Georgian restaurants). Popular "national" dishes include "khachapuri" (A cheese filled bread, it more resembles cheese pie) and khinkali (minced, spiced meat in a dumpling, served in enormous quantities). While the khachapuri comes with every meal (and it's very possible to get tired of this), khinkali is usually reserved for its own separate meal, where Georgian men will down 15 huge dumplings like it's no big deal. Mtsvadi, a tasty grilled chunks of marinaded pork or veal on stick with onions, is another staple. But this is by no means the end of the list of wonderful dishes, usually flavored with garlic, coriander, walnuts, and dill. A traditional Georgian feast (supra) is truly a sight to behold, with a spread that no group could finish, accompanied by at least 20 toasts set to wine or brandy.



Where to sleep

The number of major Western hotels in Georgia is growing every year, and not only in Tbilisi, but also in Batumi and other Georgian cities. Throughout much of the countryside, however, private homes are the cheapest and most enjoyable option, though this option is very much a homestay; expect little privacy. In general, accommodation in Georgia, particularly outside of Tbilisi and Batumi, is overpriced, and as tourism remains a fledgling industry, service at hotels often leaves something to be desired (such as a lack of toilet paper).



Sights in Georgia

• Mutso: From Shatili the track continues 3km northeast to the border of Chechnya. Before the border you'll encounter a 'No Entry' sign, but you can turn south up the Andaki valley to almost-empty Mutso , about 8km from Shatili. Mutso's roofless old village on a very steep rock pinnacle across the river is one of the most spectacular in Khevsureti, with large stone tombs in which you can see human skulls.

• Tsminda Sameba Church: The 14th-century Holy Trinity Church above Kazbegi at 2200m has become something of a symbol of Georgia - its beauty, piety and the fierce determination to build it on such a lofty, isolated perch are all emblematic of the country and its people. The walk up to the church and the panoramas this affords are a highlight of Georgia.

• lexander Kazbegi Museum: Alexander Kazbegi (1848-93) made the unusual decision to become a shepherd after studying in Tbilisi, St Petersburg and Moscow. Later he worked as a journalist and wrote the novels and plays that made him famous. 

• Uplistsikhe: Uplistsikhe is strategically located, with a deep valley to the east and cliffs to the west. Entering the main part of the site, you pass through what was the main gate, at the head of a small ravine, then wind your way up the main street.

• Udabno: The caves of Udabno were churches or chapels or rooms, and their inner walls still bear frescoes painted by the renowned fresco school that flourished here between the 10th and 13th centuries. 



Things to do

Gergeti Glacier: If you're up for another 900m of ascent from Tsminda Sameba, this quite strenuous walk rewards with spectacular views. The path heads straight up the ridge behind the church; an alternative route, more protected on windy days, runs up the left flank of the ridge.


Walk to the Cross: A moderately demanding half-day walk that many people do without a guide is up to the Cross, visible 900m above Mestia on the north side of the valley (actually just a single pole at research time). The views get better as you go, and from the Cross you can see the spectacular twin peaks of Mt Ushba (4710m), Georgia's toughest and most dangerous mountaineering challenge. 


City Tours & Day Trips: Good local agents can take the organisational hassle out of any kind of activity, from a city tour to a hiking expedition, and good guides can open your eyes to things you'd otherwise never know.


Walk to Ushguli: You can spend a lovely three days walking to Ushguli if you start by taking a jeep as far as Ipari (Nakipari on some maps), about 20km southeast of Mestia. From Ipari the first stage takes you to Adishi, where you can sleep at Zhora Kaldani's homestay. 


Skiing: The ski season runs from late December to some time in March. The main runs are Kokhta I, 1.5km long with a chairlift (per ride 2 GEL), on the eastern edge of town, and Didveli, 1.8km with a cable car (3 GEL), to the south. You can ice-skate and snowmobile here too.


Explore Georgia: This young company, headed by highly experienced mountain guide Nick Erkomaishvili, focuses on activity-based travel, including climbing, hiking, horse riding, bird-watching and archaeological tours.

Visit Tbilisi, do this for sightseeing and for the Georgian women! You find a lot of girls that are very nice and they love to meet tourists who are on they way to explore Georgia.


Nightlife Georgia

• 120 Tavern & Music Hall  - Marietta (No dance floor, non smoking) 

• 333 On Broad  - Rome (No dance floor) 

• Aarons Amphitheatre  - Atlanta 

• The Barn  - Meigs (Dance floor. Non Smoking) 

• Big Rax  - Albany (Dance floor. Non Smoking) 

• Bootleggers  -  Athens 

• Bootleggers  - Columbus (No dance floor) 

• Branch House Tavern  -  Flowery Branch (Check schedule for country) 

• Brickhouse Grille & Tavern  - Newnan (Check schedule for country. Some dancing, non smoking) 

• Buck's Place - Ellaville 

• Cafe 212  - Rockmart (Closed) 

• Capital City - Milledgeville (Some country, check website for schedule) 

• Club 201  -  Alpharetta (Country bands on Sat nights - large dance floor - dance lessons - non smoking) 

• Country Club - Augusta (Mostly country to bigger name concerts. Second largest dance floor in state. Dance lessons. Non smoking but smoking room. )