I had a lovely long weekend last week. Made a short trip to Tbilisi, Georgia with 2 of my colleagues from work for 3 nights and had a blast!
A beautiful country and one that would be much more appreciated in the spring/summer than in winter. It is much too cold now and being someone who loves the heat, I still enjoyed the beauty of the place.
We went on Thursday evening and got back Monday morning. Visas are upon arrival in Georgia and that is one major plus-factor for most us expats from the GCC who needs to get visas prior to travel to any country. So any expat holding a valid Residence Permit from any of the GCC countries can travel to Georgia without any visa fuss .
Somebody also told me that Georgian immigration greets all visitors with a welcome drink! Which didn’t happen with us, though 🙂 . Must have been wishful thinking on their part!
Our guide (Nino) and driver (Zaza) from Wonders Infinity Group (Tour Operator) were the most fun-filled guide and driver I have ever met! Kept us in peals of laughter with their camaraderie on whose village is the best kept secret in Georgia and general bickering. What was so charming about them was how passionate they were about their country. They tried to show us every little thing there was to see with so much enthusiasm, it was infectious. And what we loved most about the place was how genuine, friendly and unpretentious the people were.
We visited Georgia’s best Ski Resort – Gudauri – where I had my first ever paragliding experience! It was amazing and although I am glad I did it, I wished with all of my being that it wasn’t so freezing cold! I was almost on the verge of frostbites and I could actually feel my feet and fingers frozen in places and desperately wanted it to end. Minus 20 degrees is no joke!
The second day took us to Lake Lopota in the beautiful wine-making region of Kakheti. If it was summer, the place would have been lush green. But winter saw us passing acres of snowy and brown landscape in Kakheti that were actually vineyards with millions of stems sticking out of the ground. Come August, they would be ripe for harvest. Lake Lopota is a resort perfect for families and also corporate events with a private lake, surrounding which are hotels, cottages, swimming pools, sauna, spa, restaurants and even a stable. We took turns to ride a lovely chest-nut brown horse named Nisha. That was a first too, for me. We also spent a few moments admiring the rakish, stable-boys. I couldn’t help thinking how one of them looked a little like Jake Gyllenhaal 😀
The last day was spent in the city of Tbilisi and a long drive to Mtshketa. The quaint old town of Tbilisi, the museums, the monasteries and churches in both Tbilisi and Mtshketa all had their own charm. If you like touring places where old is gold, then Georgia is definitely a must-see. The Svetitskhoveli Cathedral located in Mtshketa preserves the cloaks of Christ and the Prophet Elijah. We can’t see them, though, because they are buried underground. But I was still in awe at being so close to something so historically and spiritually powerful.
The Zhinvali Water Reservoir – It looks more beautiful on my phone where the water is actually turquoise colored 🙂
Dining and shopping is very, very, very reasonably priced. They do not have brands in the likes of a Dior or a Chanel. But they do have brands like Zara, Mango, Aldo, Charles & Keith, Clarks etc to name a few with prices being half of what I would have paid for in Kuwait. Their food is fresh and all produce comes from their local villages and mountains. I am told restaurants are not allowed to use frozen stuff which is not so hard to believe because we could actually taste the difference in the food there and what we are used to here in Kuwait. We got the chance to try out the Georgian Chacha too! Burned down my throat all the way to the tips of my toes!! All I could muster were 3 sips. Its supposed to be a drink for real men, apparently 😀
The country will soon be a part of the EU in another 3 months and tourism is still in its infancy. English is not widely spoken, so having a guide with you to tour around is the way to go.
A totally charming place with great value for money and definitely worthy of a visit.