By Rohnish Sabharwal
Virgin landscapes. Ancient riverside cities. And the world’s best wine for the price of a coffee! This puts Georgia on the very top of our wish list.
So where exactly is Georgia? Let the map tell you!
We interviewed Rohnish Sabharwal to get an insider’s guide to Georgia:
3 Georgia secrets most people don’t know:
1. New archaeological evidence shows that Georgia is probably the oldest European civilization.
2. According to Orthodox tradition, Christianity was first preached in Georgia by the Apostles Simon and Andrew in the 1st century.
3. Georgia is the world’s cradle of wine. Its wines are among the oldest and best in the world, and they are not expensive either!
How was the weather?
In the month of July, the capital city Tbilisi is warm but pleasant. So, Max temp is 29 deg C and minimum at night dipped to 22 deg C. However, in higher places like Kazbeghi and Borjomi it was cooler, with an average of 15 deg C.
Was language a problem?
95% of Georgians speak English. But you might struggle a bit to communicate with the taxi drivers, who rarely speak English.
Were the locals friendly?
Georgians are extraordinarily polite and co-operative. Also, they are very helpful and don’t bluff around to pinch the extra buck from tourists.
Which places did you visit on your trip?
Tbilisi, Borjomi, Kazbeghi, Gori, Khashuri and Mtskheta.
How did you plan your trip?
We made Tbilisi our base and drove out to the other cities daily.
Your impressions of Tbilisi?
Tbilisi is a small metro city on the banks of Kura River. The city is still away from European/American hassles. It carries the influence of multiple countries such as Russia, Iran and Turkey. Further, it’s a cosmopolitan city with many ancient churches, Persian mosques and Jewish synagogues.
People around Tbilisi are not so rich as compared to those in other European countries. Therefore the cost of living is very economical. The average income of a middle class Georgian family is equivalent to Rs 20000/- per month. Local taxis are much cheaper compared to any Indian metro city. Within 4-5 Lari (less than Rs 150) one can move around from one corner of the city to another (1 Georgian Lari = Rs 31 approx.)
Can you recommend some good hotels?
• Hotel Astoria (4-Star hotel @ Rs 4-5000 per day, including breakfast).
• Also try, Golden Palace (4-Star deluxe hotel @ Rs 4-7000 per day including breakfast).
• Then there’s, Iveria Inn (4-Star deluxe hotel @ Rs 4-7000 per day including breakfast).
How was the food?
Undoubtedly, it was a treat to try Georgian food. Trout is served in every restaurant and is delicious. Since the main product of Georgia is fruits and vegetables, all restaurants serve fresh food. In addition, tinned/canned food culture does not exist at all. Furthermore, there are 7-8 good Indian restaurants as well.
Any restaurants that you loved?
In particular, Maharajah, an Indian restaurant with Georgian chefs was superb. Another restaurant above the funicular near the TV tower serves fabulous Georgian food.
Tried their street foods?
Street eats such as Kachapuri (Georgian bread with layers of cheese) and Khinkali (which looks like momos) are delicious and worth a try.
What is the cost of the following in Georgia?
a) Car rental—taxi for a short distance of about 7-8 km costs Rs 120 max. A taxi for the whole day with professional guide costs approx Rs 11, 500.
b) A bottle of local wine—varies from Rs 300 to Rs 4300.
c) An average meal for two—max Rs 600.
The most beautiful sights you saw?
Indeed it was both the Kazbeghi town and the drive to the 5th century church in Kazbeghi. Particularly, the panoramic view on the way to Kazbeghi, along with Stalin museum in Gori, which is around 10 km away from Russian occupation zone.
One memorable experience?
Borjomi city and its spas.
Good tip: Do take a winery tour; you’ll love it.
Rohnish Sabharwal is an electrical engineer based in Muscat, Oman. He travels extensively across the world on work and for leisure.
Note: Please check current prices before you make your trip to Georgia.
Video credits: Georgi Shermazanashvili
Also read: Hidden Gems of Europe
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