Georgia is a small but pretty interesting country located in Caucasus, just between Europe and Asia. The country not among the most popular travel destination and this is exactly what makes it attractive for the curious traveller. There are only few countries in the world where you can experience this weird mix of Europe and Asia, enjoy great food, hot weather, and meet very friendly people at the same time.
How To Get There
Last year we made the trip from Bulgaria to Georgia. In most cases flying directly to Tbilisi, the Georgian Capital, isn’t the best idea budget-wise. Tbilisi isn’t a big hub so unless you are from some of the neighbor countries flights may be a bit expensive. So we first took a train from Sofia, the Bulgarian Capital, to Istanbul. You can fly to Istanbul from everywhere in the world at very good prices because it’s a huge hub connecting Asia, Africa and the rest of the world.
Once you are in Istanbul there are plenty of interesting options for reaching Georgia. What we did was to get a plane to Batumi, the most popular sea-resort in Georgia. Batumi is very nice place itself, you can enjoy the sea and relax in a great atmosphere. From Batumi there are trains twice per day to Tbilisi. I recommend the overnight train but make sure you book sleeping places in advance. In our case the train was full and we had to travel in seats which wasn’t very comfortable for a 9 hours night trip.
Of course you can fly directly from Istanbul to Tbilisi. There are usually good prices for such flights.
If you feel more adventurous and have plenty of time you can take a train trip all over Turkey, from Istanbul to Erzurum. It’s a very interesting journey by itself. Then from Erzurum you’ll need to take a bus or mini-bus to Hopa, cross the border and get into the next short bus trip to Batumi.
What To See
Georgia isn’t widely known for many famous landmarks. It’s a lot more interesting to visit the cities and small towns and see how the locals live. They are very friendly and peaceful people. Inside the country locals don’t see many tourists so they can be quite curious to know more about you.
If you have enough time it’s always a good idea to visit some other of the cities like for example Kutaisi and Borzhomi. If going to Tbilisi do visit the river and the Kartlis Deda statue which is up the hills. It discovers a great view over the city.
Travelers who have more time can easily reach other two very interesting countries – Azerbaijan and Armenia which can be reached by train or mini-bus.
Food in Georgia is delicious and cheap. Some of the items there were similar to the food we have in Bulgaria but others like the famous Khachapuri were very new to me. People seem to eat a lot of bread in Georgia, and this is understandable because their bread is very delicious!
Georgia is famous for its finest wines. I’d say try also the fresh beer in Batumi and the lemonade, it’s very good. Fruits and vegetables have good taste too. It’s wise to buy them fresh from the local open markets.
Georgia is pretty safe to visit. Don’t let uneducated people to discourage you – there is no war there. The only war zone is South Ossetia which is definitely not recommended to visit. But don’t worry – you can’t enter there by coincidence. There is border control and officers will warn you and question your visit.
One of the more considerable risks in Georgia is street traffic. Drivers aren’t disciplined and don’t respect the traffic rules much. Always be careful and cross the streets on safe place. Avoid traveling by car in mountainous areas.
Other than that there isn’t much to worry about. Go ahead and visit Georgia – you’ll be surprised how exotic and friendly such less popular travel destinations can be.
Bob manages a site about independent travel to Bulgaria where you can find useful information and advice about visiting this exciting East-European country.