Georgia is still an underrated and unknown destination to many. Those who have been to Georgia remember the charm, beauty, and hospitality of the country. Situated midway between Europe and Asia, this small nation packs a lot in – ancient cities, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, snowy mountains, lush nature, and delicious wine. And if you are among those who haven’t visited you must put this unbelievably beautiful country on your bucket list.
Places to visit
1. Tbilisi – Heart of the Georgia
The name Tbilisi originated from the Georgian word tbili which means warm. Legend connected with the city’s beginning says that famed 5th century Georgian tsar Vakhtang Gorgasali was hunting near Mtatsminda in the present day neighborhood of Sololaki when he saw a pheasant. He sent his falcon to retrieve it, but both birds disappeared. When the birds were found boiled in a hot spring. Vakhtang ordered that a city be built on the site of the west bank of the Mtkvari River.The silhouette of Tbilisi is immediately recognizable and unique. The monumental sculpture of Kartlis Deda, Mother of Georgia, stands above central Tbilisi. Across the canyon atop Mtatsminda, Holy Mountain, sits the brightly lit space needle style communications tower visible from anywhere in the city.
2. Batumi – Pearl Of the Black Sea
Batumi—the “Pearl of the Black Sea,” as it is often called—is located in the autonomous republic of Adjara. European architects undertook numerous projects in Batumi at the beginning of the 20th century, and today it remains a hub of architectural innovation. One of the most beautiful regions in Georgia, Adjara is situated in southwest Georgia on the Black Sea coastline. Turkey borders Adjara to the south.Adjara’s visitors especially admire the region’s pristine and unaltered nature, and it is particularly intriguing for eco tourists.
3. Gudauri – Winter Wonderland
Gudauri – Winter sports resort located at Kazbegi region of Georgia, 120 km from Tbilisi, at the height of 2,196 m (about 7,200 feet) near the Cross Pass. Skiing season lasts from December to April, comfort skiing on all routes. In May skiing is possible on the five (highest) lift or even on the second lift in snow years. Five-star ski resort on the height of 3006m .Gudauri is a small touristic settlement and ski mountain resort located at the altitude of 3,000m on the southern slopes of the Lesser Caucuses range of Georgia. Gudauri is situated 120 km from Tbilisi. You can reach it by the Georgian Military Road for about 2 hours by car.
4. Svaneti – Beautiful, wild and mysterious
Beautiful, wild and mysterious, Svaneti is an ancient land locked in the Caucasus, so remote that it was never tamed by any ruler. Uniquely picturesque villages and snow-covered, 4000m-plus peaks rising above flower-strewn alpine meadows provide a superb backdrop to the many walking trails. Svaneti’s emblem is the koshki(defensive stone tower), designed to house villagers at times of invasion and local strife (until recently Svaneti was renowned for its murderous blood feuds). Around 175 koshkebi, most originally built between the 9th and 13th centuries, survive here today.
5. Kazbegi – Place were sky is no limit
Stepantsminda, commonly known as Kazbegi, is a small town in the north-east Georgia, close to the Russian border. It is one of the must see destinations in Georgia, mostly due to amazing hiking routes and stunning nature.
5. Kakheti – Land Of Grapes
Kakheti is the largest region of Georgia. It is one of the diverse regions, but it is also known to everyone, that Kakheti is the land of Grapes. The fifth part of vineyards in the nation belong to Kakheti, while grapes grown here amount to the half of the grape harvest in the country. But, of course, this is not everything. As soon as you get close to Kakheti, on the way the smell of hot, freshly baked traditional Shoti (local special bread, kind of long pointed loaf) will hit you. You will have an itch of eating it immediately, with local amazing cheese and butter. Oh, and most delicious, Churchxela (known as Georgian Snikers). Once you taste KaKhetian cousin, you will hardly ever wish anything better.
Best experience for Gourmands
Today’s Georgian cuisine is a rich interplay between Mediterranean and Middle Eastern tastes. Georgian food and wine culture is best observed through Supra – traditional feast featuring a wide array of assortment of dishes always accompanied by large amounts of wine, lasting several hours.
Khachapuri is one of the dishes that is very, very popular both in Georgia. There are several types of Khachapuri one might encounter throughout Georgia. There is Imeruli, Megruli, Guruli, Osuri, Svanuri, Rachuli, Penovani, etc. Each one of these are made in slightly different variations. Adjarian khachapuri will also remind you of Turkish Pide. Turkish pide can be made with lots of savory toppings, where Khachapuri is strictly a cheese and a thicker crust thing. Some variations can be made with the addition of an egg.
2. Khinkali – featured among world’s 21 different types of dumplings
Gebjalia – Cheese roulette in Sauce, with Mint and Green Chili
Elarji (Georgian: ელარჯი) is a popular dish from Samegrelo region, made from coarse cornmeal, cornflour and Sulguni cheese.
Another common side dish is beans, called lobio, made with beans, onions, and herbs. Each recipe we tried was a little different. Some are thick and creamy (our favorite). Some are soupy. Lobio is usually served in a traditional small clay jar.
Mtsvadi is a Georgian shish kebab. It is distinguished by special aroma and juiciness. It is cooked mainly from beef. There are three kinds of mtsvadi. The first is a shish kebab from a big chunk of fillet. Then there is a shish kebab from basturma – marinated meat. And finally – a shish kebab from mutton with eggplants. In latter case meat is placed into eggplants and then put onto skewer fried on a barbeque.
Vegetables and Greens
Georgia is a fertile country in which vegetables were widely used as food. The abundance of meats on a Georgian table is always accompanied by considerable quantity of vegetables and greens. The majority of vegetable dishes is cooked with string beans, eggplants, cabbage, beets, tomatoes. They can be raw, boiled, baked, fried, stewed, salted and marinated. Georgian cuisine lists dozens dishes from eggplants which are boiled, baked, stewed and fried and then mixed with various spices and seasonings. The icon dish in any Georgian feast is lobio (string beans) which is cooked differently in various parts of Georgia. Various pickles and marinades are famous too: marinated pepper, tomatoes, cabbage (tsnili).
Not any feast in Georgia can do without a vast amount of various greens. Greens are used in food all year round and are served for breakfast, lunch and supper. Depending on a season, it can be parsley, fennel, ramson, mint, lettuce, basil, savory, estragon other greens. Greens are often accompanied by garden radish, radish, whole tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.
Mkhali is an original vegetable salad (with one basic vegetable) spiced with an original seasoning. Cabbage, beet, spinach, sweet pepper and onions can be used as basic vegetables for mkhali. The seasoning necessarily includes walnuts, wine vinegar, garlic, coriander, red pepper, parsley greens, and salt. All vegetable are thermally processed. They are boiled or baked then crushed and mixed with the seasoning. The combination of boiled or baked vegetables with fresh spicy greens and nuts creates a special taste distinguishing mkhali from other vegetable dishes.
Some Facts about Georgia
1. Georgia is the cradle of winemaking.
Georgia has been producing wine for at least 8,000 years and is considered to be the birthplace of the beverage. The production of the wine was accidental. The grape juice poured in a shallow pit and was buried under the ground, turning it into wine. UNESCO has listed the traditional Georgian winemaking method – in a clay jar called a Qvevri – on its Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.
2. No one speaks the Georgian language except for Georgians.
The Georgian language among 14 unique languages in the world and has its own alphabet. Georgian script used to be three different languages throughout its existence – Nuskhuri, Asomtaruli, and Mkhedruli. The one that Georgians use today is the latter and has 33 letters.
3. It is one of the most ecologically diverse places in the world.
Georgia has 12 different climate zones, ranging from subtropical to alpine to semi-desert, and has 49 types of soil. This makes Georgia one of the most ecologically diverse countries on Earth. In addition, many of the most exciting animals like leopards, lynxes, and bears reside in the dense forests of the country.
4. It has Europe’s highest permanent settlement.
The villages of Bochorna and Ushguli are the highest permanent settlements in Europe at 2,345 and 2,100 meters above sea level, respectively. Both are mountainous regions where summer is short and winter is snowy and breezy.
5. It is known for its polyphonic folk music.
Georgia is known for its choral folk music, catching the attention of UNESCO which listed it on the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list in 2008. There are three different types of polyphony: complex common in Svaneti, polyphonic dialogue over a bass background known in eastern Georgia, and contrasted with three partially improvised sung parts common in the west.