No, I´m not talking about Georgia as in The United States (although I thought that was the place my colleague meant when she told me she was from Georgia.. I was wrong and surprised because I never met someone from there, first time for everything! The more cultures the better.). I am talking about the Georgia which borders Turkey, Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan. This country is breathtaking, has GREAT food (the mom of my colleague makes a lot, and my lovely colleague is forced to share it with moi, of course) and it is still a little of a secret and hidden place which is one of the many reasons you and I should visit this underrated country.
So first thing first, like I said in my intro, the country is underrated. Not even a little, but most people will refer Georgia to the USA and forget or even don´t know that there is a country called that way at all. That´s the reason why this country is such a hidden gem which is still in its early stages of tourism. Yes people visit the capital, but besides that, most people don´t experience the true beauty of Georgia, which is sad for them, but pretty damn awesome for us if I´m honest. The less people, the less trash there is, the more locals will be kind towards you because you´re new and the less they will change anything to get money out of travelers. You will see a Georgia as it was quite a lot of years ago which adds up to its already enormous amount of charm.
Tbilisi, the capital is home to 1,1 million people (it is also the city from all the photos above), which is not a surprise as it´s the capital but the city itself seems to have this atmosphere of a European city quite some years ago, and that people, is a really good thing. In this city you have for everyone something to explore, you like history? Damn, you must be an awesome person because I love that too and, Tbilisi is a city that offers plenty of that. If you´re more chilled out then you are also completely welcome there. There is even a more modern part of the city which is also very cool (like you can see when you look at that bridge). Actually, the only people who aren´t welcome in Tbilisi are people who aren´t welcome anywhere. People who do not care about where they are, who do not care about the culture and who do not like to try new things. So, are you already convinced? No? Well, you will be when you´re finished with this post.
3.Two colours river
I don´t know if you ever heard of the place where the Amazon river flows into another river? The two colours that slowly collide into each other which looks like a fairy tale really. It´s so special to see that you just don´t even think it is real. Guess what? It definitely is real, you are not dreaming and, the best part comes now, they have that in Georgia too. Just when you think this country cannot get any more special, there it is. It is smaller than the collision in the Amazon river, but therefore not less special. I am always in awe of how nature is able to create the most spectacular things, and this, is one experience you won´t forget for the rest of your life.
I told you guys in the intro that I force my colleague to share her food with me, so you guys should´ve known that this subject would come up in this post. So seriously, I like food, a lot. I like to smell food and, most importantly I like to eat it (I´m not that fond of sharing but it depends on the situation, I can be nice too). And I do not know what those Georgians do with their food (kidding I totally know, HERBS!!), but it´s delicious. It is tasty, it is healthy and it makes you want more and more and more every time you taste it. When you taste it for the first time it will be quite new and different than anything you tried before, but in a really good way. So, my fellow foodlovers, I have the feeling you just finished your transaction for your ticket to Georgia, am I right?
The nature in Georgia is just simply breathtaking. Endless of roads, well they´re called roads but clearly are not really roads, while you´re passing by numerous of mountains with snow on their tops, or completely covered. You will see a country like you have never seen before since, well, you haven´t seen it like this because Georgia is different than any other country. It´s not a typical country (if there are any, but you know what I mean). Since it is located in an area where there are not many tourists or travelers everything is still intact which is something extremely valuable and worth visiting so you can remember for the rest of your life how a country looked before the madness arrived.
The country is home to some of the most amazing little villages and towns that are located at the most awesome places. You wouldn´t have to pay me if I´m stuck there for a week or two, just to explore the place, to meet the locals and to discover the area. Some amazing, seriously with amazing I mean AMAZING, places are Svaneti, Ushguli, Telavi, Tusheti and Sighnaghi. To be honest, I have no idea how to pronounce any of the places, but because they sound so different than the usual places we hear a lot it just attracts me even more.
I told you guys already that this country has it all basically, also located here and in an astonishing number of them; viewpoints. With plenty of mountain ranges, grasslands and natural parks the country is truly spectacular with its views. Of course you can have a stop at basically every beautiful place you can (which is something I would do for sure), but some of the amazing places are Kazbegi, Tushheti and Sighnaghi (cute towns and viewpoints combined?! Can live get any better? No.)
The photo above is from the surroundings or Stepantsminda. Stepantsminda is a city located in such an incredible location you would almost forget to breathe. Don´t do that by the way, it´s not handy if you want to experience this country longer than those days until you arrived here. There are endless exploring options as the city lies at around 1700 meters above sea level. ´That´s how you do it Dutch people´, that´s what they would probably think. But to be honest, credits to them. The city has around 1800 inhabitants which makes connecting to the people here quite special because it´s relatively small, especially compared to Tbilisi.
Okay, let´s be really honest, back home I never tend to go to churches. But when I´m in another country I cannot get enough of them. Therefore this monastery is quite a special one that I will definitely visit once I´m in Georgia. It is located in Mtskheta (try to pronounce that, I dare you, unless you´re Georgian or speak it..) and it was built in the 4th century, yes, in the 4th. Can you imagine how much history happened there? Can you imagine walking through a building like that to just feel the history flowing through your veins? Me too. Incredible. And even though the church is not that big, it doesn´t make it any less special. Even the famous Georgian monk Gabriel is buried here in the yard of the church.
Another monastery, but this time, even more special than the previous one. Is that even possible? Well, apparently. See, Georgia is full of surprises. This monastery is made in a freaking cave! And monks are still living here, only five but still, every morning at seven they ring the bell in the high arch. So incredibly cool! It is one of Georgia’s most famous historical landmarks and is part of the tentative UNESCO world heritage list, so it needed to be placed on this list. It is made from the slopes of the Erusheti Mountain, on the left bank of the Kura river and around thirty kilometres from a city called Aspindza. Most of the monastery was made in the second half of the 12th century. So, look this place up on Google people, you won’t regret it.
11. Tskhratskaro pass/ Ktsia-Tabatskuri Managed Reserve
This place is truly spectacular too (it seems to be one of my favorite words to use for this country though). The pass passed amazing landscapes where you are all by yourself, or in my case all by myself (sing it, SING IT). But really this is a great pass to drive as you can also head into the Ktsia- Tabatskuri managed reserve from there, also from other places but let´s not think about that. It is not that far away from each other so je vangt twee vliegen in een klap (which is a Dutch saying that literally means you catch two flies in one slap, just so you guys no what I mean). So yeah, the reserve, a MUST visit too if you ask me.
An endless amount of exploring options. So, just imagine you have more time to explore an area (everyone wants to have more time, that´s just plain logic), why not cross a few borders and head into a complete new adventure after you´ve been discovering Georgia for the past month? You are, like I mentioned before, bordering Armenia, Russia, Turkey and Azerbaijan, but something I didn´t tell you before is that you are also only an 1,5 hour flight or a 16 hour drive away from Tehran, Iran. Iran is also one of the many countries located in the Middle East/ Central Asia that is really unexplored mainly because a lot of people fear the region a little with everything that happens lately or do not want to adjust to another culture. If you´re the last one, then just don´t go to another country anymore or adjust because countries don´t exist to please you wherever you´re going. They have a culture (you are part of one too), so respect that and adjust to it. Wear a headscarf when you´re visiting a mosque, cover your arms, legs and breast area whenever visiting a church/temple/mosque, it´s only logic thinking but important to earn some respect from locals.
13.It has it all
And the last but definitely not least reason to book that ticket to Georgia is the fact that this untouched country truly has it all. They are located at the Black Sea, the country has plenty of mountain ranges so you are able to hike off all the calories you ate because their food is to good to waste it and they have beautiful nature with endless amount of forests and grasslands.
If you would like to remember this post forever and ever, don´t forget to pin it so you can finally book your trip to this gorgeous but relatively unknown country.