Georgia – at the crossroads of Eurasia
We decided to have a short family trip which was due for long to Georgia almost suddenly. Our daughter was having short vacation from school. We decided to head to Tbilisi, Georgia which has become very popular in the last few years. It is situated at the strategically important crossroads where Europe meets Asia. More importantly, it is closer to all GCC countries (we live in Dubai, UAE). And as compared to other European travel destinations, Georgia is relatively cheaper and hence suits to everyone’s budget.
Georgia is a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. It is bounded to the West by the Black Sea, to the North by Russia, to the South by Turkey and Armenia, and to the Southeast by Azerbaijan. (Wikipedia). We traveled to Georgia from 20th March to 23rd March for 4 days. Here is our 4-day itinerary in this country which has history, culture and great natural beauty.
Tbilisi – Georgia’s charming capital
We started our first day with Tbilisi city tour. The name Tbilisi is originated from the Georgian word tbili which means warm. We took cable car right up to the monumental sculpture, Kartlis Deda , Mother of Georgia (20 meter in height) stands above central Tbilisi. She is Georgia’s most famous and recognized woman. Also, near the sculpture is Narikala Fortress, a ruined castle which offers spectacular view of old town.
From the fortress, we could gaze upon the charming cobble-stoned streets of old town. The roads are mingled with varied architecture which remind of its rich Russian and Persian heritage. The city is set along the river Mtkvari and one can take river cruise of entire city.
Our hotel was located in the central part of the city easily accessible to restaurants and public transport. The city tour also covers other tourist places such as Rike Park (which is shaped like map of Georgia full of picnic spots) and bow-shaped Bridge of Peace.
Mtskheta and Jvari monastery
After exploring the city throughout the day, we visited Mtskheta and Jvari monastery just before dusk. The site has been declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The site is believed to have been settled since around 3000-2000 BC. Mtskheta gained the importance as the site of the first Christian church of Georgia and is one of the oldest cities. Mtskheta was the capital of the early Georgian Kingdom of Iberia, from the 3rd century BC until the 5th century AD. At the beginning of the 6th century, King Dachi I Ujarmeli moved the capital from Mtskheta to Tbilisi, in accordance with his father’s will.
Jvari monastery is built on a rocky mountaintop and has a beautiful view of confluence of Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers. This complex contains several buildings from different periods including a classic Georgian church dating from the mid-6th century.Of late had never got an opportunity of clicking the best sunset pictures till I visited this place. It was very windy and we were literally shivering in the cool breeze. The view was very pleasant as the sky turned golden as the sun was setting.
Tour to Gudauri Mountains
The second day was very special as this excursion was main reason of our Georgia visit. We went to Gudauri Mountains which is about 120 kms north of Tbilisi.
On our way, we first stopped at Jinvali Water Reservoir. It is an amazing place to appreciate nature! Nice views and calming water and gorgeous mountains! Our next stop was Ananuri Monastery Complex – a combined castle and fortress that sits along Georgian Military Highway.
Finally we reached our destination – Gudauri mountains. It is located on the south-facing plateau of the Great Caucasus Mountain Range at height of 3000 meters. Gudauri is famous ski resort where one can experience snow in all its glory. We had a memorable experience of riding the cable car as we witnessed the beautiful mountain covered with white ice under the bright sun. There are also other fun activities as para-gliding, skiing, ice scooter. My 6 year old daughter enjoyed the most doing ice skiing and playing the snow, making the ice balls and shooting at me with fun. It was her first time playing in snow and she did quite well at her first attempt at skiing leaving us impressed!
Kakheti Wine Tour
Georgia is also famous worldwide for its varieties of wines. Our final day tour was to Kakheti – best known for traditional wine making center and fertile valleys. The grapes season is during the September end. However, we had an opportunity to visit the wine making factory to taste different types of wines.
Enroute we also visited a small village of Sighnaghi – mostly referred to as city of love. It’s a popular wedding venue and Georgians come here to have their wedding done.
Another attractive site is Furnicular Railway which runs on the steep mountain and takes you to Mtatsminda plateau that overlooks the entire city. An amusement park is located at this plateau and has carousels, water slides, a roller-coaster, funicular, and a big Ferris Wheel at the edge of the mountain, offering a splendid view over the city. The night vision from this park of the Tbilisi is spectacular.
One can enjoy their local cuisine, Khacha puri , a traditional Georgian dish of cheese filled bread with wine . Also, the more popular one is CHACHA brandy, clear & very strong, having content of 50% alcohol. It is also known as vine vodka or grape vodka.
Georgia – small nation with great culture and beauty
There’s lot more to explore about Georgia and you need to have few more days to do so. Batumi , Poti sea coast are equally beautiful. One can experience Tbilisi (both day & night) by water cruise boat on the Mtkvari river. Aerial cable car ride swinging over the river is also a good experience to cherish for a longer time.
It’s a very small country, scarcely populated and very safe. One can visit it throughout the year as every season has its own natural characteristics. Need to be geared with enough of warm clothes to shield yourself from the chilling winter & strong cool breeze.
Kindly look forward to visit this place and plan a beautiful vacation. All the best and safe travel.