Places We Love: Georgia (the Country, Not the State)

Georgia

One visit will stay with you forever.

Getting to Georgia

Flights to Tbilisi from the United States require a layover (unless your flying a PJ!)  So we love planning our layovers in Munich where you can get a gym / spa pass at the Kempinski Airport  Hotel and enjoy the pool, sauna, gym, and delicious meals while waiting. You’ll feel rested, which is good considering most flights land in Tbilisi around 4am.

If you are awake when you arrive in TBS, book a private room at the historic Gulos bathhouse. This has become our ritual. The kids love it. From there, press through till at least 8pm and you’ll be well on your way recovering from jet lag.

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Our Recommendations-

Book a guide through Wild Georgia. I have to admit that it’s operated by my best friend so I am partial, but I guarantee there isn’t a better / more captivating guide in Georgia.

Tbilisi

Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital city is a vibrant mix of 4th century architecture and modern wonders. The city’s name means hot, or healing waters, so there are plenty of bathhouses and natural hot springs. Throughout history, Tbilisi has been destroyed and re-built twenty seven times, leaving stories of tragedy and survival in every corner.

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Stay: The luxurious Tbilisi Marriot, or the stylish Rooms Hotel Tbilisi (pictured)

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Eat: Tsiskvili

Play: Gulos Bath House, Spa, and Hot Spring. Grishashvili 5, Tbilisi, Georgia

See: Georgian National Museum. Shota Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi, Georgia +995 322 99 80 22 Be sure to see the stunning Ancient Jewelry exhibit, and the sobering Soviet Occupation room.

Shop: Wander around and enjoy the shops and charming restaurants in Old Town Tbilisi. Be sure to stop by the rug shops! Vibrant kiln rugs can easily be folded and brought home in your suitcase. If you are up for an adventure, visit the “dry bridge” where locals sell everything under the sun. Bring cash!

Art: Visit our friend and famous painter, Berdia Geliashvili. My husband and I collect his pieces, one hangs in almost every room of our house.

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Kakheti Wine Region

The best way I can describe Kakheti, is Napa Valley with donkey carts instead of BMW’s. Every family here has their own small vineyard, all with the backdrop of the beautiful Caucus mountains. There have been several larger vineyards opening, as the secret is out to the international wine community. This region is changing rapidly, so get there fast!

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Stay: Chatau Mare. Vardisubani Street 15, Stantsiya Telavi 0145, Georgia +995 595 99 03 99

Eat and Drink: Chatau Mare and drink Kisi wine from Danieli Winery

Play: Ride a horse or take a donkey cart ride through one of the many vineyards.

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See: The ancient monasteries.  Alaverdi Monastery, Gremi monastery, and Nekresi monastery are our favorites. If you happen to be there during a traditional horse race, you must see one hosted by Danieli Winery!

Shop: One of the road-side stands selling watermelons, clay dishes, Shepard hats, and bread. Or take a drive to Telavi and experience the market there!

Tusheti

Many of the Georgian folk songs and poems are about Tusheti. This high mountain series of villages was completely isolated until the 1970’s when the Soviets built a road to it. It is classified as a UNESCO world heritage site / living museum, and is truly a peak into the past. Check out the book Bread and Ashes to get a better understanding of the area.

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Getting there: Don’t drive yourself. The road to Tusheti is considered on of the world’s most dangerous roads. Hire a driver (it takes 3-4 hrs from Kakheti) they know the drive like the back of their hand. If you are susceptible to car sickness, take a helicopter! The views are stunning.

 

Stay: Darejan’s Guesthouse (Book through Wild Georgia) in Sheniko. Darejan (the owner) is known as the Georgian Professor of Love.

Eat: Tusheti is so remote it doesn’t have many restaurants outside of the guesthouses. Just eat where you stay, and if you’re lucky you’ll be invited to a Supra. In Tusheti these feasts typically consist of local goat meat, homemade wine and cha-cha, and a selection of vegetable side dishes with fresh baked bread.

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Play: Hire horses though Wild Georgia and ride from village to village.

Shop: Be sure to support the locals by buying a pair of these amazing slippers, eating in the guesthouses, and buying food and services from the people who live there.

Signagi

Sighnaghi’s economy is dominated by production of wine and traditional carpets. This town is probably the best base for exploring the region on daily trips. You can follow the road from Sighnaghi to Telavi via Gurjaani visiting wineries on the way, escape for a day to Kvareli lake resort or Lagodekhi National park, go visit Davit Gareja monasteries on Azerbaijan border.

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Stay: Hotel Kabadoni – 1 Tamar Mepe Str., Sighnaghi 4200, Georgia

Eat: Pheasant’s Tears Restaurant, Wine Bar, and Fine Art, (close to Populi, on the road to Tbilisi). While you’re there, enjoy the stunning artwork of owner and master painter, Jonathan Wurdeman. English friendly! Address: Baratashvili St. #18, Signagi, Georgia 

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See: The Knitting Ladies, (On the cobblestone road toward Tsnori). In a small section of Sighnaghi, several ladies offer a picturesque array of knitted goods for sale for astoundingly cheap prices. Here you cay buy Georgian socks with traditional patterns and local wool, hats, scarves, slippers, and baby booties. 1-20 gel.

XVIII century Sighnaghi town wall. Sighnaghi’s fortifying wall is one of the biggest in Georgia, its area occupies 40 hectares. A small section of the wall has been restored for tourism. You can enter this portion through the tower at the gate on the road to Sakobo/Tsnori where there is also a restaurant.

Shop: Fine art at Pheasent’s Tears, or Sunday market in Bodbiskhevi. The largest market in the region, Bodbiskhevi offers the traditional Soviet Sunday market day experience. At Bodbiskhevi market the prices and variety of goods are unmatched, selling such things as fresh produce, meats, cheeses, crafts, clothes, livestock, and house and farm goods.

Kazbegi (Stepantsminda)

This northern village is popular for the trekking opportunities in the visually spectacular surrounding mountains, its views of the mighty Mount Kazbek, and for the beautiful view from the town of the Holy Trinity Church outlined against Mount Kazbek itself. Located on the Georgian Military Highway, the town is 10km south of the border with Russia. This is a great place to stay for a while if you are interested in nature.

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Stay: The Rooms Hotel (view from the deck above!) It’s insanely stylish. Prepare to be inspired.

Play: At the ski resort Gudauri, or on one of the many beautiful hikes.

Eat: The Rooms Hotel

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Five Facts about Georgia

  • Georgian is one of the oldest written languages. Despite numerous invasions throughout history, Georgia has maintained its own language and alphabet.
  • Screenshot 2016-03-21 12.51.50The capitol of Georgia is Tbilisi. Founded in the 5th century, the name implies warm waters. Tbilisi is famous for its beautiful bathhouses.

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  • Georgia is believed to be the birthplace of wine.
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  • There are villages in Georgia that are older than Machhu Pichu, and still inhabited today!

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Please email us if you have additional tips on visiting Georgia! If you’d like more info on booking or becoming a travel nanny, contact us!