Begin Fasting Today, and Feast in Georgia as Soon as Possible “I Love You From Batumi to Sighnaghi and Back”
05 December, 2015
Begin Fasting Today, and Feast in Georgia as Soon as Possible “I Love You From Batumi to Sighnaghi and Back”
I came to Georgia for the first time in late January 2014. Glad to escape the -20°C and four hours of light per day in St. Petersburg, where I had studied the previous six months, I was eager to start my internship at the South Caucasus Office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Tbilisi.
geotv.ge
Sonja Schiffers

Having worked on the topic of the EU response to the Rose Revolution previously and following Georgia’s transformation from afar, I already had some expectations regarding the so-called “Pearl of the Caucasus.” And while I somehow felt the urge to disprove the cliché that all foreigners fall in love with Georgia, I simply couldn’t help it. Not knowing that I would return soon, I travelled as much as I could, often solo, which was a wonderful experience. In just under three months I went to Gudauri, Kazbegi, Gori, Vardzia, Akhaltsikhe, Bakuriani, Borjomi, Kakheti, David Gareji, Kutaissi, Batumi, and even to Baku and northern Armenia, taking countless photographs of beautiful landscapes, ancient cultural heritage sites, traditional wooden architecture, and Soviet relicts. Of course I also photographed Georgian food, which I particularly fell in love with.
geotv.ge
Gudauri
The comparably unpleasant notion of having to complete my studies made me leave Tbilisi, only to come back in the summer of 2015 and experience those famous goose bumps for the first time when seeing the sparkling Tbilisi TV broadcast tower upon returning to the city. I came for a research project on the topic of international humanitarian and development assistance in Abkhazia, where I stayed for two weeks. I could not confirm the concerns of some of my Georgian friends, who had told me that the Abkhaz might not be as hospitable as the Georgians. I failed to find any differences between mamaliga and corn ghomi, or Georgian adjika and Abkhaz adjika. Also, I finally managed to visit Svaneti, which I found mind-blowing – especially horseback riding in the mountains, enjoying the incredible views of the Svanetian towers, and gazing at the golden treasures of the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography.
geotv.ge
Only one month later I would again return to Georgia, this time for (only) private reasons, and enjoy a week of true Georgian hospitality in Tbilisi, including, obviously, feasting on good food and wine. That food probably saved me when we went to Tusheti, a remote
mountain region, in late August, naively without warm clothing – it was still summer, wasn’t it? The road to Tusheti is considered to be one of the most dangerous in the world, and it only reopened on the day we went there. It had been closed due to heavy rain and landslides. In contrast to Svaneti, Tusheti has very limited tourism infrastructure, so I gladly relied on the skills of my Georgian companion, who fixed the details of our trip in only 43 phone calls (amongst others to his cousin, the cousin of his cousin, and the cousin of the cousin of his cousin).
geotv.ge
Tbilisi

geotv.ge
Sokhumi
Almost completely bereft of electricity and cell phone reception, we spent three wonderful days in the mountains. After three days I was almost able to distinguish between the chickens of the family that ran our guesthouse, which were constantly mingling around us. Luckily for us, the host family had to organize a supra – that is, a huge Georgian dining event with masses of food – for the whole village on the occasion of Mariamoba (one of the most important religious holidays). We kept our bodies warm with homemade chacha, wine, khinkali and other delicacies, and our hearts with the wonderful melodies of a girl who sang and played traditional songs on the Panduri.
geotv.ge
Having dealt with Georgian politics and society academically for a few years now, I know about the many rocks in the road to democratic transformation as well as the numerous everyday difficulties that the majority of the population faces. I sincerely hope improvement will come soon. And to my fellow non-Georgians, I recommend you start fasting today, and come feast in Georgia as soon as possible. I’ll close it with the words of a true master, the great John Steinbeck, who visited and admired this then-Soviet republic back in the 1950s:

“It is a magical place, Georgia, and it becomes dream-like the moment you have left it. And the people are magic people. It is true that they have one of the richest and most beautiful countries in the world, and they live up to it. And we understood thoroughly now why Russians had always said to us, ‘Until you have seen Georgia, you have seen nothing.’”

November 26, 2015

Author: Sonja Schiffers

Related stories:

Meet Dariko, the Ukrainian Blogger who Fell in Love with Georgia

Awesome Places To Explore in Georgia
Print
Other Stories
VOGUE: A Visit to Batumi—Georgia’s Most Charming Seaside Town
Georgia's beautiful and sunny seaside city of Batumi has been featured on VOGUE.
Wall Street Journal and National Geographic to Make Film about Georgia’s Ushguli
Media outlets, the Wall Street Journal and National Geographic, are to make a short film about Georgia’s mountainous village Ushguli in the Upper Svaneti region.
Why one L.A. wine expert has Georgia on his mind. The country, that is…
"Where wine is concerned, Taylor Parsons is almost never gobsmacked.
Cost of Georgia’s top travel destinations for spring
Spring in Georgia is a beautiful time of the year. Many of us are already wishing they were somewhere, taking a rest from noisy streets.
Tbilisi, Georgia: No Longer Europe’s Best-Kept-Secret Destination – The Wall Street Journal
"Not long ago, few Western travelers ventured to Georgia, a former Soviet republic. Now its newly polished capital city, Tbilisi,
 VOGUE: 5 Reasons to Explore the Mountains of Georgia
VOGUE reveals 5 reasons why you should explore the mountains of Georgia. Here is what the article says:
Three Georgian monasteries where some of the best wines are made
In Georgia, the tradition of making wines at monasteries dates back to the ancient times
Abkhazia’s mimosa tree among 14 strikingly beautiful trees around the world
Mimosa tree from Georgia’s Abkhazia seaside region has been listed among 14 strikingly beautiful trees around the globe.
Svaneti among must see spots for those obsessed with zombies – National Geographic
National Geographic has published the list of 6 places throughout the world where those who are captivated by zombie theme might be interested in traveling.
Foreign traveling couple’s journey in the Cable Car City of Georgia
A couple of hitchhikers from Belgium and Canada who enjoy traveling and exploring new places across the world have paid visit to Georgia’s Cable Car City of Chiatura,
The Times urges travelers to 'Book a Trip to Tbilisi'
Georgia is, undoubtedly, becoming more and more popular for tourists world-wide, with an increasing number of flights flying into our three international airports.
Tvishi – Semi-sweet wine from Lechkhumi with the taste you will never forget
Tvishi is an appellation of origin and this wine is made of Tsolikouri grapes, making it one of the most distinctive Georgian white semi-sweet wines.
Extraordinary container hotel built in Gudauri, Georgia
Forget a cosy chalet, these days to be down with the kids you should be spending your ski holiday in a shipping container
“Discover Tbilisi” - Trams inviting tourists to Georgia in Switzerland
In the city of Basel, Switzerland, advertising banners depicting the capital of Georgia Tbilisi is to be seen on the tramways.
Interesting facts about Kakhetian wines
Georgian winemaking is unimaginable without its easternmost region of Kakheti.
Georgian building among 13 most bizarre Soviet-era constructions
Georgian brutalist building of the Ministry of Highways has been named among the most amazing buildings constructed by Soviet architects by Business Insider.
 Guess Georgia’s famous sites – Creative puzzle by Georgian designer
Perhaps everyone has seen various puzzles about guessing the names of the world famous cities.
Khvantchkara – Extraordinary Georgian wine produced since 1870s in Racha
Viticulture and winemaking is one of the oldest fields in all the Georgian regions and Racha is no exception.
Kakheti among CNN’s 11 great wine regions you've probably never heard of
Burgundy, Napa Valley, Marlborough, Tuscany -- true wine fans have probably already ticked the great grape regions off their lists.
12 Stunning Photos That Will Make You Visit Georgia This Summer
If you have not visited Georgia yet and wonder why you should put it on your travel list, then check out these 12 photos provided by Dubaiofw.com.
Climbing in the Caucasus: postcard views from the towers of Ushguli, Georgia – The Guardian
“The people of Ushguli live among some of the highest continuously inhabited villages in Europe and the Unesco-listed Upper Svaneti region’s
Soviet-time labels of Georgian wines
There was a time, when the wines were not labeled at all and the first etiquettes were used somewhere in the 18th century.
A trip to winter Svaneti: Medieval castles meet modern ski resort
Svaneti, Georgia’s historical highland, is a popular destination among tourists during summer season,
First digital wine guide in Georgia: Cellars, hotels and restaurants on one map
By the initiative of Georgian Wine Association, the first wine tourism guide equipped with QR codes navigation system was created.
3000-year-old discovery in Gurjaani village
The village of Gurjaani, Kakheti region has experienced a unique discovery.
750ml
Red Dry
Gwine  / 2015
27.00
750ml
Red Dry
Baqar Narsia's wine Cellar  / 2015
22.50
750ml
Red Dry
Lukasi  / 2013
38.40
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Other Stories
French architectural photographer Aurélien Villette has been traveling to different countries for years in order to document how architecture manifests cultural change.
Along with the development of tourism in Georgia, the number of high-class hotels is increasing.
Josko Gravner is an Italian winemaker, who discovered the Georgian traditional technology many years ago and has been using it since then.
A Georgian couple, who travels to the different regions of Georgia, has shared many adventures and interesting stories with us.
An amazing video featuring a lucky tourist given VIP treatment and dinner with the Prime Minister of Georgia went viral on the internet.
Georgia prepared a special surprise to the 6 000 000th tourist who entered the country in 2016.
Dirk Wagener, a German photographer, outdoorer, skier, and a journalist, along with his team of photographers and filmers are always in a search for the best places
Yet another amazing video of snow-covered Georgia’s landscape has emerged on the internet.
Yet another video featuring fascinating Sabaduri Forest located near Tbilisi has emerged on the internet.
Business Insider UK published an incredible footage shot in Georgia.
GEL Exchange
USD
1
USD
2.4217
EUR
1
EUR
2.7084
GBP
1
GBP
3.1446
RUB
100
RUB
4.2722