Why Georgia should be on your travel to-do list
31 August, 2015
Why Georgia should be on your travel to-do list
Theglobeandmail.com has published an article about why Georgia should be put on one’s travel list . Kat Tancock, the author of the article, shares her experiences gained during the trip through Georgia. Here we present you a few extracts from the article.
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“The cool, dim exhibit rooms of the Museum of Georgia are a welcome escape on this hot July afternoon. The first, the Archeological Treasury, is a series of cases filled with stunning millennia-old metalwork, such as bright-gold jewellery
from the famed kingdom of Colchis, one of the ancestors of modern Georgia.
The other, called the Soviet Occupation, is just as striking. The displays explain how the independent country of Georgia was invaded and brought into the Soviet fold in 1921.

Khachapuri is a traditional Georgian dish of cheese-filled bread. The filling contains cheese, eggs and other ingredients / KAT TANCOCK
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What we discover is diverse, spectacular landscapes; an easy-to-navigate country; a unique and delicious cuisine; and friendly locals eager to welcome a fresh crop of travellers from beyond the former communist realm.

The former capital city Mtskheta, Georgia / KAT TANCOCK
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Every day, we’re struck by the density and diversity of things to see and do here. One outing, for instance, covers the sixth-century hilltop Jvari (Cross) Monastery and nearby former capital city Mtskheta; the ornate 1950s Stalin Museum in his birthplace of Gori (complete with the train car he rode in to the Yalta conference); and the cave city of Uplistsikhe, hewn out of rock faces starting in at least the sixth century BC, which in its heyday was a trade centre along a major caravan route with about 20,000 inhabitants.

Centuries ago, the city of Uplistsikhe was a major caravan route and home to 20,000 people. / KAT TANCOCK

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On another excursion, we head north into the mountains along the Georgian Military Road, an ancient trade route that is now the only navigable highway into Russia. Cattle and sheep lazily graze on the emerald slopes; valleys slice between steep mountainsides, their tops brushing the clouds; on one hairpin turn, an improbable food shop huddles into the rocky face, a couple of parking spots across the road at the edge of a cliff.

We zigzag past houses and through meadows and forest before the rocky path turns steep and our breath turns fast, and then we’re there at 2,170 metres, watching cattle graze below the 14th-century church and its bell tower, appearing and disappearing behind strips of fast-moving cloud. Even taller mountains surround us, including Mount Kazbek, which at 5,047 metres is the third-highest peak in the country.

Looking into the valley and town of Stepantsminda from Sameba Church / KAT TANCOCK
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Not far away, the 20-metre-tall Mother Georgia statue looks out over the city, a cup of wine in one hand and a sword in the other, simultaneously welcoming guests and fending off enemies.

Georgian churches are conservative and, for the most part, require men to wear long pants and shirts with sleeves, while women must wear longer skirts and cover head and shoulders. Many churches supply wrap skirts to cover shorts and, on women, pants, but it’s best to come prepared with appropriate clothing.

The resort town of Borjomi is famous for its mineral-rich waters, which in their bottled form are the country’s leading export. In the midst of renewing its tourist infrastructure (a new Crown Plaza hotel is set to open this fall), the area is worth a visit for its spa facilities, its stunning natural setting and its 20th-century heritage
The high-mountain region of Svaneti is a world unto its own, even down to the unwritten, endangered Svan language, related to but quite different from standard Georgian. The towns and landscape are dotted with tall, square stone towers built in the ninth through 12th centuries as family fortifications; thousand-year-old churches are painted with frescoes and adorned with icons in the naive regional style. The Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography is a must-visit. Try to stay long enough to spend time on local trails, whether on foot, on bicycle or on horseback”, reads the article.

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