Discover Georgia
Exclusive interview with 6 000 000th lucky tourist: Jesper Black on his ‘crazy’ Georgian adventure
13 March, 2017
An amazing video featuring a lucky tourist given VIP treatment and dinner with the Prime Minister of Georgia went viral on the internet. This unbelievable story has been viewed and shared by thousands of people both in Georgia and beyond its borders. Georgia prepared a special surprise to the 6 000 000th tourist who entered the country in 2016. The lucky guest turned out to be Jesper Black, a young journalist from the Netherlands, who loves traveling and capturing his journey
across the world. Upon coming to Georgia the travel enthusiast had no idea that the whole country was involved in the grand preparation to gift him with unforgettable experience in Georgia. As soon as the video featuring his arrival conquered the whole social media, we found Jesper on Facebook and contacted him. To my surprise, he responded and shared his amazing story and crazy adventure with us:

-I grew up in the Netherlands and then moved to Spain, Barcelona, a year and half ago. I have been trained as a journalist. I love to write, I love to make videos and to travel, actually these are two my biggest passions- traveling and creating, whether it is music, writing or making videos. I have seen so much of the world already. In the past six months I have seen four continents, it has been a crazy ride, but a crazy good ride, it is what I live for. I decided not to spend my money on the latest phone or latest laptop, but instead as soon as I have money, I buy tickets and get out of the country.

I started my travel blog a couple of months ago, because I travel so much I don’t want to have all these stories get lost. When you travel, you meet many people, you see all these beautiful things, you experience all these amazing stories, so I kind of wanted to have a place where I would gather them would keep them. The same with the stories, so I would write daily stories about what happens on my travels. So six months ago I decided to change it. I like changes; because when I get too little comfortable I need a change. Consequently, I decided to move from the writing to videomaking. So this is what I have been trying to do over the past six months.

Check out Jesper's YouTube Channel

- How did you find about Georgia?

- About three years ago, when I lived in Holland, I did some stuff for the international student organization, I showed the students around. I showed them best places, the best restaurants, the places to go ports. So one among this group of intentional students was Georgian girl Ninutsa, she came to Holland to study for six months, and we became friends. She invited me for her wedding two years ago, but I missed that out. Then she invited me again several times, but it kind of never happened and then finally, we decided to make it happen. I was going to stay with her and her husband, they were supposed to pick me from the airport and instead all these happened. I saw this guy with the piece of paper with my name on it, not my Facebook name, but my real name. I thought to myself, somebody who knows my real name, it is probably Ninutsa who arranged it. So I followed this guy and got into the car. I don’t know how they arranged these entire police thing and the billboard. They drove me around the city and we went up to the mountain (Mtatsminda). So I finally saw my friend for the first time, when the Prime Minister left and when everything was over. I think they must have picked her from the airport as well and made sure she did not ruin the surprise and what they have planned.
Jesper and Ninutsa in Georgia

- What was it like when you were being escorted? What did you think at first?

- I could not believe it. It was a little strange, because the guy who picked me up from the airport, he did not say anything. So I was little taken back and couple of minutes later, the whole police escort started to appear and I just kept thinking to my head what was going on. I had no idea what was going on, all I knew was that my friend was going to pick me up and she did not, instead I was in the car with all these policemen. In the beginning I was little nervous, but as soon as got the message, they sent me a little note, I calmed down, and when I saw the police escort appeared as well, then I understood that nothing bad will happen. But all I kept thinking was, who is Ninutsa, like is  she the daughter of somebody super important or is her husband the chief of police, or what was going on? I knew I was on television because I saw all these cameras pointed towards me, but I just kept thinking it was Ninutsa, even up until the moment with the Prime Minister, when he shook my hand and said that I am the 6000000th tourist, but I was so confused that it did not register in my head. To be honest, I even did not know who the Prime Minister of Georgia was, but I did not think that someone was joking, because there was whole scenario and it was very official. So there was even no illusion that they were joking. The funniest part was that I was so hungry, I had one sandwich during the entire day, and in the beginning there was winetasting and there was a nice table with cheese and sausages, nuts and everything and I was like I could eat all of these. But I was standing next to the Prime Minister and in the center of attention, so just took a sample, but in the meantime I could not think about anything else except for eating all these food. But During my stay here, we were to so many restaurants over the week, and every time we went to the restaurant there was a table full of food, was it lunchtime or dinner, it does not matter, and then finally when you are done ,when you are full, another three four dishes showed up. I think I gained some weight when I was there.
Dinner with Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili

-It is interesting, what did you talk about with the Prime Minister of Georgia?

-We talked about, his family, we talked about my brothers. Every year my brothers and I meet up somewhere. Last year it was in the UK, this year it will be in Barcelona. When we meet up we drink bear, eat meat, watch movies, and do manly kind of things. So we are planning to do such kind of thing in Georgia some time. We also talked a little bit about Barcelona; I think the next day Mr. Prime Minister was going to Madrid for some sort of conference. So it was a little strange, with all these cameras pointed towards you, when you are not used to it. It is very strange to be put in the situation like that straight from the airport, while you are super hungry and put all these delicious food in front of you. Upon taking one bite, they would take it away and bring another dish. (he laughs)

-What can you say about Georgian cuisine? Could you single out your favorite dishes?

-I tried a lot of things. My favorite dish is the eggplant with walnut filling (Nigvziani badrijani), that is incredible, I could eat it all day, every day for the rest of my life and never get bored. I love Khinkali as well, which is tricky to eat, but I got better at it. I am also big fan of Khachapuri (Georgian cheese bread), and I also have a love-hate relationship with chacha (Georgian grappa). When I drank it, I had a hangover the very next day and the producers kept saying “take another shot of chacha and you will feel better”. You also have beautiful wines, I love the taste. Apart from winetasting with the prime minister, I also had winetasting in Kakheti (Georgia’s eastern part famous for wine culture). So I am a big fan of wine, you have very tasty wine and also the process of making wine is very unique, never seen anywhere else.

-Tell us about your journey throughout Georgia. Which places did you visit?

-I spent two days in Tbilisi. Next day we went to Batumi by train, which was amazing. I loved the train ride, the new train from Tbilisi to Batumi. I enjoyed the train journey, very very beautiful landscapes, and mountains. I am from Holland, we don’t have any mountains, so if you show me a little hill, I get super excited. We stayed in Batumi overnight and the next day we drove to Goderdzi ski resort, it was very impressive, very nice and from there we went to Kakheti. In Kakheti we visited Lopota and from there went back to Tbilisi. In total I spent 6-7 days in Georgia. During my trip I was accompanied by the production crew, all these people are super wonderful, these are friends for life. Actually I saw my friend Ninutsa very little, just two or three days. I spent rest of the time with the production team and Makho, the photographer, so we experienced all these together and we have a very special relationship. It was a really crazy adventure.

-What do you like most about Georgia?

-I liked everything, to be honest. I travel a lot, I have been to many countries, and Georgia is a very special country to me, not because what happened, but because it is incredibly beautiful, the nature is wild. I am used to a very small country, where we have a lot of people, so we don’t a lot of nature, we have no mountains. So in contrast with that, Georgia has such a big and strong nature, that is really incredible. And the other thing is the attitude of the people, the people are just lovely. All these people have such a warm heart and everywhere where we went, everyone opened doors for us and invited for the drink and offered food. It was a super warm welcome, aside from the Prime Minister, that was fun, but the real country is just as warm.
-Share your future plans? Are you planning to visit Georgia again?

-Well, I have to visit Georgia again. I just can’t abstain from coming again, it is I have to and I want to. I think I will come in summer, or maybe a little earlier. Right now I am very open to change, I don’t have any big roots anywhere. I love living in Barcelona, it is wonderful here, but who knows, it might be fun to come to Georgia for a year or maybe half a year, to live there for a while if I find an interesting job. As I said, I am a journalist and I make videos. So if there is an offer on the table, then I will be definitely very open towards that. I am open to new possibilities. I have made videos on Georgia as well, so anyone can see it on my YouTube channel.

-What would you tell those people who have not been to Georgia yet?

-I kind of want to keep Georgia only for myself; I kind of don’t want to anybody go there. It is a little egoistic (he laughs), but no, I think anybody should pay a visit to it. It is a very very special place. It is unlike anything I have ever seen, and it is so beautiful, the people are beautiful, both inside and outside. It is a really warm country and a truly spectacular place. I think anybody who considers going there should stop thinking and just buy the tickets.

Author: Lika Chigladze

Photo courtesy of Makho Kipshidze

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