Arriving in Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, is a surprising experience. People most definitely look very different compared to Central Asia. Certainly a lot more European but not totally either. I was for example immediately identified as a tourist and locals spoke to me in English before I even said a word… Georgians speak very differently too! The language is totally unrelated to any other language and has its own unique and beautiful alphabet.
Describing Georgian people really is no easy task. They compare themselves to Italians because they are proud and expressive. Still that didn’t convince me. The only way to get a better idea is to visit the country yourself, something I’m recommending to everyone since I left the country. Because in my opinion, Georgia is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by travellers.
First of all the history of the country is captivating. Georgia is the second country on earth to have adopted Christianity as a state religion in the 4th century. Some remarkably well preserved churches still date from that period and are a joy to visit. Religion in Georgia is still very much alive too. Listening to polyphonic Georgian songs in an extremely old church located high on top of a hill surrounded by the mighty Caucasian peaks is just magic.
The Caucasus mountain range is another highlight in Georgia. Higher than any other mountains in Europe, with several peaks above 5000 m, they have seen little commercial development. In the Svaneti region the wild forests dotted with old ruins of watchtowers overlooking the scenic valleys are a joy to trek through.
Lastly, Georgian hospitality is beyond anything you could imagine. In the countryside it is difficult not to be invited by Georgians to share a a never-ending meal, always accompanied by countless toasts of a home brewed liquor called Chacha. These traditional meals are called supra and have very specific rules and usually last for a very very long time. As I was hitchhiking in the Svaneti region, the driver and his friends stopped twice: once for a meal and the other time for drinks… It took me seven hours to cover the 30kms!
Go to the photo gallery for more pictures of Georgia.