Category Republic of Georgia

Visiting the country of Georgia: advice for independent travelers and an attempt to answer the perennial question, is it safe?

Should you visit the Republic of Georgia?  Absolutely.  Can you travel independently in Georgia?  Yes, but only if you do your homework.  Focus your travel planning on transportation, finding great guest houses, and be prepared to respectfully appreciate Georgia’s religious culture. Transportation: Before I traveled in Georgia I was confused and intimidated by the transportation infrastructure.  From the outside […]

Transfiguration in Tbilisi

I can never resist a thrift store.  Walking through a thrift store door is an act of optimism, a confidence that a few minutes of digging through racks will unearth just what I didn’t know I was looking for but what I most desire.  It’s more than finding a treasure;  it’s an act of recognition, […]

The Gelati Monastery in Kutaisi and an incident in our hostel involving a certain husband imbibing too much wine

I almost missed seeing Gelati Monastery because of HOB’s hangover.  We’d arrived hungry in Kutaisi, Georgia, the night before and couldn’t find a well stocked grocery store.  This was not a problem as the restaurants were quite cheap.  We stopped in a decent looking place, and since I couldn’t read the Georgian menu, I ordered several […]

Ushguli: you will be astonished, you will be covered in mud

My hands tingled in Ushguli.  Technically, this was due to the altitude: Ushguli is said to be the highest permanently inhabited location in Europe.  Though these tingly fingers and my shortness of breath seemed more like symptoms of astonishment than of altitude sickness. Austere.  Astonishing! Ushguli is made up of four villages strung together in the mountains of the […]

Living an art history lover’s fantasy in Svaneti, Georgia

Over dinner at our guest house in Kashveti I asked our host Vaktang about the village church.  “We have an 11th century church with original frescos” he informed me, “but it’s closed to the public.”  Naturally, I was disappointed, but of course there were so many other wonderful sites in this UNESCO protected region of Georgia, […]

We tried to eat everything in Tbilisi

  “We want to eat street food!” we announced to Irakli, the host of our guest house in Tbilisi’s old town. “No, not street food” Irakli instructed.  “Instead you’ll eat fresh-cooked food from simple restaurants.”  It was more of a demand than advice, and since Irakli is a expert on making people happy in Tbilisi, we set out […]

Waylaid by a flock of sheep on the road to Jvari Monastery in Mtskheta

Church builders in Georgia must have all had the same thought process: “Hmmm, I think I’ll build a church.  Better put it in an impressive location.  How about here?  No, not dramatic enough.  Over there?  Well, nice, but still, does it scream ‘magestic’?  No, try again…….Ah, there it is, the perfect hill!  Everyone will bug their eyes […]

Folk music in Svaneti, Georgia

Imagine this: you’re stuffed with fresh home-cooking, toasting Saint George with potent local chacha (vodka).  There are charming children, a fire in a wood-burning stove and outside your temporary home it looks like this: You’re warm and comfortable but your hair is standing up. It’s the music. The music of Svaneti, a mountainous region of […]

How ancient jewelry inspired a fountain in Kutaisi, Georgia

We were sweating when we arrived at the enjoyably chaotic bus station in Kutaisi, still dressed in mountain weather-appropriate layers.  There are palm trees in Kutaisi and an almost tropical humidity, which explains the omnipresent  ice cream bars.  This is a city of ice cream bars—multiple coolers of ice cream bars on every block.  We’re not talking artisanal ice cream […]

An overnight train and a marshrutka from Tbilisi to Svaneti, Georgia: paper sheets and landslides

We’re in Svaneti, a region of Northwest Georgia full of cultural treasures.  Getting here was dramatic. First step: an overnight train from Tbilisi to Zugdidi.  This is the part of the trip that had stressed me out the most.  As it happened, the journey was uneventful, even pleasant.  We showed up at the Tbilisi train […]