Georgia is located between the continents of Asia and Europe. Dubbed as the “Balcony to Europe”.
This country is another Eurasian country like Turkey where it links the 2 continents. It was my first ever backpacking trip so I am happy to share with you my Georgia travel guide.
It was late September and heat in the middle east was at peak. To escape the summer heat, I booked a flight from Kuwait to Tbilisi transiting Doha. It was Autumn so the weather was just right. Not too hot nor too cold. Tbilisi airport was just a small airport. I did not have a hard time finding my way out through the airport.
I exchanged a few US dollars to Georgian Lari. Exchange rate at that time was 1 USD to 2.62 GEL (24/09/2018). The exchange rate from the airport and city center does not differ much. I purchased my Georgian sim card which cost 35 GEL topped with 100 minutes of call time and 5 GB data enough for a week of travel.
For me traveling around Georgia will not cost you a lot.
The taxi from the airport cost 35 GEL. You can use the public bus too for only 50 Tetri or 0.020 USD. In my case I opted to use the bus since I had my layover in Doha causing me to feel tired.
You have a variety of accommodation choices.
From big hotels like Marriott and Radisson Blu to Airbnbs and hostels. If you are having a hard time choosing a place to stay, websites like Tripadvisor and Agoda will help you a lot. I booked my hostel with Agoda because they had irresistible deals. I stayed in Tbilisi Art Gate Hostel which was amazing. You can see their reviews here and book for yourself to experience it too.
The way to the hostel was quick. It was my first time to sit in the car with a right hand driver which confused me a bit because they got both. I was greeted by my host upon reaching the hostel. Gave me a quick tour and offered me a shot of Vodka. Yes that’s how hospitable Georgians were. But I refused as I just wanted to rest and save my energy for the next day.
Time to meet fellow travelers.
I woke up full of energy the following day. I had booked to join a group tour in Kazbegi which is located in Stepantsminda town. The tour cost was 20 USD + 10 USD for the dinner. I highly recommend joining this tour. I found Bella, the organizer, on couch surfing. She was very responsive and helpful and if you want to reach her you can drop her a message on her Instagram @T-ravity travel.
Our meeting place was at the Bicycle statue in Roses Revolutionary square which was 20mins walk from my place. We stopped at a nearby market to buy some stuff and have breakfast.
Orthodox Christian Cathedral
Our first destination was Mtskheta Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. This is recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site. All round the centuries this has been a grave site for the kings therefore you can observe the holiness of the place. I think there was an actual mass when we were there.
We then moved on to the next place, Zhinvali dam. This hydroelectric dam in the Caucasus mountain was built in 1986. You can feel your closeness to nature at the same time the view was awesome.
This castle complex was the seat of the Duke of Aragvi. Another potential candidate to be included in UNESCO’s world heritage site. You should prepare your feet by climbing stairs. Next to the fortress you will see the Aragvi river
Russia-Georgia Friendship Monument
On this site you will see the Gudauri Panorama. This monument was built to celebrate the friendship between Soviet Georgia and Soviet Russia. It is overlooking the devil’s valley wherein you will have a breathtaking view of the Caucasus mountain. You can do paragliding or just stroll along some stalls selling Georgian delicacies and souvenirs.
Holy Trinity Church
We then spent another 30 minute drive to Kazbegi. In order for us to see the highlight of this Georgia travel guide the Gergeti Trinity church. It was on a mountain top. That is to say you have the option to go by a 4 wheel drive or 2 hour trekking. Our group decided to do the latter. Our guide Bella was left behind so she can prepare our traditional Georgian dinner.
It was a tiring climb but with the laughter filled trek with strangers the climb has been worth it. The church was built in the 14th century at an elevation of 2170 meters under mount Kazbek.
Rewarding dinner for the group
It was already around 7pm when we reached the foot of the town. Bella, who had prepared the tasty dinner, did not fail to satisfy our hunger. The dinner was a never ending flow of food. From traditional bread, homemade cheese, fresh salad and vegetables, meatballs, pasta, desert, free flowing of coffee and tea.
We decided to go back to Tbilisi and reached the city at 23:00. Solo traveling was fun. In this Georgia travel guide I made new friends, shared experiences and learned to be confident.