Hi! I’m Ashley. I lived in Tbilisi, Georgia (საქართველო in Georgian) for a year, teaching English to bureaucrats and police officers, as well as editing a local English-language newspaper and doing some freelance English styling. I miss it a lot, and will always feel a unique closeness to the country and its people.
Must Go in Georgia
The beautiful capital, an architectural journey through Georgia’s history as the oft-conquered crossroads between Europe and Asia. See Persian, Ottoman, and Soviet influences and watch as modern, all-glass buildings rise with Georgia’s economic fortunes. Tbilisi is a great home base for tourists, as there are lots of English-speakers to help ease you into this new country.
From here you can catch a train or marshutka bus to anywhere in Georgia (and beyond – Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iran), as well as arrange day trips to the snowy mountains, grassy plateaus, influential archaeological sites, and historic churches that dot the countryside.
Miami on the Black Sea. Swimming, partying, gambling, and the wildest public art are all on display in this rapidly changing port city. Long a favourite resort town for the Soviet elite, it’s now the holiday spot for all Georgians, and where Western artists like Enrique Iglesias come to perform (he’s inexplicably popular here!).
It’s a bit of a trek to Svaneti, the mountainous northern region, but it’s well worth the journey. It’s up here that Georgia really shows its glory – hiking, horseback riding, skiing, and breathtaking views. Take a long, bumpy marshrutka ride cross-country (or a short flight with a couple of Canadian pilots) – every Georgian I’ve met swears this region is the best in the country.
Must Do in Georgia
Georgia has been identified as having “untapped” ski resources, and is updating its infrastructure to attract ski enthusiasts from Europe and beyond. The mountains here are spectacular and extreme sports like heli-skiing are becoming more popular – plus, it’s a lot cheaper than Switzerland!
You can’t help but do a ton of hiking in Georgia – there are opportunities everywhere, for every skill level, and in places barely touched by tourists. Pack a bag with lobiani (bread stuffed with mashed beans) and revel in the quiet, natural beauty or explore the cave cities and ancient monasteries.
Ride a marshrutka!
Terrifying, overstuffed little Soviet vans that are still the best way to get around. Flag down the vehicle you want (anywhere, there are no set stops), and then yell “gaacheret!” or “gamecheret!” when you want to get off. Imagine how accomplished you’ll feel when you master a route and make it your own!
Must Eat in Georgia
Hearty soup dumplings. Usually filled with meat and broth, you dust them with pepper, hold the stem, and bite – but make sure you don’t spill the hot broth! Men are expected to eat huge piles of khinkali; I tap out at about three.
A variety of breads stuffed with cheese (so, the perfect food). My favourite comes from the region of Adjara – it has an open top, with a raw egg and butter that gets stirred into the cheese immediately upon arrival at your table.
Georgia “ketchup”, a lightly spiced tomato sauce that gets smothered on everything from fried potatoes to pasta.
Cultural Tips for Travel in Georgia
Georgians are famed for their hospitality – so don’t be shy! Most Georgians are very interested in foreigners, so may ask you to join them for a drink, invite you to their table, or even into their homes. As long as you feel comfortable, accept!