Do you know where Georgia is? No, not the state…. Georgia is tucked into a weird place on the globe, stuck between Russia (their former Soviet master that they now fear will is on the hunt again) and Armenia (their relatively close cultural relatives), and it’s not really a country many people know much about. Searching for tips online even proves hard, overshadowed by its US googleganger–which we’ve never been to but promise it pales in comparison.
Georgia is a country full of small towns that teeter between “quaint Old World” and “Soviet relic” vibe, and some of the even smaller villages–backed by fairytale landscapes–look frozen in time. Boasting their own unique brand of East-meets-West, it feels familiar and mysterious at the same time—like the perfect woman… or something like that. We thought Georgia was awesome, so here’s six reasons why you should make it your next budget adventure destination!
1. The wine
If you’ve never drank wine that was made in a clay pot out of a clay bowl, you’ve gotta get to Georgia. The winemaking tradition of the Georgians is registered as a UNESCO “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”, and it’s an ancient practice that produces truly unique wines unlike what we’re used to drinking in Europe. For those that aren’t huge wine connoisseurs, Georgian wine is stronger, drier, and most people make that shit at home. BAM!
2. The chacha
Homemade spirits are always going to make our lists, and Georgians love it so much some of them even thought to make a fountain that gives it out for free (yet to be verified, but it’s the thought that counts).
3. The kinkhali
Who doesn’t love dumplings? These kids are BIG, filled with delicious juice, and come in a variety of meaty, cheesy and veggie fillings. They’re a bit rough-and-tumble compared to more dainty pierogi or manti, but they come with an awesome doughy stem that you can either use as a handle and leave behind or douse in sour cream and devour.
Actually, all the Georgian food we tried was awesome, from khachapuri boats to badrijani to lobio to all the stuff that we can’t remember the name of. There isn’t a huge variety of dishes in Georgian cuisine (compared to some other countries) which can get a bit boring but makes it much easier when ordering at a restaurant (BONUS TIP).
4. There are animals everywhere
It’s an animal bonanza, with all the dogs, cats, sheep, pigs, cows, horses, donkeys and chickens roaming around, usually in the middle of the road. They can become a hazard for drivers, but we had loads of fun feeding them our leftover Trabzon ekmek from Turkey.
5. There’s bizarre and futuristic architecture
Nestled in dilapidated cities and downtrodden towns, along some of the worst roads you’ll ever see lurk some of the strangest architectural works built since the fall of the Soviet Union. Georgia’s former president, Mikheil Saakashvili, invested a lot of effort (and money) into commissioning and constructing gleaming, modern and experimental structures that were probably meant to inspire, but instead infuriated people who saw their money being wasted in this still relatively developing country. But as tourists we can just look and enjoy their weirdness.
6. It’s a fun and easy driving adventure
Georgia is rough around the edges. Aforementioned shitty roads and incomprehensible signage make every new turn through the countryside into a great story for later. When you’re not on the look-out for police, people pretending to be police, flocks of animals in the road, or potholes, it’s probably because you’re actually out back trying to push your car (or an unfortunate marshrutka) out of whatever ditch managed to gobble it up.
Bonus Georgia snaps