I have heard that Georgians differ by their hospitality and unique drinking habits. Despite all the rumours, this one is absolute truth.
Georgians aren’t like other Europeans - not as shy, but also not like Russians - more polite and helpful.
Do you remember that feeling when you are on your vacation somewhere … let say Turkey, and you can not get rid of these annoying sellers who see you only as a bag of money? Here you can relax. Even the most irritated seller will try at most once, but if he sees that you need help, he will be more than happy to forget about bargaining and will give all his time to help you.
One time this happened to me. I was walking by one of the tourist guide’s car and asked him some questions about the tours he provided. I wasn’t planning to get any as I like exploring the paths by my own route. The guide offered me to show the nearest Dunkin Donuts (what I was looking for), and then he made a tour of Old Tbilisi… for free! And he actually laughed when I asked how much would it cost for me. “Enjoy my country. You will love it” and he said no wrong. Surprisingly, I met a lot of people who were doing favours for free, offering complimentary food and drinks and calling me “sister” by inviting to their houses. It seemed like people were much closer, like one big society and somehow related to one another.
Tbilisi has antique architecture with beautiful orthodox churches. Its streets filled with ancient building, natural waterfalls and sulfur baths :) For me, it was surprising how different each corner Is. I advice you to visit the sulfur baths and to book it a day in advance ( you will get a cheaper deal). The baths are very hot which will relax you after a long busy day :)
The puppet theatre is my favourite (but the tickets are usually sold a month in advance). The entrance building is decorated with a big antique clock, from which everyday at 9 pm the clock bird exits and chirps directed by the long spring that pushes it back in. Nearby, you can find a magnificent cafe Leila that serves Georgian & European food with antique and elegant design and Turkish styled sofas with lots of comfy pillows. The prices are cheap and the food is delicious. Additionally, their coconut coffee is a must-try :)
Georgian military road
Now, I will share secret places on the way to the Caucasus Mountains - the most beautiful and astonishing I have seen so far. I do not advice you to take a group tour just to Ananuri or to Kasbegi ( name of Caucasus mountains)-> It is not worth the ride for one thing and especially the money they will charge you. The private car or a tour is much better (if you can’t rent a car). It is not the cheapest option, compare to mini-buses BUT is well worth it as mini bus will not do a single stop on the way (and the schedule is not reliable).
You will follow the infamous Georgian Military Road which was used as a passage between Russia & Georgia.
1st stop is the confluence of Mtkvari & Kura River which is reflected in two different colours, one is ‘blonde’ and another is ‘brune’.
2nd stop is photo stop in their national costume with a riffle gun…. For free.
3rd stop is Ananuri Church - the best Instagram picture is from the little windows on the top of it.
4th stop - The arch of the Russian Georgian Friendship (on the left side)- > the best place to take pictures in the middle of the mountains.
5th stop- Naturally carbonated source of the water and cool looking rocks in the middle of the green grass which were formed by the high concentration of iron in the water. The place id located just bit further drive from the arch -> impossible to miss (on the left side) . The water crane is located on the opposite side from the rocks (behind the sellers), so do not try to fill your bottle from the rocks -> could be dangerous to climb all the way up.
6t stop- And finally Gergeti Trinity Church. The final stop in the Kasbegi Mountains, which is located on the top. There are 2 ways to get there: car drive or a 1 hour hike. We did a hike and enjoyed beautiful views of the mountains and smelled fresh air.
The walking path to the Church
Rooms Hotel Breakfast Buffet ($15).
The Breakfast Spot.
We also happened to be here when one of the hotel's owner arrived by the helicopter so the atmosphere was mesmerizing!