Before going to Georgia, we’ve heard a lot about this country, as many of our friends felt delighted after making a trip there. And finally we also had a great opportunity to go there – we planned to see Iran, Azerbaijan and Armenia during our honeymoon trip, so Georgia seemed to be the last matching puzzle in our itinerary. See how we organized it :)
8 days in Georgia
Our route through Georgia was planned very specifically because of Azeri-Armenian conflict. We wanted to go to these 3 countries but couldn’t go directly from Azerbaijan to Armenia or conversely. Besides that, we had to bear in mind that first we need to visit Azerbaijan (they are stricter and if they would see a stamp from Armenia in our passports, they might have made some difficulties to cross the border) and then Armenia.
That’s why our route looked like this:
Baku → Tbilisi → Yerevan → Batumi → Kutaisi
GOING TO GEORGIA
Between all these cities our mean of transport was train and besides Batumi to Kutaisi we were traveling in third class “platzkart”. We enjoyed all our travels in such compartments and recommend it to everyone! We’ve met many interesting people, but the minus is that they all couldn’t speak English and we had to communicate in Russian. For us it was actually a plus because we could practice and improve our skills in this language. But if you don’t speak any Russian, it might be hard for you to communicate.
We got to Tbilisi early in the morning and went to our low-budget hostel to leave our backpacks. That day we wanted to see the city center and try traditional Georgian cuisine, which is widely recommended.
Our first attraction in Georgia was Freedom Square. To get there we took metro and then had a short walk. In the center of Freedom Square we could admire the golden statue of St. George. There are also many buildings with shops and restaurants around.
Our hostel administrator recommended us couple of places to eat and we chose to go to the restaurant called “Samikitno Georgian Cuisine”, which was at the Freedom Square.
We wanted to try Georgian national food and ordered Khinkali and Khachapuri.
Khinkali is a Georgian dumpling and it has minced meat and seasoning inside. In taste it is actually similar to normal dumplings. For us only the filling of Khinkali was a bit spicier. Khachapuri is a cheese-filled bread with an egg. The taste is very specific and cheese has a stronger flavor. It’s definitely something for cheese lovers :)
In general Freedom Square is in the heart of Tbilisi, so many attractions are within the walking distance. The day was beautiful and we headed to the Old Town.
The Old Town of Tbilisi is perfect for a walk. We passed by the Sioni Cathedral by the Kura river – a very atmospheric place. This is the part of Tbilisi where we could see older buildings.
We were strolling around the area and got to the Rike Park, which is more modern and well maintained. The place is very peaceful and perfect to have some rest. We spent there some more time because we came across one big Azerbaijani family that was travelling with us in the train and spent some time together. They all were speaking Russian to us and one women was a Russian teacher and even taught us some :)
Later we split because they took aerial tramway to the top of the Narikala fortress to enjoy the view to the city from the top and we stayed in the area for a little longer.
Near the park many people were selling fresh juices so we just couldn’t resist buying one :) Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to take a picture of it because we drunk it so fast ;) So as you can see it’s a great place with nice views and pleasant surprises ;)
THE BRIDGE OF PEACE
Near Rike Park, there is a Bridge of Peace that connects two river banks of the Kura river. It’s very modern and the construction is original and has a beautiful view to the river and the city.
At that point we finished our sightseeing for that day. We came back to our hostel and took a photo in the bathroom with a very useful information to share with you :)
On the next day we went to the Funicular and took it to get at the top of Mtatsminda mountain. It was a great experience to travel with Funicular and the views were amazing.
From the top, there is a panoramic view to the whole city and we must say that it’s a point that shouldn’t be skipped when being in Tbilisi. We could see that the city is very big and enjoy the view to the nature that is interwoven into all the buildings.
First we checked the restaurants at the top of the mountain but they are more expensive than those in the city and decided to eat in the same place as the day before – the food was good and the prices were fine there.
We took a walk because there is also a park at the top of the Mtatsminda mountain. The park is placed among the greenery and the trees and it’s actually an amusement park. A very pleasant place to spend some free time, especially when the weather is nice and the big plus is that it also has great places for those who need some rest :)
On our way back we had a walk around the city among some narrow streets and came around for dinner to “our” restaurant :) That day the sightseeing was over because next we needed to head to the train station as we had a night train to Yerevan.
In Yerevan we spent two fantastic days and you will be able to read about this in our note about Armenia :)
From Yerevan we took a long overnight train to Batumi and at about 7 am we finally reached our destination. We took a bus to the city and got to our small guesthouse. In Batumi we spent whole 3 days, but we must admit that for us 2 days would be enough. We already got used to our very fast pace of sightseeing and only heading to the most famous and important places. In Batumi there is actually not so many places for sightseeing but it’s a great city to have some rest (something which we aren’t used to do during our trip and something new for us :))
First two days we spent walking around the city and relaxing on the beach.
ON THE BEACH
There is a pebble beach in Batumi by the Black Sea and there are many sun loungers to rent. We just chose two and sat on them and then a guy came to take a payment. The price was 2 GEL. The funny thing was that on the second day we also came and sat on the sun loungers and some other guy came for the payment and he told that the price is 4 GEL :) We told him that yesterday it was 2 and he didn’t even argue and just took 2, so be careful because they may want to cheat you.
The beach is beautiful and there is also a view of the Alphabetic Tower and some other modern buildings from the beach. The alphabetic tower is very imaginative.
After sunbathing, we also wanted to go into the sea. The swells were not big, but they were very strong and we couldn’t go deep into the sea because they could easily sweep us. It was also dangerous for children to go into the water – we’ve seen a how little boy came into the water and it swept him straight away. His father was sitting at the shore and wouldn’t have big chances to quickly rescue him. The boy was only lucky because some strange guy in the water grabbed him quickly and saved him. The swells were so strong that even blew this guy over. So it’s better to be careful there!
After having enough of just lying on the beach, we took a walk along the Batumi Boulevard. We’ve read and heard the opinions that with its artificial shining palms, it’s very fussy :) Maybe there’s something in it, but we just accepted it as a part of “Batumi style” ;)
Although it was summer, the city center wasn’t crowded. We took a walk around the center, some parks and enjoyed the fountains in the Europe Square. Europe Square is a very nice place with pretty buildings. Maybe they are not something very unique, but they are something else. We loved the fact that the place is clean and well-kept.
The whole city is just way different from Tbilisi – the architecture has nothing in common in these both cities and Batumi is just much more colorful and modern than the old and historical capital.
In big cities, there were places with traditional Georgian food on every corner. We have to admit that for us it was great to try, but we aren’t that big fans of it (probably we are the first in the world :)) and after a couple of days we just wanted to order something less Georgian, which wasn’t an easy task.
Batumi is also famous because of its tea fields. We didn’t go there, but we had to try tea while being there. We also bought some to bring home as Agata is a tea-lover :)
On the last day we took a marshrutka to Makhuntseti waterfall. It took us about 45 min to get there. The driver was smoking all the way and even stopped at one shop to buy himself a supply of cigarettes for next hours :)
After getting off the bus, we went straight to the waterfall and felt delighted immediately after seeing it for the first time. At that point we can already say that it’s worth to go there. The transport doesn’t take much time and the waterfall is just beautiful. There are many tourists in this place, but no wonders! It’s really impressive. We just hated the fact that there were people who littered this place and were throwing cigarette butts into the waterfall. It’s just awful and sad because it’s an amazing place.
We were sitting there long because we wanted to enjoy the scenery and take many photos and then headed to the bridge that is about 5 minutes from the waterfall by walking.
This is one of the oldest bridge in the world and it’s made of stone. It looks stunning and doesn’t have any handles. When we got there, the bridge was crowded so we had to go slowly. We could also sit on it for a while and enjoy the view to the greenery from it. Some people were even jumping from this bridge into the water :)
In the morning of the fourth day we got to the train station with a bus and took an electric train to Kutaisi. It took us about 2 hours to get there, but the journey wasn’t very pleasant. Many people are smoking in trains in Georgia, so it can be a nightmare for non-smokers. But there’s no prohibition in Georgia to do it, so they just smoke all the time :(
In Kutaisi we spent whole 2 days, but 1 day would be enough as the city doesn’t have much attractions. We used marshrutkas to get to our hostel or from the hostel to the city – they have fixed stops, but also stop on request.
DAVID AGMASHENEBELI SQUARE AND COLCHIS FOUNTAIN
The fountain is located in the middle of a roundabout on the David Agmashenebeli Square. It’s actually very hard to miss it while being in Kutaisi. The fountain is beautiful and very original.
There is plenty of stairs on a way to Bagrati Cathedral so it was a little bit hard to climb up but worth to. The cathedral is nice and has an interesting architecture. We could go inside but we liked the exterior more. At the time we visited this attraction, the weather was nice so we could sit there for some longer time.
The cathedral is on the hill so apart from the building we could also enjoy the views to the city.
In Kutaisi we found a very nice place to eat – it’s called Althaus and is very easy to find because it’s located near the David Agmashenebeli Square. This place has very interesting and cozy décor, but most importantly: nice waiter service and delicious tea and food. We ate at this place couple of times and tried different things:
GEORGIA – OUR CONCLUSIONS
Georgia is a very popular and well-liked touristic destination so before going there we were thinking that this country will be only amazing. However, beside all the great attractions in Georgia, the country has one big minus we want to mention. If you smoke, you won’t have any problem there, but if you don’t like smoking just like us, Georgia will be a nightmare (of course only at this one point :)) – we had an impression that everyone is smoking there and people were smoking everywhere: in restaurants, at public transport stops and even in buses or trains.
In general we must admit that Georgia is our only destination we would organize different way. Of all the cities we’ve visited, we definitely liked the capital city the most. Batumi also has its own charms, but it’s a more peaceful place for having some relax. Taking a day trip from Batumi to Ajarian woods with stone bridges and waterfalls is also a good idea. We think there’s no need to plan much time for Kutaisi – the city has airport and it’s a perfect place for having a one-day-transfer there to see the most important attractions.
Georgia is known for beautiful mountains so we think, we would be more satisfied to go there instead of spending so much time in the cities. But we can always go there for the second time and now we have reason to do so ;)
And one more thing: we visited Georgia during summer and it was very hot there at that time. We recommend eating watermelons there as they are very sweet and tasty in this country and trying their orange soda. We don’t know the name (because it’s written in Georgian language) but it looks like this:
They have different flavors and they are all delicious (especially the green one :)). It’s a perfect drink to slake your thirst during hot summer :)