Last February, we went on a short trip to Georgia. Back then, the threat of covid-19 seemed distant and still avoidable – there were no reported cases in Georgia yet; and despite a few confirmed cases in the UAE, the airport was still buzzing with eager, mask-wearing travelers not minding the dangers lurking around – including us.
As of writing, the number of covid-19 cases are still surging worldwide, although in lighter news, some countries have succeeded in flattening the curve and others are seeing reducing numbers. Because the travel and tourism industry are one of those who took a huge hit from this pandemic, the future of traveling is still a blur (at least for us); so for now, all we can do is stay safely at home, travel through memories, and add piles to our places to go and things to do post covid-19 era.
Speaking of “traveling through memories”, a phrase I’d like to think I’ve coined 😜, below are some of the most stunning (and instagrammable lol) places we’ve found during our short, but wonderful vacation in Georgia (not the US state, but the country situated at the juncture of Western Asia and Eastern Europe; surrounded by the countries of Russia, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan) [source]
1. (Random streets) Old Town – Tbilisi
The streets of Tbilisi’s Old Town are sights to behold! At first, you’ll get intimidated by the narrow alleys and snaking lanes you’ll encounter, but brave them and you’ll find yourself surrounded by picturesque structures and corners that will give your instagram feed a very vintage vibe.
2. Baratashvili Underpass Street Art
Technically still part of the old town, this artistic setup deserves a spot on its own. A bridge-long of wall art and murals, this underpass will certainly be loved by artists and art fanatics.
3. Bridge of Peace
No visit to Tbilisi would be complete without snapping a few photos at this bridge. Foolishly nicknamed as “Always Ultra”, this sanitary pad-resembling structure is made of steel, glass canopy and thousands of white LEDs. Visit this bridge at night and marvel at its shimmering display of lights.
4. Rike Park
In the heart of the city and just over the Bridge of Peace is Rike Park. A huge and artistic park that when viewed from a bird’s eye, creates a large-scale map of Georgia [source]. Here, you can find a cable car station that will lead to another magical location. We spent a few minutes here, catching our breath in between sites and adding more snaps to our camera rolls.
5. Narikala Fortress
An ancient fortress built in the 4th century, Narikala provides a breathtaking view of Tbilisi. *For 7 gel per person one way, riding a cable car to reach this fortress is one sure way of appreciating the city in all corners.
6. Mtkvari River
A 30-minute cruise along the Mtkvari river wasn’t part of our original itinerary. We stumbled upon a nice lady offering this cruise at a friendly price. It was a nice way of appreciating the touristic spots (see Bridge of Peace in the first photo) from a different perspective while chilling (literally 😅) with a glass of wine in hand.
Indulging on sulphur baths is one of the things you shouldn’t miss when visiting Georgia, and this ancient district in the old town is known for that. The beautifully-built bathhouses make for a backdrop, perfect for that instagram-worthy shot. Also, do not miss the mini “lock bridge” tucked between two bathhouses (Chreli Abano and Royal Baths).
*Sulphur bath cost for a private room at Chreli Abano (for 2 guests) = 50 gel.
8. Fabrika Hostel
I stumbled upon this place on the internet while I was actually looking for “instagrammable” places in Georgia. It is a former sewing factory turned into an artsy hostel and a hub for creatives with a number of shops and restaurants. If you find yourself here, do check out Shio – they serve delectable japanese food and the best ramen we’ve ever tasted!
9. Georgian churches and cathedrals
The churches in Georgia are holy [pun intended] magnificent structures inside out with incredibly rich history. The Jvari Monastery and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites – with the latter being known as the burial site of Jesus Christ’s mantle.
10. Gudauri Ski Resort
During winter season, when the mountain slopes get blanketed by thick snow, one the most visited places in Georgia would be Gudauri ski resort. Winter tours and activities always include a trip to this largest and highest ski resort in the country. Whether you are a snow sport fanatic or a kid at heart who enjoys creating snow balls and angels, you’ll find a trip to Gudauri an enjoyable one. Don’t miss riding the cable cars to the top and have a glass of wine or hot chocolate to go with the yummiest cheesecake at Cafe Vitamin.
11. The Chronicle of Georgia
Created by Russian artist, Zurab Tsereteli in 1985, this 16-pillar monument near the Tbilisi Sea is surprisingly unpopular to tourists. Though it is partially complete, this hidden gem is quite impressive. Reaching this place would be a struggle to commute, so we booked a private car via an app, Yandex – Georgia’s Uber counterpart – *for 20 gel roundtrip (from Lighthouse hotel in old town Tbilisi).
12. Vineria Kakheti
Georgia is said to be the birth place of wine and as one of the oldest wine regions in the world, it isn’t hard to believe so. We were delighted to have sampled some of the best tasting wine we’ve had at Vineria Kakheti, whilst also learning a bit of history behind making them. Be ready for a shot of Georgia’s famous drink, cha-cha, as a preparation to their wine tasting activity.
*as of February 2020 visit