Georgia in Winter with @ibnfatota

With a population of only 3.5 million for a country that is almost triple the size of Jeddah, it can get very quiet and sparse. However, this was not evident on my previous visit during Summer where the country was spurred with tourists.

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Georgia is a peaceful country with many old architectures from the Soviet period,  combined with naked trees, cold wind, and snow, makes it feel very rustic. It is a great choice for the country to unwind and getaway solo, with your partner or for a family!

The trip to Georgia arranged by Adil more known as @ibnfatota was filled with so many activities and fun!

I had a fabulous time with the group exploring the beauty, culture, and history of Georgia.

Here are the places we visited during the 8 days trip.

Day 1 Tbilisi

  • Bridge of Peace –  The bow-shaped bridge has become an iconic landmark of Tbilisi with illuminating LEDs that attracts the eye in the evening. The bridge connects the old and new district of Tbilisi over the Kura River that passes through Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/GbjM4xJZkf12

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  • Music Hall in Rhike Park – The Music Hall with modern architecture is still under construction. Rumors have it that the current government does not want to proceed with the completion as the design is not suitable.
  • Mother of Georgia – It is probably one of the most notable landmarks in Tbilisi, standing tall on the edge of Sololaki Hill. She symbolizes the national culture by holding a bowl of wine to greet those who come as friends and a sword on the other hand for those who come as enemies.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/TgJmweQmAiA2

  • Zipline – Just on top of the Sololaki hill (Mother Georgia), there is a zip line that will take you down to the botanical garden. It’s  great short flight above the lush greens of the botanical garden.
  • Botanical Garden – It’s a great place to walk around and spend a few hours. It has variety trees, gardens from different countries and it also has a waterfall.
  • Old Town – The old town is where you will find beautiful architecture and old buildings hanging over a cliff above a river. It also has many restaurants, sulfur baths, and if you hang around there on a Saturday you will most likely run into a couple of gorgeous brides and grooms as they take beautiful photos. It is highly recommended to get lost among the narrow streets of the old town; not only the main streets.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/zScEG9KdbaQ2

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  • Sulphur Bath – There are a couple of Sulphur Baths in the old town. They date back to 100 years ago. The price range is available from 1USD to 100USD. It’s definitely one of my must do in Tbilisi. It’s extremely cheap and the benefits are endless. You will find a couple of sulfur baths in the same area.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/p8HnwEqQmF32

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  • Juma Mosque – It is possibly one of two mosques in entire Georgia as Muslims constitutes only 9% of the population.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/mEq7bFrvwWC2

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  • Turtle Lake – It’s a great place to cool down during the heat of summer but not recommended in winter. It gets quite foggy and the lake won’t be as visible. However, it is still a nice place to walk around the lake.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/q85bTbzQwJm

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  • Holy Trinity Cathedral – This largest cathedral in Georgia is more known as Sameba. It is a beautiful cathedral and we got to see a ceremony during our visit. The interior of the cathedral is still under work.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/dNjBb9aWdA42

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  • Dinner & Folk Dance – We had dinner at Gorgasali Restaurant and enjoyed a live band as well as a folk dance over a delicious dinner. The Georgian dance is such a treat to the eyes and the ears!

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/vrdLcaQxmHG2

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  • New Years Celebration – Georgia is one of the few countries that recognize the informal holiday of the Old New Year of the Julius Calendar. There wasn’t any official celebration but fireworks were shot all over the sky of Tbilisi. It was a beautiful sight as we chase fireworks in the middle of the night 😀

Day 2 Tbilisi & Gudauri

  • Jvari Monastery – This 6th Century monastery translates to Monastery of the Cross as the first cross was built here by Saint Nino that drew people from the Caucasus region to visit the small church. It stands on a mountaintop overlooking the confluence of the Mtkvari and Argavi Rivers.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/PXhoPf5rhLH2

  • Annanuri Castle – Just like other monasteries with a perfect viewpoint, the view from the castle complex is a great one!

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/9zaVBY9G8eq

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  • Gudauri – It is a ski resort to the north of Tbilisi with only 2 hours drive. The slopes area BEAUTIFUL although it could be challenging for beginners. Regardless if you ski or not, you could still get on the cable car and hang around the cafe on the mountains while watching other ski or snowboard 😀

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/5Kn32aiT76Q2

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Day 3 Gori & Borjomi

  • Stalin Museum – It is located in Gori and takes about an hour by car. There’s not much to do ion Gori other than visiting the Joseph Stalin Museum and perhaps a visit to Uplistiskhe Cave which is about 20 minutes drive from the museum. Visit Gori only if you have an interest in knowing more about Stalin.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/uFsqjQgeoNF2

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  • Borjomi – It is a resort town 2 hours and a half away from Tbilisi and the only other town that has natural sulphur water.
  • Old Borjomi Restaurant –  Don’t forget to order their Chicken Salad, visit the old park and ruined church across from the restaurant.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/M9ENNc5rBMR2

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  • Borjomi Central Park – This is probably one of the best moments we had on our trip. Not because of walking around the park but a pitch black – slippery – snowy trail between river and forest and get rewarded with an outdoor sulphur bath. Some of us slipped, tumbled and slid their way down the trail 😀 SO MUCH FUN! Since we weren’t satisfied enough with the NYE fireworks, we got our own and it was amazing! Location: https://goo.gl/maps/wQ5vJYRbPmC2

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  • Outdoor Sulphur Bath – After the struggle of trying not to break our back or slipping on ice, we were rewarded with a steamy outdoor sulfur bath that was very rejuvenating. I slept like a baby that night! 😀

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Day 4 Kutaisi & Borjomi

  • Prometheus Cave – It is the biggest cave in Georgia with impressive stalactites and stalagmites. The visit is allowed only with a guided tour. It takes about an hour to complete the 1.4km stretch of chambers that is open for visitors. There are other activities which can be arranged at the Visitor Center.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/9XYac1csqhC2

  • Six Springs Bath – We ended the day in the best possible way with a massage package of a mud wrap, traditional massage, hydromassage, and sauna. The package costs only 48 USD.

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Day 5 Bakuriani 

  • Bakuriani – It is another popular ski resort that has plenty of activities options and child-friendly. They have snow sled, horse ride, ski mobile, ski, and snowboarding. The rent is extremely cheap too! Only 2USD per hour.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/oeYP29XcmVG2

  • Dinner at Crowne Plaza Hotel – Excellent food and price! Highly recommend their mushroom soup.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/qAzEm9Mgw8p

Day 6 Mtskheta

  • Mtskheta – It is the old capital that is still preserved to date. The cobblestone narrow alleys is a perfect place to stroll.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/SY1JD9tmQZy

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  • Lunch in Georgian Restaurant – I don’t remember the name but it is the first restaurant as soon as you enter the market on your right. They have delicious food. I recommend their beef soup and khachapuri.

Day 7 Tbilisi

  • Mtatsminda – It is a mountain with an amusement park, has a 360 view of Tbilisi and also known for the TV Tower. You can reach it either by car or a funicular. I would recommend going at least one way with the Funicular and enjoy the ride with a panoramic view of Tbilisi.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/Ut1YyEnust72

I stayed longer than the other group and visited other places

1. Uplistsikhe Cave – It is an ancient rock town close to Gori. I would recommend a visit only if you are visiting Gori/neighboring area.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/1kB6qbRfe2M2

2. Old Metekhi Restaurant – An affordable fine dining restaurant with great food, live band, and folk dance. The show starts at 8 every night!

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/Y699DavJpzx

3. Dry Bridge – I am glad that I visited the Dry Bridge without any cash or else I would have spent it all! You can find the most unique and vintage things for a bargain! I got a pair of beautiful stone earrings for only 2USD!

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/nKjLjLwtw612

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4. Opera & Ballet Theater – Do visit the Opera & Ballet Theater if you are interested in them.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/1EaicgHvtHn

5. Georgian Dance School – I found the dance so fascinating and wanted to see the entire process. Georgian Dance; NOT EASY but it is so elegant, classy and beautiful to watch!

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Accommodation

Tbilisi – Gallery Palace Hotel

  • Comfort – 4.5/5
  • Food – 3/5
  • Plus point: They have a bidet! Plus, it is in a prime location, 3 minutes walk from Galeria Mall, Liberty Metro, and Liberty Square
  • Location: https://goo.gl/maps/8YETz5Fz5g82

Borjomi – Rixos

Recommended Local Dishes

  • Georgian Homemade fries with onion and tarragon sauce on the side
  • Khinkali – Georgian dumpling
  • Khachapuri – Cheese Pie
  • Chikhirtma – Georgian Chicken Soup
  • Chkmeruli – Chicken with Garlic sauce

Personal advice based on experience: Their beef hot dishes aren’t that great because it is usually dry or extremely chewy.

Photos were taken by @edossary

Thank you @ibnfatota for arranging this memorable trip!

and Thank you D&G Tours for being with us in every step and helping us with everything we need!

If you guys need a knowledgable, convenient, flexible, helpful and everything you need from a tour company, D&G is the right one!

Contact Person: Georgi

Contact Number: +995555933339

Website: www.tours-geo.com

A Yemeni/Indonesian who knew nothing outside Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; now craving to explore other cultures, traditions, and way of life.

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