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Georgia

Here’s another confession: We love Georgia. Yes, that’s Georgia the country.

We’ve been to Georgia twice in 2015 and again in 2016. It’s been lingering in our minds again lately, so we thought we’d reminisce and share with you all our favorite places to see when you go there (you should).

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It’s a three-and-a-half-hour flight from Dubai to Tbilisi (the capital), the people are nice and warm, the food is great, fine wine everywhere and the country is simply breathtaking. There are regular flights on Fly Dubai and Air Arabia. And oh, there’s no time difference between Georgia and the UAE.

A little background (thank you, Google), Georgia is a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. It shares borders with Turkey, Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Their people are called Georgians, their official language is Georgian and they have their own script too.

Their currency is called Georgian Lari or GEL. One GEL roughly converts to AED1.30.

It’s a very old Christian country with over 80% of the population being Orthodox. Religion is big in Georgia and the churches are spectacular.

According to one of our tourist guides, the country’s population is 4 million, and 1.5 million live in Tbilisi. For information on visa regulations, see here.

Holy Trinity Cathedral

The Holy Trinity Cathedral

Holy Trinity Cathedral

The Holy Trinity Cathedral church grounds

Holy Trinity Cathedral

The Holy Trinity Cathedral

Sameba Church (Holy Trinity Cathedral)

Sameba is the main Georgian Orthodox Cathedral and is the third-tallest Eastern Orthodox Cathedral in the world. The entire complex includes nine chapels and beautiful gardens. It’s a 5-minute drive if you’re coming from Meidan (their town square) and it’ll cost you around 5 GEL (old taxi without AC) or 7 GEL (newer taxi with AC, but most of the drivers won’t turn it on anyway).

TIP: To enter the orthodox churches in Georgia, the women are expected to cover their heads with scarves or veils, and the men, if they’re wearing shorts, should cover their legs. Nearly all of the churches that we’ve visited have scarves and wraparounds that you can borrow on their entrances. It’s more convenient if you bring your own “head cover” with you at all times.

Narikala Fortress

View from Narikala

Narikala Fortress

Cable cars that go to and from Rike Park and Narikala Fortress

Narikala Fortress

Statue of Mother Georgia

Narikala Fortress

The Narikala is an ancient fortress built for defense in the 4th century. You can take the aerial tramway from Rike Park for 2 GEL (two-way) or you can walk and take the route from Meidan. You’ll get a stunning view of Tbilisi on Narikala. From there you can also go and see the statue of Mother Georgia.

Mtskheta

Jvari Monastery in Mtskheta – listed as a world Heritage site by UNESCO

Mtskheta

View from Jvari Monatery – the junction of Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers

Mtskheta

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral – It is believed that Christ’s robe is buried here.

Mtskheta

Mtskheta used to be the capital of Georgia. It’s one of the oldest cities in the country and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We went there with a small group of tourists and the tour cost 25 GEL, but you can also get there by taxi. The key places to visit in Mtskheta are Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (the tomb of King Gorgasali founder of Tbilisi is inside the cathedral), St. Nino Monastery and Jvari Monastery. It’s 30-40 minutes from Tbilisi.

Old Tbilisi

The Rezo Gabriadze Marionette Theater in Tbilisi

Old Tbilisi

View from the Metekhi Church

Old Tbilisi

The waterfalls in Legvtakhevi

Old Tbilisi

Shot from one of the many souvenir shops in Tbilisi

Old Tbilisi

If you like walking as much as we do, you’re going to love wandering in Old Tbilisi district. It’s famous for its sulfur bathhouses, restaurants, galleries and night clubs. If you just want to relax after a long day of exploring, you need to go and see the little hidden waterfall in Legvtakhevi. You are going to love it, we promise!

Cave City of Vardzia

Vardzia Cave

Cave City of Vardzia

Vardzia Cave

Cave City of Vardzia

These tourists were taking a breather. Vardzia is a challenging climb especially in July.

Cave City of Vardzia

This is one of the most memorable tours we’ve had in Georgia. The famous Vardzia cave is a 4-hour drive from Tbilisi. It has incredible history and a sight that puts the Kindom of Moria to shame. If you choose to take a Vardzia tour, be prepared to climb, sweat and put your best sneakers on. It can be a tough climb for some (for us, maybe?) and bring a bottle of water. But in the end, all that sweating and the future leg cramps are worth it.

Kazbegi

Gergeti Holy Trinity Church (Tsminda Sameba) in Kazbegi

Kazbegi

One of the many wine houses in Kazbegi

Kazbegi

Tourists in Gergeti Holy Trinity Church

Kazbegi

Kazbegi (official name Stepantsminda) is one of the most famous destinations in Georgia. It’s further up in northern Georgia with beautiful surrounding (and mostly snow-capped) mountains. Most tourists travel to Kazbegi to see the 14th century Gergeti Trinity Church (Tsminda Sameba), others go there for hiking, paragliding, rafting and kayaking.

There are jeeps that will take you up to the mountains for 10 or 15 GEL, the roads are narrow and steep all that is worth it when you see the view from the top.

Ananuri Fortress

Ananuri Fortress

Ananuri Fortress

Tower in Ananuri

Ananuri Fortress

Photo inside the church

Ananuri Fortress

Photo taken through an opening on the stairwell

Ananuri Fortress

The Ananuri Fortress in Aragvi dates back to the 17th century and is one of our favorite places to visit in Georgia. It’s currently on UNESCO’s tentative list for inscription on the World Heritage List. Tip: When you get there, climb all the way to the top of the fortress’s tower and you’ll find small openings on the wall where you can take photos just like this one (see above photo). There are two churches within the complex - the Church of the Virgin and Church of the Assumption. If you’re a Game of Thrones fans, you’re going to love this place.

Khinkali

Khinkali

Churchkhela

Churchkhela (Georgian Snickers)

Khachapuri

Khachapuri

P.S. If you’re wondering how Georgian cuisine is like, we promise you won’t be disappointed. They’ve got bbq, lots of kinds of bread and possibly the world’s juiciest tomatoes. Don’t leave without trying khinkali, khachapuri and churchkhela.

There are many other beautiful places, and we’ll post more photos soon.

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