The country of Georgia is a wild land carved out of the Caucasus mountains. Visited by Marco Polo, crossed by the Silk Road, overtaken by Mongols and Persians, once part of the USSR, Georgia is a nation of fierce traditions and beautiful landscapes. Throughout their years of occupation, Georgians never let go of their language, music and dance. It’s an exciting time for Georgia as it strives to step out of Russia’s shadow and forge an identity as a modern, and distinctly Georgian, nation.
While Georgia’s strategic location has put it on the radar of the United States government, it is still widely unknown by the outside world. Georgia is an inexpensive and exciting country to wander about, far from the usual backpacking route. Rather than having to seek out an authentic Georgian experience, they find you – it’s not uncommon to be invited into a stranger’s home for a supra, a traditional feast and drinking ceremony. You can find fairly priced home-stays throughout the country where the family will toast your health and offer the warmest spot by the fire. From hiking in the Caucasus to wine tastings in the Kakheti hills to concerts in Tbilisi, Georgia offers it all with gruff hospitality and a glass of chacha, their own brand of moonshine.
While the tourist infrastructure is being developed, it’s still uniquely Georgian. Now is the time to head to Georgia, while you can still find $6 hostels, roadside supras to join and weekly street sales of Soviet memorabilia.
I spent four months traveling and teaching in Georgia during the fall of 2012. I passed my nights in hostels, on cross-country trains, and at supras with my host family. Drawing from my own experience, as well as further research, I would love to present an overview of the country of Georgia to travelers seeking an off-the-path discovery.