Global Passport –
This destination is increasingly becoming popular midst the Desi Janta in the UAE because it has VISA on arrival (Meanwhile some still prefer Thailand). This is the best part – It’s Free! Jee haan bhaiyo aur behano – MUFT. Isn’t it a Desi’s dream come true? It’s that dream in which you make jhinka chika too too with Katrina Kaif. It’s that good. It’s on arrival and free only if you have an UAE residence VISA. I will still give you a checklist (you’re welcome).
– PASSPORT with Valid UAE Residence VISA
– Air tickets
– Hotel Bookings (Beautiful ladies at the immigration might ask you)
Tickets and Wanderlust –
If you are Wanderlusting about Georgia then book the tickets in advance. DO NOT make a dumb move like me. I was bored on a Wednesday; I really wanted to do something over the weekend. So, I booked tickets on Thursday morning for Thursday night. Usually a return airfare from Dubai will cost you somewhere between 900AED to 1300 AED, depending upon the season and advance booking. It cost me about 2250AED. Also it’s more adventurous.
The best time to go to Georgia is spring (March to May) then summer (June to August) then autumn and then winters (especially if you love skiing).
The currency used in Georgia is Georgian Lari and the exchange rate is – 1.67AED for 1 Lari (Variable). As of now it’s not easily available at most of the exchange houses so you need to request for it a few days in advance. I just used my debit card at the airport ATM.
Backpack and Stories –
This was a real adventure. Imagine a really bored guy who books an air ticket to a random destination without doing any research. Also the flight is 12 hours later. I really wanted this. Travelling makes me contented. I was not cancelling this trip even if the world was coming to an end. I don’t know how in Hindi Movies, hero(who realizes that he loves the heroine only when she has left for the airport) does it. Just when she is about to board the flight, hero barges inside the gate and tells her those three magical stupid words. Everyone goes AWWHH without thinking how the hero got past security or why did the Heroine miss her flight which she paid for. You know what they don’t show in the movies – Post marriage the heroine wondering her entire life – Kaash wo flight le li hoti.
Anyway, I was on this adventure trip to Georgia, I landed few turbulence and several mini heart attacks later. Also, when you take a taxi from the airport to the main city there will be several cabbies trying to con you, just like any other city. The average cost should be anywhere from 30 to 50 Laris. Also my hotel was again really really cheap, I booked a cheap hotel because there are no good hostels in Georgia. Now this hotel was so cheap that it was in a mall, you literally had to walk into a mall, take the elevator next to the toilet signs and as soon as the elevator doors opened, there was hotel’s lobby. It was 5am so I went and slept.
The adventure started on the next day – I got talking to the cute receptionist (that was quite adventurous), she told me she had an uncle who could take me around (I thought ab toh rishta pakka). I waited for a couple of hours and I see this grungy looking, metal listening, head banging guy pulling over in a Mercedes. A thought bubble appeared in my head which said – Do not tell him that his niece is cute. I sat in the car and made that hand gesture where you try and tell the other person that you’re hungry. He said – “I know English”, he said it in a way that I almost whispered but I don’t, let’s just stick to sign language. He took me to this amazing local restaurant where we had some local delicacies. Which I will tell you about later in this blog, for now this is how it looked like and it had every local delicacy –
Post a really heavy lunch I wanted to pass out but since I was there for just two days it was a total waste of time. I wanted to see the nearby towns of Tbilisi. My driver – Vald was ready to show me around. We decided to go through – Ananuri – Gudauri to Kazbegi. I will tell you about all of these three place later in the blog but this story is about how I discovered a 14th Century Church somewhere in Mount Kazbegi.
After this spot I asked Vlad – So, now what? He said – “Now we go back”, in a really strong Russian accent. I was in no mood to go back to Tbilisi before late night. I asked him if there was something beyond this point. He said – there was a small town a couple of hours away. Childishly I said – Well, then let’s go!
I cannot tell you how striking the drive was to this place. Oh wait! I can, it’s a blog. Look –
After crossing loads of tunnels and driving through the narrow roads we reached a very small village called Gergeti. There were only few local cafes. I got down to get a coffee, just to give you an idea of how small this place was – The coffee was made with hot water and adding milk. There were no espresso machines. I spoke to the owners – I asked them if there was something exciting to do in that town. They said nope! I wasn’t going to lose hope. When I walking to the car I saw a small little structure far away from me on a mountain.
I asked Vlad if we could go up there he smiled and said – My car no go up there in that heavy Russian mafia accent of his. Now my mission was to go up there and I started asking a few local the way up. I saw this really old 4×4 Vehicle coming towards me. I could hear the bass getting louder as that car came closer. I asked Vlad that if this guy could take us up there, to my luck he said – Yes. We jumped into that car, listening to some trippy dance music. We started driving and as we went further the road started depleting. We reached a point where there were no roads, only several hundred meters fall on both sides. I started wondering if that was a good idea. The road correction the way up there was really really (one more time) really scary, we reached a point where there was a 90 degree turn. I could’ve described it as the Highway to Hell except there was no highway whatsoever.
After at least 45 mins of driving upwards I reached this open mountain flat top. Trust me, it was the most fine-looking, serene view I’ve ever had in my life. I started trekking up a little bit more to that structure which was not as small as it looked. I somehow made my way through the slippery track up there and when I reached my jaw dropped on the ground.
As I walked in I read about this church. It’s called the Church Of Sameba – A 14th Century church located at an elevation of 2200 Meters on Mount Kazbegi. I stepped inside that small church and it smelled like sandalwood and loads of positivity. I don’t know what happened but all of a sudden everything in my head just went – Shhhh on me. I knelt down, closed my eyes and prayed for someone. If I could I would’ve stayed there one more day but sadly Vlad had a date back in Tbilisi. I got out and took one more picture of this place. Not a lot of people know about this place hence why if you go to Georgia next time, please come to this place. I accept thank you and more often cash.
Been There Done That –
Shardeni Street – Let’s start with Tbilisi. It’s a very small city with a lot to do. First let’s get the best party places out of the way. Doesn’t matter who you are, where are you staying, every night just take a cab to Shardeni Street. It’s a place for families, friends, couples basically everyone. It has a lot of local street pubs, clubs and incredible restaurants.
Zhinvali Reservoir – If you want some good pictures and you like reservoirs then this is your place. The Zhinvali Dam is on the Aragvi River in the Caucasus Mountains.
Annanuri – This place is located about 45 miles from Tbilisi and the drive here is gorgeous. It’s a 17th Century Castle with some breathtaking views.
Gudauri – Drive further up from Annanuri if you want to experience life in it’s purest form. Gudauri is a ski resort located on the southern slopes of The Greater Caucasus Mountain Range in Georgia and you can stop at any waterfall to drink water. Yes! You don’t need packaged mineral water.
Mtskheta – If you love history and old buildings then this is heaven for you. The historical significance of this place is so strong that the entire City comes under UNESCO World Heritage site since 1994. It has a lot of orthodox churches and has some astonishing monuments.
Mtatsminda Park – You take a tram up there – it’s a family amusement park located on top of the Mtatsminda Mountain. Not only are the views amazing, it’s one of the few places in the world where you get Chocolate Lemonade. It sounds strange but it tastes like several OMGs.
Church Of Sameba – Read Backpack and Stories for this! Must Visit!!!
Statue of Mother Georgia and Masala Chai – You take a cable car up to the hill, now here is one more insider. Up the hill there is a guy making coffee in a van, he is Indian; you start talking to him in Punjabi and ask him to make a masala Chai for you, he will take out some cardamom and some cloves from his secret drawer to make that perfect chai for you. You can sit right under the mother of Georgia statue with Chai and the view.
Food And Wine – Everything in Georgia is Organic, perks of a small place. Try all the local cuisines – Khinkale, Kupati, their bean soup etc. Also, Georgia is really famous for its wine. Going to Georgia and not trying their wine is like going to Kolkata and not trying Roshogulla.
Tickets – 2250 (Last minute booking)
Hotels – 150 Dhs per night to 300 Dhs (3 star)
Sight Seeing – 600 Dhs Approximately. (Everything that I mentioned)
Party And Food – BYOB (Bring Your Own Budget)
Total – AED 3000.
Is it all worth it? Hell Yes!
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