December 10, 2018

Why Georgia Should Be on Your Mind; Ambassador Natalie Sabanadze’s Georgia Highlights.

By H.E. Ms.  Natalie Sabanadze, Ambassador of Georgia to the EU. 

Dear reader of Diplomatic World, welcome to Georgia – a country where “a guest is a gift sent from God”.

In this globalised world, where distance is not an obstacle and attractive destinations compete for your attention, you may wonder why Georgia should be the place of your choice.

A small country sandwiched between Russia and Turkey was, for the most part of the 20th century, hidden away from the inquisitive gaze of a Western traveler as part of the Soviet Union. We have never chosen to be part of the Soviet empire and never consented to the disappearance of Georgia from the map of independent nations.

Exactly 100 years ago in 1918 Georgia established first social-democratic republic in the world and was governed by principles of democracy and equality, including equality between men and women and was dedicated to notions of progress and human emancipation.

The short-lived experiment in Georgia’s progressive social-democracy came to an end with the invasion of Bolshevik Russia but after the end of the Cold War, the country has been returning to its European roots. This year, we are celebrating the centenary of the First Republic and we are happy to note that the world is rediscovering Georgia as tourists abound and as the country is rapidly developing as an attractive destination for all tastes.

Georgia’s location on the geographic, cultural and civilizational crossroads between the east and west, as well as its long, complex and at times tragic history has shaped its culture, defined its character and turned it into the most interesting, distinct and magical places to explore.

The ancient culture mixed with the most vibrant artistic scene of today; the soaring heights of the Caucasus and valleys covered with vineyards; delicious tastes, a mix of the west and the orient to be savored as part of traditional feasting or in numerous outdoor cafes and restaurants; skiing and sun bathing, all awaits to be discovered and appreciated.
Georgians love guests. If you are lost all alone in a remote mountainous village, while tracking or hiking, you will never be left without food or shelter by locals.

The guest is from God, the saying goes and hospitality in Georgia is not just part of the industry, it is part of who we are. And so is wine. Georgia prides itself to be the birthplace of viticulture and a host of hundreds of unique, endogenous grape varieties. Archaeological findings prove that Georgians produced wine in clay vessel (kvevri) already for 8000 years.

UNESCO recognized the Georgian Traditional method of fermenting wine as a part of the world’s intangible cultural heritage, this technology is still alive and thriving, becoming at the forefront of the revival of traditional methods and natural wine production around the world.

From early December to mid April you can discover Georgia’s ski resorts: the best of which are Gudauri, Mestia, Tetnuldi, Bakuriani and Goderdzi. Gudauri offers opportunity for skiers and snowboarders to enjoy Heliski and night skiing. If you are into extreme sports – Mestia and Tetnuldi is where you belong to. Bakuriani is well known for its pure air quality and is the ideal place for family vacations. Last but not the least – the newest resort is Goderdzi, located not far from the seaside, it is in a unique climate zone that ensures snow for the longest period of time.

From early May to late September mountain villages of Georgia offer endless adventures from trekking, hiking, horse riding, mountain-biking, paragliding to rafting. Take a quick flight from Natakhtari to Svaneti and enjoy beautiful remote mountainous region that has preserved its original medieval appearance. Here you can visit Ushguli – UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the highest inhabited village in Europe with it breathtaking scenery and medieval castles and houses.

Tusheti and Khevsureti are perfect destinations for hiking and horse-trekking, where you can follow narrow mountain passes and enjoy amazing natural beauty of almost forgotten paradise. If you are a mountain-biker – head for Kazbegi. It is a perfect place to discover hot springs, waterfalls, and wonderful acidic lakes.

Having mountains and the Black sea together makes Georgia particularly attractive. In summer the Black sea coast is the favorite spot both for locals and tourists. The largest seaside town Batumi is a charming 19th century port with striking architectural diversity and a great offer of festivals and entertainment.

The largest and most interesting of cities, however, is the capital Tbilisi founded in 5th century. It is steeped in history, where the past and the present intersect on every corner and create a city of unique vibe and character. Here Art Nouveau facades and interiors, beautiful local wooden and wrought iron balconies from the medieval area and ultra modern building all create a very distinct architectural fabric of the city.
Old Tbilisi, sits under the imposing Narikala fortress, itself a great site to visit, and is bursting with life day and night with its numerous cafes, wine bars, restaurants and shops. Tbilisi has an increasingly diverse nightlife and is a popular destination for aficionados of electronic music.

Food and wine play a vital role in Georgia’s culture. If you really want to experience Georgia you have to try a Georgian “supra” and enjoy its elaborate culinary delights. Food is made out of fresh local produce and it will make your journey through Georgia particularly delicious.

Many visitors say that at least once in a life time, one should visit Georgia but I believe, if you go there once you are likely to return.

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