So we’re now a month in and well into our second country, the gorgeous Georgia. Famed for it’s wine and cheesy bread Georgia has certainly lived up to its open and welcoming reputation.
On the 29th April we said a very fond farewell to Turkey, a country so breath takingly beautiful and overwhelmingly friendly it was difficult to say goodbye. A few meters over the border however we were greeted by the rock bottom prices of the local tipple, all thoughts of the country we’d left behind fell by the wayside. Our love affair with the Georgian’s and their home brewed alcohol was born.
After a night in a hotel, a Georgian feast and a great deal of wine in the border town of Batumi, we head off for our first of two nights bush camping. We arrive late in to the spectacular town of Mestia and set up camp just outside for two days. The beautiful mountains in the surrounding area are perfect for hiking and this is exactly what a few of us choose to do the next day.
Now this is a bush camp:
We head off late morning, after a grueling couple of hours trekking vertically up a stream we stop for lunch and take in the view.
After lunch we scramble back down the mountain some of us only just narrowly escaping a savage tree. We come out the other side bumped, bruised and slightly worse for wear but mostly eager for more so we decide to take an alternative route back to camp where we attempt to traverse a glacial stream. When the water rises above Andy’s knees (somewhere around my waist) I decide I can go no further and head back to the bank. Begrudgingly myself, Fiona and Alex, having not made it across, trudge back to camp the way we came thoroughly exhausted but beaming from ear to ear.
From the Mestia we head to the sleepy but affluent town of Kutaisi, with a brief stop at the Prometheus caves on the way. In Kutaisi we are treated to our final warm shower and bed before five consecutive nights of bush camps.
The wonderful Prometheus caves:
On the way to our first nights camp we are ‘treated’ to a stop at the Stalin museum. You may not be aware that Stalin was born in Georgia and the museum is home to his infamous train carriage as well as the home he lived in with his parents. This bizarre museum appears to be more of a shrine to the man himself and glosses over the uglier sections of his history. We leave feeling rather bemused.
During the five nights of bush camping we are treated to another equally stunning mountain range with a few of us again taking the opportunity to drag ourselves up one. Our aim this time is to make it to the snow line, which we just about manage before the rain closes in.
After all the exercise that some of us had managed over the past few days we thought we would treat ourselves once again to some good food and questionable wine. At 5 lari a litre (about £2) the wine is hard to resist. Luckily our final two nights bush camping were spent on the outskirts of a pretty village where wine tasting is easy to come by. After an enjoyable, or not so depending on your perspective, three hours driving around the village we eventually found the winery and were given a brief tour before lunch. A number of bottles were bought, not all by me I hasten to add.
After five nights of camping, two of which were in the rain we are all eager for a shower and a warm place to lay our heads. When we pull up at a large home stay in Telavi, with plenty of the above we are delighted. We have also organised another wine tasting accompanied by a Georgian cookery course (are you sensing a theme yet?). The cookery course was fantastic, I’ll be wowing you all with my new found skills upon my return. The wine the best we have tasted so far, Georgian wine may be cheap but tasty it is not. The almighty leaders assure us that the wine is only going to get worse from here on out so we are stocking up whilst we can.
Wine celler in Telavi:
We have currently been in Tbilisi, the capital, for two days where we have been partying like rock stars and showering like it’s going out of fashion (well we never know when the next one will be coming). We are preparing to leave for country number three, Armenia, tomorrow so it has been a very dry and early nights all round.