On Georgia’s Khaketi Wine Route

Khaketi vineyards with the Caucasus Mountains in the distance

Our second day trip out of Tblisi took us through the 1800 meters-above-sea-level Gombori Pass to the Khaketi wine region. Our driver, Mamuka (a/k/a Mamu) turned out to be tons of fun and we had a great day. The sweeping views of the pass gave way to bright green forest as we descended. We stopped to drink from a roadside spring where rows of decorated bottles and snacks were apparently for sale on the honor system. With its abundant springs, water throughout Georgia is of excellent quality.

A roadside spring

When a picturesque monastery perched on a roadside hilltop caught our eye, Mamu pulled in to let us hike up. The 16th century Gremi Monastery surprised us with its little Church of Archangels boasting a wealth of frescoes in varying states of preservation. read more

Day trip from Tblisi: Jvari, Uplistsike, Gori, Mtskheta, Chronicle of Georgia

Rugs, scarves and more for sale outside the walls surrounding
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta

Georgia has so much to offer and I was excited about our first day trip out of Tblisi. I booked a private tour with “Karlo-Georgia” on Viator that offered an interesting mix of sites from differing periods in Georgia’s long history. Our driver turned out to be George (how appropriate!), an independent guide who worked with Karlo. George arrived promptly at 10am across the street from our hotel on Rustaveli Avenue in a spiffy and spacious new SUV. I’d agreed in advance with Karlo on the sites we’d visit, but left it to George to determine the order of our stops as circumstances warranted. It’s impossible to know in advance where we’ll want to linger or move on quickly, how long a lunch break might be, traffic, whether rain will be a factor, etc., so I’m happy to be flexible. read more

Tblisi, Georgia, a city of contrasts

Tblisi viewed from Mtatsminda Park

We arrived in Tblisi on a short Azerbaijan Airlines flight from Baku. The Tblisi International Airport is not big and we quickly collected our luggage and summoned a Bolt car. We ended up using Bolt several times in Tblisi, always with very reasonable prices and typically short wait times. We knew prior to our arrival in Tblisi that massive protests had been going on in the city over objections to a proposed anti-free-journalism law. I messaged our hotel from the Baku airport to verify that the street our hotel was on (the same avenue on which the Georgian Parliament sits) was still open. Thankfully, the hotel confirmed that it was so I could reassure our Bolt driver who at first told me the road was closed. read more