One random night me and my friend decided it was time for us to visit Georgia – no, not the US state and home of Coca Cola, but the little gem of a country that sits between Eastern Europe and Western Asia.
But it wasn’t as easy as we thought. The pre-trip drama: everything was supposed to start on a Friday. We would both meet up in Milan to take a cheap flight to Kutaisi. But one day before departure my Easyjet flight from London-Milan got cancelled and the only other flight there was £400. Since that was almost double the budget I had for this trip I booked a cheap direct Wizzair flight on the Sunday, hoping meet my friend in Georgia. You’d think it would stop there … nope – my friend’s flight got delayed so much that she’d miss her connection in Milan. So instead, she booked on my flight on the Sunday and flew to London.
Our flight on the Sunday got ridiculously delayed as well – meaning we finally made it to Kutaisi in the middle of the night! After a quick nap at Tami Hostel we found a bakery, made a plan of action while enjoying two random khachapuri. As we had 2 days less we had to cut out some of the things we wanted to see and do.
The first thing on our list was a walking tour through Kutaisi as I knew nothing about the city, and it was a great starting point. This fountain near the meeting point is just everything, so ornately beautiful.
Guide Kako shows you around his city and tells you bits and pieces on the history. Like the former summer residence of the king with an inspirational garden that comes complete with a 300 year old tree – scary to think of how many things that tree has seen!
We also caught some serious street art outside the market that basically tells you everything you need to know about Georgia; this mural has the story of Jason and Madea’s (the drama in your favourite soap opera doesn’t compare), David the Builder (not related to Bob) and obviously their love of wine.
Inside the market there’s your standard vegetables, fruits and meat sections. But there’s also a corner with second-hand clothes where we discovered t-shirts with random Dutch slogans!? Are you missing your Schoolcamp ’07 t-shirt? Good chance someone in Kutaisi is walking around with it.
The tour ends on the hill where we got to peek inside Bagrati Cathedral, enjoy views of the city and fill up water bottles. Top money-saving tip – most monasteries have a water fountain where you can top up your bottle for free.
After that we joined forces with two people from our tour and found a taxi driver to take us to two famous monasteries: Motsameta and Gelati. The views and frescoes at Motsameta Monastery definitely won me over. But also the fact that we stumbled upon a group of 20 women who sung hymns and did a ritual where they crawled three times under the ark thee times to grant a wish – and you thought Aladdin had it tough.
The Gelati complex wasn’t a let down by any means – it’s on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites for a reason. There was so much to see and frescos is more colourful than an average teen girls’ room – I’ll share those later. For now, look at this view.
Back in Kutaisi we sat down at Tea House Foe-Foe for tea and traditional Georgian dishes. We chowed down on stuffed grape leaves and Georgian cheese with traditional cornbread and cucumber, and tomato and walnut salad (which was a winner and we ordered it for literally every meal).
After that, it was time to say goodbye to Kutaisi and take a mini bus on to Tbilisi. But not before raiding a mini-market and stocking up on the essentials. Like this Snickers with sunflower seeds instead of peanuts, that means its super healthy right?
Stay tuned for Part II. Where the drama (spoiler alert) did NOT end.