When in Georgia, the Soviet-era vibe is undeniably irresistible, let alone the architecture of buildings that have vintage vibes on them. Georgia has rich historical stories that can inspire us to see our daily lives in a positive light. Hubby and I visited Georgia in June 2022 and took a 12-hour tour to learn more about its people, food, and culture!
Let’s the exploration begin!
What an Amazing 12-Hours Tour Trip in Georgia
Kazbegi to Ananuri.
We started our journey from Tbilisi, Georgia. We joined a small group tour, which cost 70 GEL per person via Ushba Travels. We left the meeting point in Tbilisi at 9 a.m. and started our journey to the legendary region of Mtskheta-Mtianeti. It’s east-north of Georgia, where we can find the magnificent Kazbegi.
My hubby and I were so excited because everything was new to us. On top of that, we have met beautiful people from Kyrgyzstan, Russia, India, and even from our home country, the Philippines! It so happened that the Indian and Filipino folks were also UAE residents, so we understood the assignment. Lol. I highly recommend taking a group tour, because it’s so much fun! Plus, our tour guide Ms. Nina was friendly, accommodating, and could speak Russian and English when educating us about the places we visited.
Georgia is a mountainous country, and Kazbegi is on the northern slopes of the mighty Caucasus range. During our trip, we did see the beauty of the mountain ranges while driving on the adventurous Georgian Military Highway.
We noticed an endless number of cargo trucks at the time! These trucks, we were told, are waiting in line for border checks and controls as they prepare to cross the border from Georgia to Russia. Mt. Kazbek, also known as Mt. Kazbegi, was also visible. One of the Major Caucasus mountains, this mountain is said to be a dormant stratovolcano. Mt. Kazbek is situated on the Russian-Georgian border, where we have seen endless cargo trucks.
Looking at the cargo trucks gave me an eerie feeling, knowing there is an existing conflict between Ukraine and Russia. As a result of this heartbreaking clash, border controls are more stringent and time-consuming for cargo traveling by land, air, and sea throughout the region. I can only imagine how frustrating this must be for the drivers and other stakeholders. It’s no surprise that everything has risen in price.
Fortunately, the beauty of the environment has quickly captured my heart, and I can instantly forget the world’s difficulties! If you want to reconnect with mother nature and clear your mind from toxicity, just looking at the view along the road we passed is a treasure! You don’t have to die to see paradise.
Our First Stop: Jinvali Water Reservoir
We were stunned when we saw this glorious water reservoir. Jinvali Water Reservoir was our first stop since this magnificent lake is located on the Georgian Military Highway. Tbilisi’s rapid growth necessitated the construction of a new water supply. Therefore, Jinvali dam was constructed in the 1980s by the Soviets.
I fell in love with the view! The lake was softly calm, and the sky was clear blue. While we observed its surroundings, we also took some amazing selfies. At some point, the sun is hiding because it was overcast, yet it let Jinvali dam shine and sparkle!
There were vendors selling beautifully crafted souvenirs as well as snack vendors. There are also man-made sculptures where you can pay 5 Lari for great selfies having an excellent background. It was indeed a fun experience!
Our Second Stop: Ananuri Fortress Complex
We arrived at our second stop about 45 miles from Tbilisi! Ananuri is a castle complex on the Aragvi River in Georgia’s Dusheti Municipality. It was made during the feudal era, which is between the 9th to 15th centuries.
Without a doubt, I was astounded because I had only seen such a fortress on National Geographic. Still, that day I was able to see it in person. Although some parts were reconstructed for maintenance, its century-old beauty can’t be denied.
Inside the fortress, a centuries-old church is still in use today. Georgia is an orthodox Christian country, so the church’s design incorporates symbols of its faith. They believe that God revealed himself in Jesus Christ and in Christ’s incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection.
The architecture was exquisite when the Church of the Assumption (Ghvtismshobeli) was built in 1689 for Duke Bardzem’s son. The Ananuri is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The church houses the ruins of several frescoes, most of which were destroyed by fire in the 18th century. Seeing all these artifacts inside the church was a surreal experience.
Our Third Stop: Wildflowers Honey Tasting
We then continued our journey and saw Georgia’s legendary landscapes. Our eyes were lavished with visual treats. We visited a local wildflower honey maker in the middle of nowhere. They demonstrated and taught us how to tell the difference between real honey and sugarcane honey-like syrups.
It turns out that if you place honey in a bowl of water and shake it in a circular motion, genuine honey will form a honeycomb-like shape, confirming that it is real honey. They also let us taste fresh raw honey, and my hubby and I both preferred the raspberry-flavored honey. It was delicious!
Our Fourth Stop: White and Black Aragvi
We then continued our 12-Hours tour, stopping at the confluence of two rivers, the famous White and Black Aragvi. It is located in Pasanauri, Georgia. We were told that the White Aragvi and Black Aragvi each have their own color that meets and merges into one river but does not mix. That is why it is so admired among both local and non-local tourists. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate with us in any way, so the scenery of the two rivers merged into one was obscured.
Our Fifth Stop: Restaurant Mleta
Of course, we are all eager to taste the goodness of Georgia. Therefore our fourth stop in our 12-hours tour was Restaurant Mleta, located in Kvemo Mleta, Georgia. They serve traditional Georgian dishes. My hubby and I ordered Lobiani, Shkmeruli, and Kharcho.
Yes, definitely, a new favorite has been unlocked! Shkmeruli became our new favorite! It’s roasted chicken with a tasty garlic sauce. We were told that this dish is a firm favorite among Georgians. We immediately understood why. The creamy, delicious garlic sauce elevates the roasted chicken’s crispy skin and juicy meat. It goes well with bread or even white rice!
Hubby and I also fell in love with Kharcho and added it to our favorite list! It’s a traditional Georgian soup cooked with beef, rice, cherry plum purée, and walnuts. Georgians are nuts about walnuts, so they use them frequently in their cooking. Traditionally, the soup is topped with finely chopped fresh coriander. I don’t like coriander because of its strong aroma, but this dish changed my mind!
While Lobiani is a yummy bread filled with nicely cooked beans and herbs, it is definitely a must-try traditional food of Georgia!
Our Fifth Stop: Rooms Hotel Kazbegi
We were supposed to go paragliding at Gudauri Paragliding Ski Resort, but it was raining cats and dogs! You can’t predict the weather when touring around mountain ranges. June is technically summer in Georgia, but the rain was there to greet us. For our own safety, we decided to go to Rooms Hotel Kazbegi instead.
We were not disappointed because Rooms Hotel provided us with a comfortable lodge to relax in while we paused until the rain to stop. We ended up drinking some cappuccino and relaxed for a while. When the rain stopped, we took advantage of the opportunity to capture some stunning selfies and landscapes! The scenery was breathtaking!
Our Sixth Stop: Russian-Georgian Friendship Monument
We then continued our 12-hours tour along Georgian Military Highway in Gudauri. We reached the Russian-Georgian Friendship Monument which is our sixth stop. The Treaty of Georgievsk Monument is another name for this monument. It was told to us that it was built in 1983 to commemorate the bicentennial of the Treaty of Georgievsk. And the long ongoing friendship between Soviet Georgia and Soviet Russia.
What I liked best about this awesome place was the mesmerizing view. I even saw a mountain that resembled the Aphine brand, which brought back memories of my childhood. My hubby and I were so grateful for the lifetime experience!
Our Seventh Stop: Mineral Spring Gudauri
Our seventh and final stop for our 12-hours tour before heading home was Mineral Spring Gudauri. There are numerous water springs in Georgia, but this one is located alongside the Georgian Military Road. The chemicals in the water left behind a “rusty” residue. I was anxious to taste it, but my brave chef hubby did. He described it as sparkling water with a full-packed mineral flavor.
Still, it was an amazing experience observing the place and our tour groupmates having so much fun taking selfies on the solid rock part of the slope. Everything is stunning!
We started our journey back to Tbilisi, Georgia, around 6.30 p.m., and because it’s summer, the sun didn’t set until after 8 p.m. Our minivan was jam-packed with excellent dance music. Georgian and Russian music was introduced to us. We also played Filipino, Indian, and Western classic music to soothe us on the way home.
We arrived home after 9 p.m. because our driver drove us safely, despite the sharp turns of the mountain roads, let alone the crossing cows or stray dogs. It was a real adventure!
Georgia has given us numerous reasons why we must indulge in environmental protection. Georgia gradually unfolded in front of me as I witnessed the incredible stops we visited during our 12-hours tour. I don’t have enough words to define how much I enjoyed that trip! When you visit Georgia, I strongly advise you to take this route; it is breathtaking. I was speechless!
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