Tailor-Made Central Asia expert Marianne travelled to Georgia in May last year and found a country of stunning scenery, friendly locals and amazing food.
Where is your favourite place in Georgia?
Kakheti, a wide valley with farms, wineries, walled hill top towns and all with the Caucasus in the back ground. Having had an amazing lunch in a family home with a great view of the mountains I then drove on through the hills for a stroll around the beautiful town of SIghnaghi.
What do you like most about Georgia?
The welcoming nature of the Georgians, they were always pleased to invite me into their houses, offering freshly baked goods and tea. Generally the whole family was there, the kitchens were always cosy and homely.
Any must-sees? Or insider tips away from the tourist trail?
Go to Svaneti to see the villages with their medieval tower clusters, the villages vary in size, some with just a couple of houses, others with many, but all have a strong sense of community in this remote rural region.
What was the biggest surprise about Georgia?
Just how stunning the scenery was, I knew the mountains would be great but the combination of scenery, villages, houses and farmland was fantastic, a bit like an un-airbrushed Switzerland.
Any advice for first-time visitors?
ATMs are available in towns and cities, have a scarf handy for visiting monasteries, make sure you include some walking in the mountains – also makes a perfect excuse for eating everything in sight at meal times. There will be plenty for you to buy as well, stop at the road-side stalls for ceramics and wood carved items, I love my terracotta coffee pot I managed to get home. Also, try figuring out the alphabet – if you look at the place names on street signs, which are also stated in English, you should be able to work out how to read Georgian pretty easily despite how strange it looks.
Any local delicacy visitors should try?
The tradition when drinking wine is to make a toast with every glass, there is often a toastmaster but the honour will be passed around the table.