Planning And Arrival
It was spring 2017, I was planning with my friends for a trip to Croatia, mainly Dubrovnik and I was so excited, I want to visit all these Game Of Thrones shooting spots…It was only April and the trip is in August so we have time! Sure there will be no problem with work; I mean 4 months’ notice for a vacation is more than enough! But the surprise was that my specific vacation dates were denied due to a conflict with another employee…and not any employee! We tried to change the dates, it didn’t work for my other friends, so they booked to Croatia and my best friend and I started to search for another trip that suits my days. We were confused and we didn’t have time to prepare the documents for Schengen Visa nor find a suitable trip. Eventually, we ran out of time and now we need an available trip to a country that doesn’t require a Visa.
Well with having a passport that is among the top ten worst passports in the world, it’s not easy at all! You can travel to around 40 countries without a Visa and most of them are not really a great deal for tourism! Plus you need to check if there are organized trips from Lebanon to these countries otherwise you just need to do all the research and take the risk while you don’t have much time.
We checked the travel agencies and we found out a new country popping out in the ads, no visa needed, the country is beautiful and it’s in Europe? Really! This country was Georgia. No it’s not Georgia State in USA. Georgia is a country at the intersection of Europe and Asia, in the Caucasus region of Eurosia located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe; it is bounded to the west by the black sea, north by Russia, south by Turkey and Armenia and the southeast by Azerbajian. It’s a former Soviet Republic. Its capital is Tbilisi, our destination.
It was summer time, August 2017; we could squeeze 4 days at the end of August to have a short vacation in Tbilisi.
And here we are at Tbilisi International Airport. Someone should be waiting for us holding a sign with our names. We stood there for about 10 minutes after we checked all the people holding signs and nothing! OK I guess we’re stuck here, our phones are not working and the people at the airport hardly understand English but I kept asking and then suddenly some old man asked me to follow him after I mentioned the agency name only to find our guy standing silently carrying a sign with my name, he seems hiding to me! OMG! He was standing the entire time! A very nice and gentle guy, his name is Soso. Thanks God we were relieved, I mean it will be kind of hard speaking Georgian now and manage to leave the airport!
The moment we stepped in the car, Soso asked us if we want Wifi so we can inform our fellows in Lebanon that we arrived safely and so. And we were like, Wifi? Here in the car? Then I whispered to my friend, don’t be so impressed, he will think we’re coming from the desert or something! I mean in my country we struggle sometimes from the bad connection, the lack of Wifi and also 4G in comparison to the high internet and telecommunication rates in Lebanon. We are among the most expensive countries in the world and the service is really shitty most of the time. OK I started to love Georgia more! And we couldn’t hide how impressed we were! 😁
Soso was struggling to speak English, he was very nice and he was trying! And we really appreciated this so much!
Our hotel was a 3 stars hotel just because we liked the location and photos after Googling it. I always choose 4 stars hotel and sometimes 5, but what matters to me is a clean hotel and a great location and friendly staff. So the hotel was great and we enjoyed the entire stay and the staff is very friendly and really nice! The hotel name is Tiflis Hotel in Marjanishvili Square: https://hotel-tiflis.com/
We arrived around 8:00 PM, Soso told us that it is very safe to take a walk in the city (the hotel was in the heart of the city which is great) and when we stopped to change money, I asked him if we should be worried from theft and this is the first time I hear someone saying, while traveling, that you don’t need to worry, no such thing! Usually even the citizens of any country ask you to take care, always carry the bag in front of your body or just carry a simple fanny pack…But Soso insisted that no need to worry at all and somehow I found myself not worried! Another reason to love Georgia! ❤
The currency is Georgian Lari, back to 2017, 1 US dollars was for 2.34 Lari (currently is 2.66) and the money value is very good.
The first impression I got of the Georgians, they mind their own business, but they are nice and calm, then we realized that they respect their country and their culture very much, not many speak English even in restaurants and tourist attractions but they try to understand and reply as much as they can.
In Georgia, You can see people from all nationalities, European, Arabs, American, Latino, Asian,… veiled women, priests and Imams in a perfect harmony. No judgment and no surprises even though Georgia is a part of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Georgians have adapted Christianity in the early 4th century. Their flag is white with a centered red cross actually it called the Five Cross flag because there are also 4 small crosses but the country is open to all cultures and religions.
Tonight we will walk in the city near the hotel and tomorrow Soso with a tour guide will be accompanying us for the upcoming 3 days to discover Tbilisi and Georgia. They will pick us tomorrow at 10:00AM.
Are you excited to visit Tbilisi? Stay tuned!
H.A – January 18th 2019