AN ANCIENT BADLAND
Roam with us across Georgia. From the Black Sea beaches to the tranquil Caucasus Mountain villages, we take you on an adventure to prove to you why you shouldn’t plan your visit, but rather let the country's scenery guide your journey there
Words: Emily Georgieva
Photography: John Forson
26 February 2020
Georgia is a place where time stands still and everything has meaning. The locals hold dear what their ancestors started – most of the traditions are still celebrated yearly. Depending on when one visits, you could witness an ancient ritual being performed on the streets or in sacred places like the century old churches that represent the country so well. Some of those rituals have been passed on from what usually is more than 20 generations, which is what makes them so special.
Traditions have always been important for Georgians. They have been a way for people to express themselves and their culture. Nowadays, Georgia is not one of those places where you will see tourist crowds filling up the squares and towns and that’s perhaps the country’s biggest charm. Whenever foreigners make their way to this Eurasian place, they are often greeted by locals, who don’t mind sharing the secrets of their lifestyle. This is why the country is the place to step out of your comfort zone and challenge the curious nomad in you. It would be a shame to visit Georgia and not say ‘yes’ to things locals offer to teach you. Don’t hesitate to learn from those who are willing to share the ins and outs of their culture.
Georgia is believed to be the world’s first wine producer, tracing the history of winemaking some 8,000 years back, so we strongly recommend tasting this ‘juice of the gods’ whilst you’re there to get a taste of the country. Of course, a wine is best complimented with cheese and bread and there are few places in the world that know how to make bread better than the locals in Georgia. If you do have the chance to watch Georgians make bread, make sure to find the time for it. This will be an unforgivable experience that will give you a glimpse into a tradition that has been a construct of the country’s culture for what seems like forever.
Georgia is visually stunning, but it goes way beyond the Black Sea tranquil beaches and the charming Caucasus Mountain villages. Nature enthusiasts can head to Mount Shkhara, known as Europe’s second highest peak – higher than Mount Blanc. The mountain ranges will have you in awe but the century-old churches and legendary monasteries, some of which date all the way back to 12th and 13th century. Places of such descent are not a rare view in Georgia. Some places such as the Vardzia monastery and the city of Tbilisi have become UNESCO heritage sites and are worth paying a visit to.
After dedicating some time to climb some of the most incredible mountain peak you’ll possibly ever hike in your lifetime, we recommend roaming off to the villages where you can mingle with the locals. Places like those are where it seems that Georgia can really make it seem like time has slowed down its pace just so people can exist in a time different than the present. Folk music will make you dream of this place from centuries ago when the same traditions that people celebrate today started getting shared among the locals.
Georgia is a cultural mishmash and will catch you by surprise many times. Ancient meets contemporary in those Badlands where travellers lose track of time in their attempt to become one with this magical place. If you want to go to Georgia, don’t make a plan of how your journey should look like. Let the country guide you instead. Listen to its rhythm and embrace its multilayers. A place like Georgia is hard to find, difficult to put in words and impossible to forget.