East Georgia - Trailing the Wine Route

Georgia is one of those countries that offers an entire platter to tourists. Winter? No problem. Summer? Even better. Every month is special - from grape picking to cultural events. We went in December, and had the time of our life.

We stayed in Tbilsi the whole time, in a lovely airbnb owned by a Georgian architect and his wife. Every alternate day, we would explore the city. And every other day, we would take day trips to villages, towns, cities around Tbilsi. We took 2 tours - one to Telavi - via Sagarejo, Signaghi and Gurjaani and second to Kutaisi - via Ananuri and Gudauri. Both these trips were in different directions.

This is a post on our day trip to East Georgia, and our first stop, to be honest, was before we stopped at a vineyard. It was to get us some breakfast - we got some fresh bread with delicious raisins.

Shepherd walking his sheep.


Sagarejo
When we were traveling to Georgia, a few friends who'd probably been there, asked us to definitely try the local wine. We drove by Sagarejo, a town in the Kakheti district. Kakheti is famous for its vineyards. Even in the winter, these lovely vineyards had a beautiful charm. We drove through miles and miles of the 'wine route' - and both sides of the road offered this view. 
Eat: There are small stores on the way that will make excellent Nescafe coffee for you and from where you can buy warm fresh bread. 

Nature stop. By the wineyard.


It was winter, but a wineyard is still a wineyard.

This poor guy got left out and froze.

As we drove on, I found this unusual sight. And he was so happy to see us,
he gave us few Khurma - sweet squishy delicious local fruits available in Georgia.

It was yumm.

Signaghi
On our way to Signaghi, we stopped at the Bodbe Monastery - a major pilgrimage site in Georgia. The smaller church nearer to the main road is more than a 1000 years old - and the inside is beautiful. It's a must visit church.
Signaghi is called the 'city of love' - with neat cobbled streets and lovely homes on both sides. The town did have a romantic feel and our guide told us that in the summer, this is a popular wedding location.
Signaghi is surrounded by a fortress which protected the town for several centuries. We walked upto the fortress - and the view is stunning.
Eat: There's a great cafe called Nikala and I had a great vegetarian sizzler. And an even better Georgian lemonde. There are other eateries there - where you can also do wine tasting.

Bodbe monastery - this is the newer construction - in fact still under construction.

Signaghi - the city of love.

Handmade.

I love this photo - there was something surreal and romantic that was happening here.

Georgia lost a significant portion of its population during world war II - and this wall memorial pays a tribute to those lost. If you look closely, you can see names of all those deceased.

Cars made during the Soviet era, stronger than any made now.

Gurjaani
I have always wanted to catch a glimpse of how people live - not in tourist places, but in normal cities. I like seeing students go to school, daily commuters, people dressed in suits, colleges goers giggling in Starbucks - all of that. So when our guide told us we will be going to a residential city of Gurjaani to a local's wine cellar - I was quite excited. We stopped at a lovely home and a local explained the wine making process inside a cellar. We even tasted different wines and the local chacha which was really strong.

Inside the wine cellar - drinking some wine.

Telavi
It had been a long day, we had driven really far, to realise that the sun was setting, and it was getting dark. Our guide, Anri kept saying there was something he wanted to show us. We went to see the giant plane tree - a 900 odd year old tree. It was supposedly an attraction - but, it was the view of the mighty gorgeous Caucassian mountains that got me totally awestruck. The glow of the setting sun on the snow capped mountains was one of the most beautiful sights in Georgia.
Eat: We stopped at Rosata - an eateria near the city centre and I had the best vegetarian pizza there. Lovely people, lovely food.

That after glow.

Ruined cars that once served as cars for VIPs during the soviet era.

We visited the local market in Telavi - a lovely experience.

We had contacted a tour company via the internet but I suggest you use one of the several tour operators you'll find near Chardin Street - as it's a lot cheaper. And the car / driver are pretty much the same. Trips will cost you around 150 - 200 LARI - and are totally worth it.

Tips:

  • If you're going in the winter, it is a lot chillier than it looks. Carry sufficient warm clothes - complete with gloves, hoodies, a scarf and boots.
  • Carry something to nibble in the car - along with drinking water. Also carry tissue and other usual stuff you'd carry during a road trip.
  • Don't be shy to ask to stop when you see something you like, even if it is to talk to locals.
  • Carry cash as the ATMs are few and far in between once you leave the city.
  • Vegetarian can heave a sigh of relief - there are lots of veg dishes that are the favourites of locals - including kachaburi - do try it.
  • Try the local fruit - but it's quite a messy eat - there - you've been warned.
  • I recommend to not go all the way to Telavi during this trip - it is too tiresome - although the view is gorgeous.
  • There is a point - most guides will stop here - from where you can see the mighty Caucass - behind which on the left side is Russia and on the right side is Azerbaijan. It's a beautiful feeling.


Writing about Georgia makes me miss my holiday. I hope you guys travel to this beautiful country. Let me know what you think in the comments below xx

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