Travelguide for Georgia, the Country

David Rich’s article on Georgia, the country, seems more like the perfect travelguide, recommending certain aspects of the country and giving tips on airlines as well as hotels. is a detailed article on the wonders of the country Georgia, from the wine, to caves, to weather, to museums.

The entire van, including the diminutive granny next to me, was uncorking bottles and my poor little cup was inundated, which meant the next two hours passed with a blur. I vaguely remember stops every half hour to purchase additional bottles, whole roast chickens, and fabulous Georgian bread hot from the kiln, shaped like a pig with two tails. We arrived in Tbilisi, I seem to recall, exceedingly happy.

Its tree-lined boulevards converged on an ancient town crammed with old churches and pointy towers bisected by a great river, the name of which I could never remember how to spell or pronounce: Mtkvari. This was typical of Georgia, which has a language similar to no other country on earth and uses an alphabet that looks faintly Thai, which is to say cursive lower case and incomprehensible to Westerners.

I’d suggest skipping the Stalin Museum in his hometown of Gori, Georgia, which chronicles his earliest roots from the rustic house he was born in to photos from a religious education at the Gori Seminary to the excellent railroad car he rode to Yalta to shape modern Europe along with Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The museum was a sickening eulogy to the rosy side of brutality, concealing the beast. The most satisfying exhibit was Stalin’s Death Mask.

Gori was partially redeemed by an ancient cave city ten miles (16 kilometers) east at Uplistsikhe, founded in 1000 B.C.E. and the residence of Georgian kings when the Arabs invaded, 150 caves remaining of an original 700.

In its heyday Vardzia housed 50,000 people, naturally centered on a church, that of the Assumption. Georgia’s most impressive and spiritual church is located at its ancient capital a few miles north of Tbilisi at Mkskheta, the grand Sveti Tskhoveli Cathedral built in 1010 on the site of the first Georgian Church founded in a very early century.