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Would you go to Tbilisi, Georgia right now? (protests against Russia)

Would you go to Tbilisi, Georgia right now? (protests against Russia)

Old Jun 28, 19, 2:41 am
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Would you go to Tbilisi, Georgia right now? (protests against Russia)

We have tickets to head to Tbilisi for about a week starting in a couple weeks.

Been reading about the protests and the retaliations from Russia.

Trying to decide if we should change plans...
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Old Jun 28, 19, 3:11 am
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Originally Posted by kokonutz View Post
We have tickets to head to Tbilisi for about a week starting in a couple weeks.

Been reading about the protests and the retaliations from Russia.

Trying to decide if we should change plans...
Which retaliations? Sure, the Russians are fooling around with Georgian wine imports and have stopped flights to Georgia from their country. But these measures should not affect you as a traveller unless you might be booked on an Aeroflot ticket to Tbilisi.

I don't see these protests of any different than ones frequently occurring in cities like Athens or Paris. Key is just to avoid the hot spot - which is the country's parliament where the protests are being held (and occasional violence used by the cops against the protesters). Use common sense like avoiding protests - especially so at night - and you will be absolutely fine. Georgia is an amazing country with great food, sights, scenery and hospitality. I'm sure you will have a great time.

FWIW, the Georgian police are nowadays fully reformed and trustworthy as former President Mikhail Saakashvili sacked the entire force a decade or so ago as corruption was endemic. He then basically hired an all-new force during his reign, mostly of people from a younger generation with a more modern mindset. Patrol cars and buildings were renewed too, so you will find smart American looking police cars and police stations made out of glass to symbolise transparency. If you talk with locals - even Saakashvili-critics of whom there are many - you will hear that they all unanomously agree that the police reform was a widely popular measure which is well-regarded and actually worked. As a tourist, you will therefore not have nothing to fear from any police violence unlike what these protesters are facing from anti-riot police.
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Old Jun 28, 19, 3:34 am
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Originally Posted by Romanianflyer View Post
Which retaliations? Sure, the Russians are fooling around with Georgian wine imports and have stopped flights to Georgia from their country. But these measures should not affect you as a traveller unless you might be booked on an Aeroflot ticket to Tbilisi.

I don't see these protests of any different than ones frequently occurring in cities like Athens or Paris. Key is just to avoid the hot spot - which is the country's parliament where the protests are being held (and occasional violence used by the cops against the protesters). Use common sense like avoiding protests - especially so at night - and you will be absolutely fine. Georgia is an amazing country with great food, sights, scenery and hospitality. I'm sure you will have a great time.

FWIW, the Georgian police are nowadays fully reformed and trustworthy as former President Mikhail Saakashvili sacked the entire force a decade or so ago as corruption was endemic. He then basically hired an all-new force during his reign, mostly of people from a younger generation with a more modern mindset. Patrol cars and buildings were renewed too, so you will find smart American looking police cars and police stations made out of glass to symbolise transparency. If you talk with locals - even Saakashvili-critics of whom there are many - you will hear that they all unanomously agree that the police reform was a widely popular measure which is well-regarded and actually worked. As a tourist, you will therefore not have nothing to fear from any police violence unlike what these protesters are facing from anti-riot police.
Thanks. This is precisely the perspective I was looking for.

We have read and heard great things about Georgia and are really looking forward to our visit (including some wine tastings, naturally!).

Any 'must-do' recommendations?
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Old Jun 29, 19, 5:40 am
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Here is the state department link. https://travel.state.gov/content/tra...Georgia.html#/

Only you can decide what your tolerance for risk is. I have traveled to places where there were demonstrations and been fine. However, it does put a certain edge to things.
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Old Jun 29, 19, 10:12 am
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Originally Posted by dlffla View Post
Here is the state department link. https://travel.state.gov/content/tra...Georgia.html#/

Only you can decide what your tolerance for risk is. I have traveled to places where there were demonstrations and been fine. However, it does put a certain edge to things.
The State Department needs to start issuing warnings about danger levels within the US.
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Old Jun 29, 19, 4:29 pm
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Originally Posted by kokonutz View Post
Thanks. This is precisely the perspective I was looking for.

We have read and heard great things about Georgia and are really looking forward to our visit (including some wine tastings, naturally!).

Any 'must-do' recommendations?
I have quite some! It all basically depends on your preferences (are you into cities, food, nature/hiking, history etc) and amount of time you have/how you plan to travel. You don't mind making a tour around the country? Want to base yourself in just 1-2 places at most?

The following would be my recommendations. There are more than these however – just the list below is based on places I actually visited myself.

- Tbilisi. Obviously a lot to do, see, eat and drink. For the city proper I would recommend two days.
- Stepantsminda (still better known under its old name Kazbegi). If travelling by own transport, you can also stop halfway on the road there at Ananuri, a castle with a grand lake view. Otherwise take a marshrutka in the early morning from Didube bus station to Kazbegi as it would be hard to arrange a stop. In Kazbegi hike (or even take a 4WD taxi ride up - although you miss part of the excitement) to the lovely Gergeti Trinity Church. This church features on almost every guidebook and promotion leaflet of Georgia so you are bound to have seen this. It's a spectacular mountaintop church with grand views over 5,000+ metres high mountains. Can be done as a day trip from Tbilisi, but leave early in morning (7-8am) if doing it by public transport.
- Mtskheta, laid-back town at a river confluence. Visit Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and then take a cheap taxi (or own car) for a few kilometres up to hilltop Jvari Monastery, which has a great view overlooking the confluence of two rivers.
- Gori. Not much to do/see, but it has the Stalin Museum which is pretty cool.
- Uplistsikhe (some 10km out of Gori). This is an ancient cave city carved out of the rocks - spectacular on a nice day! Note that Mtskheta, Gori and Uplistsikhe are basically all in the same direction and not far from each other. If leaving early it can be done in a (long) day trip from Tbilisi, especially so if having your own wheels. Otherwise transport by marshrutka is pretty reliable here apart from Uplistsikhe for which you must take a taxi from Gori.
- Sighnaghi. Heart of Georgian wine country, the scenery reminds at times of Tuscany! Easy place for some tasting – picturesque town too! If taking public transport ask where it goes from these days - as if I remember correctly it wasn't the main Didube station but a smaller lot next to a different metro station in Tbilisi.
- David Gareja monastery, a rock-hewn Georgian Orthodox monastery complex. Even though not far from Tbilisi (less than 100km) it feels remote. The unpaved access road (gravel, fine with 2WD) reminded me more of driving through Central Asian steppes! Both David Gareja and Sighnaghi can be done as day trips from Tbilisi. Heck, I even managed both on the same day with public transport/taxi, taking first a marshrutka to Sighnaghi, then a taxi from there to David Gareja and back, to take an evening marshrutka back to Tbilisi. PS. Don't trust Google Maps on this if driving Sighnaghi-David Gareja yourself as they route you on a huge detour via Tbilisi while there is a direct, (mostly) unpaved road which is perfectly fine which you can take directly as well. If into wine this might however be better with an overnight in Sighnaghi.

Except of Sighnaghi (+ David Gareja) and Kazbegi these are all basically day trips from Tbilisi with no reason to stay overnight. These are relatively short distances and you can easily make it back before dinner to Tbilisi to enjoy the great dining/nightlife which Georgia's capital has to offer. Overnighting in Sighnaghi and/or Kazbegi (they are both in different directions) can however be recommended in certain cases, for example if you are into wine (Sighnaghi) or into mountains (Kazbegi) and want to do some longer hikes.

Places a bit further afield (not feasible as Tbilisi day trips) which I can also recommend:

- Kutaisi, Georgia's second largest city. The city is laid-back and has a few interesting sights, although I don't think it is anything special on its own. That said, there are some cool sights in the nearby area such as Motsameta monastery, Gelati monastery, the Sataplia Caves etc. making it worthwhile.
- Batumi. Great city for some seaside fun in subtropical settings (it has an unique micro climate). If you want to read more about this, check this trip report which I wrote about a visit last year. It also features Kutaisi.
- Mestia. Probably the best place in Georgia for mountain scenery/hiking. Has the best facilities as well for this, although the Kazbegi area I mentioned before isn't bad either (Rooms hotel in Kazbegi is nice). If you have time, visit both really as they are different. While Kazbegi has that lovely mountaintop church, the Mestia area has however something else which is unique: Svan culture and their awesome defensive towers. You can even make your way up to Ushguli – the highest permanently inhabited place in the wider-Europe region if you would include the Caucasus into the definition of that. Spectacular. I planned last year to do a loop by car Kutaisi-Ushguli-Mestia-Batumi-Kutaisi as I heard you can these days easily drive (4WD recommended) but unfortunately didn't end up doing due to some delays getting my expired driving licence renewed.

I think above is basically the best what Georgia has to over. When it comes to major sights which I haven't seen I think there is only the Borjomi-area/national park where I have never set foot, although that said, if you are into hiking/mountains there are dozens of other lesser known places which offer equally good opportunities (I would need to ask my Georgian friends for that however). But for a first time visitor, the above list is basically what you should look at!
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Last edited by Romanianflyer; Jun 29, 19 at 4:36 pm
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Old Jun 29, 19, 7:31 pm
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Old Telavi? Vahslovani Reserve? Don't forget eastern Georgia.

Georgia is one of 3 or 4 countries in the world that concentrate the essence of a continent (or here perhaps 2) in a small area, and as such would be amongst the places that you would have to recommend to a Tourist from Elsewhere just visiting Earth for a month.

As the Georgians themselves tell it, they only got it because they partied late the night before God handed out countries, and by the time they arrived, the allocations were all done. Embarrassed, God gave them a little piece he'd been holding back for himself. I'm not religious at all, but this story make sense.

In any case, go without hesitation, whenever and whatever. I've been there in rain and shine politically and the Georgians will look after you in a way that makes you embarrassed to be from anywhere else.

TM
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Old Jul 1, 19, 8:03 pm
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Originally Posted by Palal View Post
The State Department needs to start issuing warnings about danger levels within the US.
Perhaps if significant resistance to the current regime arises, they will.
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Old Jul 2, 19, 12:18 am
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Originally Posted by dlffla View Post


Perhaps if significant resistance to the current regime arises, they will.
Yup and that's a scary thought
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Old Jul 5, 19, 3:40 pm
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If anyone even suspects you are LGBT, or even support LGBT persons, you are in serious danger. The country is overrun by violent mobs right now. The police are useless too (In Batumi some visitors were beat nearly to death by some Georgian nationalists and the police response was to arrest the victims). If you are a group of the same sex, regardless of your actual orientation, Id seriously consider it.

If you are visibly straight, you might be okay, but visiting Georgia right now would be the same as inserting yourself into a group of violence talking Klansmen in West Virginia. If you fit a certain profile, youre probably okay, but do you really want to hang out with a bunch of people threatening extreme violence against people they consider outsiders?
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Old Jul 5, 19, 11:48 pm
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Aside from the perspective that Georgia may become sort of Ukraine 2.0 in relation to Russia I donŽt see any further reason not to go there.

Just keep in mind those general advises already given above and youŽll be fine.
@Romanianflyer perfectly summed it up.
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