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Gadauri-I fell in love with the Snow

Gadauri-I fell in love with the Snow

Finally, my wish for seeing the snow was turning into reality.  We were all set for our trip to Gadauri on our second day in Georgia. We started at 9 AM after the complimentary breakfast at our hotel. Gadauri is a ski resort located around 2 hours away from Tbilisi. The temperature there was estimated around 1 degree C without snowfall.  We both were fully decked up in our winter suits. Our first stop was Jinvali water reservoir, which is on the way to Gadauri.

Jinvali/Zhinvali reservoir

Jinvali/Zhinvali is an artificial reservoir located on the river Aragvi. It provides Tbilisi with drinking and utility water.The reservoir was only half filled as it was still winter in Georgia. It reaches its full capacity in spring, melt once all the snow from the mountains melts. After few pictures, we headed to Ananuri Castle Complex.

Ananuri Fortress
Ananuri Fortress
Ananuri Fortress
Square tower
Church,Ananuri Fortress

The entrance to the fortress is free. The Ananuri castle complex consists of a fortress and two churches.  The fortress is on the UNESCO tentative list for the world heritage sites.  The construction of this fortress dates back to 13th century. It was a beautiful structure. There was a small underground tunnel too. We went up the square tower for some snaps . The steps were too narrow and the landing at each floor was made of wood and too rickety. It was a kind of adventure going on to the top :P. Later, we visited the church in the complex. Once outside, we took some snaps of the amazing landscape and started towards Gadauri.

Inside the church
Ananuri Castle
Ananuri Fortress

First glimpse of Snow
View from the highway

Around half an hour later, we had our first glimpse of snow.Yayy!! I was thrilled beyond words. As we moved ahead, we could see entire mountains covered in snow.Indeed a mesmerizing and an unforgettable view. When we reached Gadauri at around 12 PM, it started to snow (Thank God for fulfilling all my wishes that day :)) Then we quickly had our lunch at a local restaurant there ( some soups, Pizza, and lemonades). The plan was to spend the rest of the day there. There were options for skiing, paragliding and helicopter ride.Well, we did not opt for any of them but took a chairlift to take us to the 2nd level. Unfortunately for us, we were unaware that there are many levels that the chairlift could take you (5 I suppose), but since Sandro took just one ticket each, we couldn’t go up any further.

View on the way

Level 2 was breathtaking enough. It was totally covered in snow and we both were freezing in spite of all the winter wear. There was a restaurant, Vitamin, which we visited for some hot coffee. Once we were feeling warm enough, we went on to explore the place. Well, there was pretty much nothing to explore, but for the infinite stretch of snow and people skiing around. It took some time for the awesomeness to sink in 🙂 I was in love with the snow, the view and the mountains. After spending 2 hours literally doing nothing (jumping around in knee deep snow), we took the chairlift back to the level 0.

The view <3
All the snow

All the snow
Restaurant-Vitamin
Chairlift
View from the chairlift ride

We started for Tbilisi at around 4 PM and reached our hotel by 5:50 PM. Later we realized that we missed a visit to Russian-Georgian friendship monument which was a bit far from the resort area :(After a quick change( I hadn’t realized my socks and trousers were wet because of snow ), we decided to explore the city and grab some dinner.

The city looked very beautiful in the twilight. As we walked, we found a tattoo studio. I had been long planning to get a second tattoo done. Until that day, I was not sure of what the tattoo would be. At that moment, it had to be a snowflake. I was totally and irrevocably in love with the snow *blush*. That was my first travel tattoo 🙂  We were surprised when we saw the Georgian tattoo artists watching a Telugu Movie. Later we got to know that one of them had worked in Tollywood industry and had widely traveled across India.  50 laris and 20 minutes later, we were back exploring the streets of Tbilisi.

Amazing architecture
Some building
Main street, Tbilisi
My snowflake tattoo

We had our dinner in one of the Indian restaurants and headed back to the hotel for a quick nap.  Our driver picked us up at 2:30  as our flight was for 4:40 AM.  We were back in Dubai at 8 AM, the next day. That was the end of a memorable and awesome journey.

dubai
A day in Tbilisi-Georgia

A day in Tbilisi-Georgia

We boarded our flight from Dubai International airport, Terminal 2 at 12:10 am. As it was a direct flight, we reached Tbilisi at 4:40 am. Tbilisi international airport is a small airport and we quickly cleared our immigration and the security check and were out of the airport by 5:00 AM and geez! it was very cold outside (6 degrees C).

Air route DXB-TBS
First View of the city-Tbilisi

The driver was already waiting for us and we quickly left from the airport. We had a hard time finding our hotel and finally checked in at around 6:30 AM. After a quick nap till 9:30 AM we woke up for a sumptuous English breakfast.

At 11 AM we started our Tbilisi city tour with our local guide, Sandro. Our first stop was Mtatsminda Amusement park on the top of Mount Mtatsminda. The entry to the park is free, but for rides, we have to recharge a card available at Kiosk. Hubby and I went for the giant wheel ride (1 Lari per person-Minimum 8 Lari is to be recharged) The view was just breathtaking. We took several snaps at the amusement park and headed towards the main city.

Mtatsminda Amusement park -the entrance
City View from Mount Mtatsminda

Our next stop was Holy Trinity cathedral.  This place is also called as Sameba. It is the main Georgian Orthodox Cathedral and is the third-tallest Eastern Orthodox Cathedral in the world. Sameba was constructed between 1995 and 2004.We lighted candles that are sold within the church complex.Here we encountered an elderly gypsie woman asking us for Lari, unfortunately, we did not have change, and the woman started yelling at us in Georgian 😛  Sandro had to interfere and send her away.

Holy Trinity Cathedral -Sameba

This was followed by lunch in one of the local restaurants. We tried Khachapuri, veggie pizza, Georgian lemonades, khinkali.The local cuisines include meat and chicken. Since we don’t eat beef, we ordered the chicken counterparts of Khachapuri and Khinkali. We tried the local beer but did not like it much.

Veggie pizza, khinkali, Georgian lemonades and Khachapuri

After the yummy lunch, we went on to visit the sulfur baths and a hidden waterfall in Abanotubani. The water was really cold .There was also a bridge full of love locks 🙂 We too added a love lock on the bridge. Then we proceeded to Metekhi Cathedral which is on top of a hill overlooking the Mtkvari River.

Sulfur baths of Tbilisi- On the top is the church of the Narikala fortress
A waterfall at Abanotubani

 

Lovelock Bridge
Metekhi Cathedral
Inside the Matekhi church

Later we took an aerial cable car which connects the Rike Park on the left bank of the Mtkvari river with Narikala Fortress. This ride just cost us 1 Lari. We could have the 360-degree view of Tbilisi. The ride is for 2-3 minutes and then we reached the Narikala fortress. The fortress was said to be established in 4th century BC. We walked around 1.5 KM to see the Mother of Georgia Statue. It was an incredibly beautiful statue. She had a sword in one hand and a chalice of wine in other. The sword was to defend the country from the enemies and the wine is a peace offering to all the friends of the nation. Also, there is a church within the fortress complex. One needs to wear a headscarf and a skirt( available outside the church) to visit inside.

City view from the fortress
Narikala Fortress
Mother of Georgia

We came back to the Rike park by the aerial cable and then went to see the bridge of Peace, situated over the Kura River in downtown Tbilisi. It is a pedestrian bridge of around 150m and very near to the aerial cable station. The modern architecture of the bridge was quite a contrast to locations we visited, which were truly ancient.

Bridge of Peace

[caption id="attachment_181" align="aligncenter" width="580"]

[caption id="attachment_200" align="aligncenter" width="580"] Freedom Square

Our Health chart for the day.  Phew!!

We were already exhausted beyond words. It was almost 6 PM and we decided to end our city tour. We stopped by at the freedom square for a couple of photos and then reached our hotel. We were too tired to even walk or talk. Hubby ordered some local wine and some Biriyani for dinner. It was a great day in Tbilisi and I loved it. 

Cheers!!

Georgia-Some facts and tips

Georgia-Some facts and tips

Before leaving for Georgia, I had done a fair amount of research about the country. I would like to write about it along with some of my personal experiences in this post.

To begin with, Georgia the country is situated in the Caucasus Region — the boundary between Asia and Europe made up of Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Eastern Turkey, Southern Russia and Northern Iran.

Quick facts:

Capital city: Tblisi

Currency:  Georgian Lari (GEL)( 1 Lari = 1.5 AED= 0.4 USD)

Language: Georgian

Georgians call their country Sakartvelo.

Temperature: An average temperature in summer ranges from 32 °C to 35 °C, and in winter – from 1.5 °C to 3 °C.

Tbilisi was founded in the 5th Century.

Georgia got independence from the Soviet Union in the year 1991.

Majority of the population practice orthodox Christianity

Since our tour was only for two days, we only carried the essentials. Even though it was the third week of March, the AccuWeather predicted the temperature to be as low as 6 degrees C in Tbilisi and -5 degrees C in Gadauri.  Make sure you check the weather conditions beforehand.

The winter jacket, thermals, gloves, beanies, muffler scarfs and the leather boots are a must to survive the snow :)Passport, Air tickets and hotel reservation printouts are also required and it may be asked at immigration both in Dubai and Tbilisi airports.Since Dubai residents have visa on arrival facility to Georgia, E-Visas are not required.

5 Laris and few Tetris

It is better to carry some USD and convert it to Lari (GEL) in Georgia. The exchanges outside the airports give better conversion rates. USD to GEL has higher equivalent than AED to GEL.

But immigration officials may ask if you have enough currency (Did not happen with us) In case they do, it will be ok to show them the USD, around 500 GELs, and credit cards.

Cost of living in Georgia is way too lesser thaDubai. A lunch for 4(Us, our local guide and the driver) cost us just 57 Laris (. We spent 200 USD in two days (including lunch, dinner, wine for friends, a tattoo, mementos, rides etc)

It is absolutely necessary to bring Universal Adapters as all places in Georgia have two pin plug points

(type C or F), while in Dubai, we have 3 pins. Also, strange thing I noticed is their switches. It works the other way round. (Your ‘ON’ is their ‘OFF”).

We did not find it necessary to buy a local SIM card.Airport, hotel and restaurants have free wifi and it wasn’t a problem to use Skype, Instagram and Whatsapp.

My first impression of Georgian people was they were very laid back and cool. The elders looked a bit unfriendly. That is maybe because most of them do not speak English. The younger generation was friendly and spoke English perfectly fine.I was amazed to find a number of Indian Resturants in Tbilisi.

Sandro (our guide) told us that many Indians have bought land in Georgia and are into agriculture and farming.

One must be careful of the gypsies in Tbilisi. Right from the airport, we were badgered by them. They send their kids to beg the tourists for few Laris. If you refuse to give them any money, they start pulling your jackets and pant! On our way back, the police had to interfere to save us from them.

Georgian wine

Georgia is also called the cradle of wine. Their wine making techniques are centuries old. We purchased one bottle of Red Wine for 12 Laris. It was totally tasty. They have a famous spirit called ChaCha, which has 40%-65% alcohol.

Tourists who are getting wine to Dubai have to check how many liters are permissible. Since we had 7kg luggage limit in FlyDubai, we purchased 4 liters of wine from Duty-free. It came a bit costly but totally worth it 🙂

Last but not the least, carry a decent camera to capture the amazing views Georgia offers. Unfortunately for us, we had left our SLR back in Bangalore and had to capture all pictures in our iPhones.

Well! That’s  about it. Il be writing about our day in Tbilisi and Gadauri in my next blog 🙂

Cheers!

Georgia -The plan

Georgia -The plan

We were thinking of visiting Georgia for a long time. I had seen several beautiful pictures of the place in friends’ FB pages.Also, I have never seen snow before (except for in snow city, Malaysia). So this was one of the must visit places in my mind.I had enquired about the trip with various travel agencies, but the plan was never really executed.
This weekend, hubby and I were a bit free (read he did not have any calls scheduled for Friday and Saturday!) and we decided to spend the weekend outside our home (for a change :|). Initially, the plan was a day trip to Musandam, but after several rounds of discussion, we finally decided to visit Georgia.Yayy!!

Fingers crossed we contacted the tour agency in Dubai on Wednesday and asked if they could book tickets for next day.(they were really surprised by our request).And finally we did manage to book our tickets for Thursday night and also the hotel reservation was also done for three days. The charges were bit overpriced, but it was solely because of our mistake of last minute booking.
I couldn’t help but jump with joy.

Visa was not an issue because UAE residents with valid passport and residence permit are allowed Visa on arrival in Georgia. By 5 PM on Wednesday we got our air tickets, hotel reservation vouchers and travel insurance by mail. We were all set to leave on Thursday night (12 o’clock in the night) from Dubai.
Since it was fly Dubai (cheapest flight available at such a short notice!) we had the luggage limit of only 7kg per person.

We are yet to shop for the necessities. Gadauri is a very cold place, so we are off to buy new jackets and shoes for me (he already has his winter wear)

Watch out for our upcoming blogs for our Georgia experience.