Acquainted to quarantine and curfew periods, and afraid of violating protocols and huge fines imposed by the government, we feel being locked up here in Middle East. The pandemic brought chaos to the world but in anyhow, it shows unique message in a positive way. The environment regenerates from pollution and my personal pocket heals from being empty because non-essential travels were ceased temporarily. Savings started to fill up gradually and spending unnecessary things are to be decided wisely.
After two years, we are finally out of our cave. Of course, going to my home country is a must. Unfortunately, flight to Manila is too expensive that it triples the cost. The quarantine period is too long and flights cancellation with reasonable reasons is always on the headlines. Evaluating everything led me to a certain decision…
I and my family, looked out for Georgia to spend the holidays because it is cheaper and not strict as long as travelers are vaccinated. Besides, visa to Georgia is to be waived if a Filipino citizen is residing in Gulf countries (GCC).
TRAVEL. From Middle East, several airlines has direct flight to Tbilisi. I booked Gulf Air as it offers the cheapest fare and flexible layover in Bahrain.
There are many tour operators in Georgia. Their credibility and positive reviews confirm that they satisfied their costumers. I preferred an operator which offering a private tour on daily basis. This is the cheapest option as each daily tour ranges from 85 USD to 105 USD for a small group. The tour will become private and exclusive. I can control the tour time frame and to avoid joining with other groups as much as possible (to avoid virus contamination). And the most tempting promotion for those tour operators is that payment can be made on arrival. So, there is no money involve while transacting with them online. Georgia Getaway Travel and Tours told us that the payment will be made after completing all tours. Such an amazing offers widened our smiles…
We landed in Tbilisi International Airport at 3pm, the biggest airport of Georgia. We directly headed to the immigration counter where an officer asked proofs of our residency in the Middle East before stamping our passports. I prepared all the documents needed such as health passport (vaccine status), translated residence card, insurances, hotel and tour bookings for it might be needed. However, she only requested the original and translated residence card. Then, here we are!!! Welcome to Georgia.
TBILISI. The chilling temperature welcomes us as we exit the airport. We met Achii, our tour agent and listened to his brief introduction about the country. Our excitement didn’t subside as we flows with traffics on the narrow streets of the city. Our hotel is only 20km from the airport but we consumed almost an hour before we reached it.
Georgia is indeed a Eurasian country. Its people are physically look like European but the culture is like Asian. This description is how a Georgian answered when we asked him, ” Is Georgia a European or Asian? “. Georgia bridges several countries as the only way to transport products from neighboring countries such as Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia. Orthodox Christianity is the major religion but there is freedom in terms of beliefs because of existence of other religions. Speaking of road freedom, I’ve seen left-driven car contesting with a right-driven car during rush hour. Both driven wheels are operational in Georgia.
Selecting a hotel in Tbilisi varies in every tourist’s personal reason. But for me, the hotel which offers panoramic views of the city is the eye catcher. Though, the room with city view is not guaranteed to be available but the possibilities is already at hand. I booked Urban Boutique Hotel because of its positive reviews. Its restaurant for complimentary buffet breakfast is located at the top floor entertaining every visitor’s eyes with the rising sun from the Caucasus mountain in the east and the awakening beautiful city at every 8am. Buffet breakfast is up to 11am but the restaurant is open until midnight.
(Travel in Georgia from December 23-30, 2021)