GET­TING THERE

Ju­dith Baker in­dulges in feast­ing and spas in the for­mer Soviet Ge­or­gia

The Jewish Chronicle - - Life/travel -

STRETCH­ING FROM The Black Sea to the Cau­ca­sus Moun­tains and ly­ing on the cusp of Chris­tian Europe and Is­lamic Asia, Ge­or­gia is an en­chant­ing mix of old and new, with a pretty land­scape that com­bines moun­tains and a pretty coast­line.

In the space of just a few days you can ski in the moun­tains, swim in the Black Sea and em­brace an amaz­ing cul­ture in the churches, cas­tles and cave-towns, en­joy­ing de­li­cious cui­sine, fab­u­lous wines and over­whelm­ing Ge­or­gian hos­pi­tal­ity.

This tiny, de­vel­op­ing coun­try has re­mained largely un­ex­plored by west­ern trav­ellers, yet it is no stranger to vis­i­tors. Dur­ing a long and fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory there have been in­flu­ences from all over the world and has been tra­versed by many routes in­clud­ing the Silk Road.

In an­cient mythol­ogy, this is where Jason and the Arg­onauts sought The

FLIGHTS: Bri­tish Mid­land In­ter­na­tional. Bmi, flies be­tween Lon­don Heathrow and Tbil­isi three times per week. Fares from £526 re­turn. Cana­dian-based Kenn Borek Air flies Tbil­isi to Mes­tia and Tbil­isi to Ba­tumi. Prices start from around £30 per flight

WHERE TO STAY: Hol­i­day Inn, Tbil­isi £105 ap­prox for king sized room (not in­clud­ing Break­fast) InTourist Palace, Ba­tumi £109 ap­prox for stan­dard Room (in­clud­ing Break­fast) Golden Fleece that would en­able him to be­come king.

There is no deny­ing Ge­or­gia’s tur­bu­lent past — in 1991, Ge­or­gia se­cured its in­de­pen­dence af­ter 70 years of Soviet rule: more re­cently there was con­flict with Rus­sia over the dis­puted prov­ince of South Os­se­tia. But there is no ev­i­dence of dan­ger in the quaint streets and cafes of Tbil­isi, the peace­ful moun­tains of Kakheti or the semitrop­i­cal sea­side re­sort of Ba­tumi.

Leg­end has it that at the be­gin­ning of time when God was giv­ing out land to the na­tions of the world the Ge­or­gians were too busy drink­ing to at­tend. Ar­riv­ing late, God was an­gry and asked why they had dis­hon­oured him so; there was now no land left to give them. But the Ge­or­gians replied that far from dis­hon­our­ing God they were late be­cause they were drink­ing to His health and this took some time. God was pleased by their an­swer and so gave them the tiny bit of land he had been keep­ing for him­self.

Af­ter en­joy­ing a Ge­or­gian style lunch at Lake Kvareli the fa­ble is al­most be­liev­able. The meal or ‘Supra’

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