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