Give Ge­or­gia a try... rugby, tea and vin­tage wine

Irish Daily Mail - - Travel - BY JIM MURTY

TEA for two... but which tea to go for? There are five types. Th­ese peo­ple might just love tea more than the Ir­ish! I’m hav­ing green tea out of a glass pot with the Charge D’Af­faires at the Geor­gian Em­bassy in Dublin. As I stut­ter on his sur­name, Zurabashvili, he spares me my blushes by as­sur­ing me that Ge­or­gians have long names, and in­vites me to call him by his Chris­tian name. Ge­orge, nat­u­rally.

Those long names? Well, Ge­or­gians have three al­pha­bets with 33 let­ters in each, the one sin­gle case and no gen­ders... for ex­am­ple, women rulers are kings.

A lot to take in... be­fore we even get onto their his­tory at the cross­roads of Eu­rope and Asia and their re­cent past as part of the Soviet Union be­fore in­de­pen­dence. Although in fact they mark their cen­te­nary of mod­ern Ge­or­gia as the end of the First World War in 1918.

All very in­ter­est­ing but why is Ge­or­gia on our radar?

Well, they are pitch­ing to com­pete in an ex­panded Six Na­tions Rugby Cham­pi­onship – a Seven Na­tions, so if suc­cess­ful it would mean bi­en­nial trips to the na­tion’s cap­i­tal Tbil­isi. So what could we ex­pect? Well don’t worry, while Ge­or­gians do love their tea, like us they go in for some­thing a lot stronger.

Geor­gian wine is con­sid­ered the old­est in the world with clay ves­sels hav­ing been ex­ca­vated from thou­sands of years ago.

But why. I hear you ask, do they play rugby?

Well, long be­fore Wil­liam Webb El­lis picked up the ball in Rugby School the Ge­or­gians were play­ing a game called Lelo which is mighty sim­i­lar to our game and which was played be­tween vil­lages for beer.

If that’s not rea­son enough to ad­mit them to a Seven Na­tions I don’t know what is.

Turk­ish Air­lines (www.turk­ishair­ flies to Tbil­isi from Lon­don. If you find your­self sat next to me on the flight I’ll fill you in on more golden fleece Geor­gian pearls of wis­dom.

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