We’ve made it to Georgia! Home to Lay’s Potato Chips, southern hospitality and Coca-Cola. Oops, wrong Georgia. We’re actually in the country of Georgia in the South Caucasus. Depending on how you want to view it, you can make a case as to whether Georgia is in Europe, Asia or the Middle East. Having been ruled by different European and Asian powers for centuries (primarily Mongols, Arabs, Persians and Russians), it can legitimately claim to having a foot in all three camps. Geographically Georgia tends to placed in Asia, but culturally and due to the practising of Christian Orthodox religion, it definitely feels like Europe.
It’s been a bit of a mission getting from London to the capital city of Tbilisi. We had another 4am wake-up in order to catch the first train out of Brentwood to connect with the DLR tube to London City Airport to catch our flight. After the short hop to Amsterdam with KLM, we then transferred to a Georgian Airways flight, but someone forgot to tell our luggage, which instead decided to head to Poland. Someone obviously didn’t tell them that we aren’t due there for another month or so.
Of course on landing in Tbilisi airport we had an hour or so waiting for our luggage hoping it was going to turn up before finally traipsing over to the Lost Baggage Department to fill out all the necessary forms. Once again this reinforced the need to have all our super important stuff with us as carry on.
Thankfully, our pre-arranged Georgian driver, Zura, who was taking us to our next destination an hour and a half away, was still in the arrivals hall. What could have been a disastrous start to our trip in Georgia, is only annoying (although definitely more annoying for some of us than others!). Georgian driving on the way to Signaghi, where we’re first staying, is a little bit all over the place. Lada’s going 50kmph are passed by modern SUVs and BMWs doing 120kmph, often in the face of oncoming traffic, on roads designed for 90kmph. After a long day, I’m simply glad I’m not the one having to do the driving.
We hit it off straight away with Zura. In fairness, it’s pretty hard not to, when the guy picking you up is still waiting for you an hour and a half after your flight has landed. His CD collection of Metallica, Coldplay and Queen ensures we’ve also got some decent music to listen to on our trip. More importantly, there’s no white knuckled moments for us, as his chilled out nature means we cruise along at a safe and pretty constant speed.
Along the way Zura stops off for us in order to get supplies. Having missed dinner, we grab some pretzels and water for the kids and Zura kindly wanders over to get us some Georgian bread. I pick up a bottle of beer to wash it down with as bread sometimes can be pretty dry. At this stage, I think Veronica’s a bit annoyed at me and accuses me of liking the fact that our luggage has gone missing. I wouldn’t go that far, but I am a pretty simple person. I’ve got some food, a decent tasting beer and being driven by a guy who I’ve taken an instant liking to in a country I’ve never been to before. How can I not be smiling at this point?
Whilst losing our luggage isn’t exactly the best start to our stay in Georgia, I figure I can probably manage in the same clothes for a couple of days. As it turns out that is what I do, literally turning certain pieces of clothing inside out to make it last. Veronica, however, isn’t so keen and quickly arranges through our host, a quick fashion showing, so she can at least head out in clean clothes. The results? You can be the judge of that.
Emmy and Annabelle quickly adjust to having a new Russian Mum