It had been almost 4 years since I last went on a holiday. The main reason we hesitated over the last year or so, was that my younger son was less than 2 years old, and keeping him entertained while away from home would be a task. My elder son really wanted to experience a flight and the taking-off and landing.
I had heard of a lot of people travelling to Georgia lately and knew it appealed to a lot of friends as it was free entry for Indians living in the UAE.
So, in March 2017, we decided to plan a short trip for the spring break, and Georgia was on of the places that stood out due to lack of time for Visa application procedures. We did all our airline and hotel bookings less than a week before departure! That left me with very less time to pack for the kids and us, keeping in mind that it was quite cold in Georgia. My sister-in- law was going along with us too, and my elder son was really excited for the whole trip.
Finally, the day of departure arrived. The Fly Dubai flight from Dubai to Tbilisi was short (3 hours and 30 minutes) and comfortable. I had ensured to pack enough entertainment for the kids for the flight, like coloring pages and crayons, stickers, books to read, their favorite toy cars, etc.
We landed at Tbilisi International Airport and took a taxi straight to Telavi, a small city in the Kakheti region of Georgia, which is also one of the most popular wine-producing regions in Georgia. We stayed at the Schuchmann Wines Chateau and Spa, which is a 20-room countryside hotel, offering comfortable rooms and warm hospitality. This hotel was one of the highlights of the trip for me. The lobby, which is a part of the only restaurant in the hotel, had a cozy fireplace, the garden overlooked snow-covered mountains and had a mini-golf area along with children’s play area. The Schuchmann Wine Spa had some amazing treatments to suit various needs of its guests. I tried a local mud mask and massage treatment, which included a Wine bath. Yes, imagine laying in a tub full of red wine for 20 minutes! I felt rejuvenated and refreshed after a long time.
Unfortunately, we visited at the end of Winter so we couldn’t see grapevines and greenery around us. We did get a tour of the winery and a wine-tasting session by the staff, complimentary along with our hotel stay.
After two days in Telavi, we headed back to Tbilisi, where we were to spend the next four days at the City Avenue Hotel in Agmashenebeli Avenue. The location was superb, as it was a busy street with numerous dining and retail options and very close to a Metro station. Most spots in the city were just a few minutes away by taxi.
On our first day in Tbilisi, we took a day trip to the Gudauri ski resort, which was a 2 hour drive away. We stopped at a few scenic spots and churches along the way. On reaching Gudauri, we took a cable car up to the mid-way point, where we were pleasantly surprised to see a children’s play area, complete with slides and swings, in the middle of a snow-covered mountain! We had carried a small sledge along with us from the bottom of the slope, and the kids had a great time for the next 2 hours. It was a wonderful and memorable experience, especially for my 4-year old, to see snow for the first time!
On our second day in Tbilisi, we did a city tour and visited places like the Turtle Lake (where we hired a paddle boat – another first for the kids), the Ethnographic museum of Georgia, took the aerial tramway to the top of a mountain to see Narikala, or the Mother of Georgia statue (from the lookout point here you get views of the entire city), took a stroll around Rike park and the Bridge of Peace, and finally took a funicular ride up a mountain to the Mtsminda amusement park. Sadly, it was a bit too cold on this particular day, which dampened the fun we could have had.
On our third and final day in Tbilisi, we decided to take it easy and explore the city like locals. We took a metro ride (which we were surprised to find, is really cheap) and went to the popular Freedom Square for lunch and explore a bit of the area, before heading back to our hotel.
A point to note is that, being vegetarians, we had no problems getting good food everywhere we went. We really enjoyed trying Georgian cuisine, especially the Kachipuri, and Georgian wines.
Language is an issue there, as most locals do not speak or understand English. However, hotel staff are friendly and we managed our way around.
Overall, we had a great trip in Georgia, even with a two-year old and a 4-year old in tow. I would love to go back with my parents and in-laws, maybe during the Summer months. It was a most memorable trip for me, especially as it was our first as a family of four!