I just got back from exploring this fabulous, undiscovered corner of the world! Georgia and Armenia were both far more sophisticated than I ever imagined. I can’t believe no one visits these countries! They’re very unique and interesting destinations, being two tiny Christian countries surrounded by Muslim neighbours.
Georgia has a fascinating history, having been part of the USSR. Georgian monasteries were so ornate and filled with icons and worshippers. The mountains were beautiful.
The Georgian cuisine was far more eastern and Russian than I had imagined – borsch soup was on every menu, as were khinkali, dumplings with minced meat inside.
The Georgians LOVE wine! I found a great little family-run winery just outside Tbilisi which I will now incorporate on the tour, where they make the red wine in the traditional Georgian method, buried underground in terracotta pots.
Armenia has a complicated and sad history – with the genocide 100 years ago being one of the worst things to happen to them. But they’re a positive nation and their diaspora is wealthy and nationalistic – Yerevan, the capital, boasts sculpture parks, museums, an opera house etc, all donated to the city by wealthy Armenians in the diaspora.
Armenian food is similar to Turkish food, but more intricate, and with more diverse flavours. The Armenians also love a drink. My Guide told me that beer isn’t considered alcohol in Armenia – it’s put on the table with the soft drinks and water!
Highlights in Armenia were visiting the manuscript museum and the genocide museum, tasting the local brandy at the brandy factory (!!) and eating an incredible meal overlooking a valley after having visited a rock-cut monastery.
The Kackar Mountain region in Turkey – WOW!
This region is so different to the rest of Turkey as we know it. The hillsides are covered in tea plantations, and villagers bent over double harvesting the tea by hand.
Our hotel is a tiny little historic building in little Camlihemsin village, which is on a rushing river, and has a couple of bakeries (yes, I ate lots of the famous local Laz Boregi – custard pastry with walnuts and honey. YUM.), hole-in-the-wall shops etc. I did a trip up to Pokut Plateau, at around 2000 metres, where we did a hike – about 3 hours, not too difficult – stopping for a long lunch along the way. Scenery was spectacular, so this will now feature in the itinerary!
After having explored the region, I’ve revised the tour slightly so it now makes more sense, and also because I felt we needed more time in some places, and less time in other places. The revised itinerary is not quite on the website, so please contact me if you’d like me to email it to you!