Forbes Gushes About Georgia

Forbes recently published an article titled Why Georgia (the Country) Belongs on Your Travel Wish List, by regular luxury travel contributor Ann Abel. She spent nine days in the country as a guest of the Georgian National Tourism Administration.

Abel writes about her time in Tbilisi, Sighnaghi, Borjomi, and Kazbegi. She calls Georgian food “superb. And wildly abundant,” and professes love for tonis puri (bread baked in a traditional tone oven) and cucumber-tomato salad. She raves about Tbilisi’s café and cocktail bar culture, and recounts a pleasant “stroll through the trendy neighborhood of Plekhanov, with its old-style houses, its lively Agmashenbeli avenue and the multifunctional Fabrika.”

While Abel clearly had a wonderful experience in Georgia, and saw the country’s appeal and strengths, the article did have several errors. She writes, “The word for a Georgian meal is supra, which is best translated as ‘feast.’” Supra does, in fact, translate to a feast, but it is not the word for a Georgian meal – a supra is a type of meal. In Georgian, the word used for meal is most often sachmeli, which simply means food. She also includes a photo of the Golden Tulip Hotel in Borjomi, which is a stunningly beautiful building, but does not reflect the architectural traditions of Georgia or the Borjomi region as it was originally built in 1892 by the consul of Iran to Russia, Mirza-Reza Khan and called “Firouze.” It was a vacation home for the consul, which included spa elements, and is now considered one of Georgia’s most unique cultural monuments of the 19th century. Golden Tulip is now decorated in a clean, modern mixture of Persian, European and Georgian styles.

Abel marvels at Georgia’s long tradition of winemaking, saying there is “evidence of viniculture stretching back more than 7,000 years” – 8,000 years to be exact, as reported by the BBC.

About the capital, she writes, “It is one of the few cities left in the world that feels like absolutely nowhere else. I saw one Wendy’s and one Dunkin' Donuts, but that was it for globalization.” Abel clearly stayed only on the path laid for her by the tourism administration – Georgia is home to no less than 18 Dunkin Donut shops (15 in Tbilisi), and the largest Wendy’s in the world is in Saburtalo near Heroes’ Square! It seems she also missed the McDonalds, Domino’s Pizza, and KFC – plus Starbucks plans to finally make its entrance to the market soon. She calls Dry Bridge “the massive Saturday flea market” although its vendors operate daily.

While those unfamiliar with Georgia or the post-soviet space in general may benefit from seeing Georgia for the first time through a narrow, guarded, lens, the reality of the country is much more complex, gritty, multifaceted, and better than what a week hitting the prepacked tourist highlights will expose


By Samantha Guthrie

Photo: Ann Abel

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02 July 2018 19:15