Georgia Bucket List


How many times, in how many ways, can one extol the diversity of this fantastic little country? In landscapes, climates, flora and fauna; in foods, languages, dialects, costumes, songs, customs; in who has invaded it and/or completely destroyed Tbilisi over the centuries and millennia. I’m coming up on my 20th anniversary of living here, but there are still so many things I want to see and experience here.

Ballooning. Thankfully, this is now a thing you don’t have to go to Cappadocia in Turkey for, although they have it down to a science in those magically sculpted sandstone landscapes. So much here, too, to see from the air for the first time! A drone would also be great, but there’s nothing like GOING there yourself, up.

Paragliding, IF I can safely use my camera while doing so with a pilot controlling the thing!

More ancient monuments: Nikortsminda in Racha, Didgori near Orbeti, Omalo and Mutso just south of Chechnya, all of Abkhazia. Adishi in Svaneti. More trails there too, and more ways of seeing Mt. Ushba up close from different angles.

Snorkeling or actual scuba diving in the Black Sea.

More wildlife in the wild: mountain goats and sheep, bears, wolves, foxes, the great raptors, hoopoes.

More waterfalls. More lakes with their possibilities for reflections.

More practitioners of old folk art and traditions: cooking, wood and stone work, song, painting, sculpture.

More ancient manuscripts and icons, mostly well preserved in the museums of Tbilisi as well as in regional ones and even small village churches.

More art and design in the hip, cool, fascinating city that Tbilisi has become.

More exhibitions of my own photographs from the last two decades, in my own home and elsewhere too…

More words and phrases in Svan, which makes Georgian look as easy as Georgian makes Russian look. At least I’m in the right place for it.

To see how the hugest clay qvevrebi, the wine amphorae a person can fit into, are made, dried and fired, mostly in and around Shrosha, near the Rikoti Pass between east and west Georgia. I was once a potter, many years ago in Canada, and would love to explore more of the craft here. Does anyone work with the higher-firing stoneware and porcelain?

Also, to see how embossed copper and silver sheet work is done in making icons and modern pictures.

Ditto for the almost microscopically detailed enamel jewelry for which Georgia is famous.

More understanding of how local flora are used in traditional medicines and health-ways.

Continual honing of my work as a photographer and a writer, through practice. Georgia inspires me like nowhere else in the world has, although I’ve found beauty everywhere I’ve gone.

The experience of this country somehow reconciles its most ancient and venerable ways and traditions with the pressures and changes that the 21st century is bringing, without tearing itself apart. We may not please everyone, are unlikely to, but we’re not an island; indeed, we say we want into some of the outside world’s clubs, where things can be very different… Peace with our neighbors, especially those which have dominated or nearly destroyed us in former empires. Peace with ourselves!

I hope to live to cross off the whole list. Some of these things may take decades and more, but we will see. One thing is sure: Georgia has my heart.

Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with nearly 2000 members, at

He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:

By Tony Hanmer

07 November 2019 18:18