Would you take your kids to a war-torn country on holiday?
Well, that was the reaction from anybody and everybody that I met when I told them we were going to Georgia (Republic) with our three kids aged 5,9 and 13.
Most people haven’t heard of the Republic of Georgia. They assume you are going to Atlanta! But in fact, we were going to Georgia, an independent country in the Caucasus, straddling Europe and Asia.
More than that – Georgia has had a miserable time since the breakup of the old Soviet Union. Once the jewel in the crown, with its incredible beaches, mountains and culture, Georgia in the past twenty years has suffered civil wars, as well as most recently in 2008, a full-scale war with Russia.
So who goes there, and more importantly, why?
The why for me was easy enough – people who lived in the Soviet Union speak nostalgically about their vacation in Georgia – I had an old friend who spoke about the wonderful food, great people, terrific beaches, incredible skiing, you name it. So I wanted to go. Could 200 million people be so wrong? Because of its shattered recent history, Georgia had become a destination only for intrepid backpackers and adventurers. I’m kind of intrepid, but would it really be a place to take the kids to? Its famous tourist industry had suffered dramatically, but, more and more, people were going, with families as well. I had two guidebooks for help, and the internet.
We decided to go, overland from Turkey.
Turkey today is a modern, very first world country. The Turkish border was efficient, and we were soon into the no-mans land between the two countries. We quickly realised that we had left the glass and steel first world behind, as we lined up between chicken wire on the one side and stern looking border guards on the other. They quickly stamped us in, and we walked into Georgia. The first thing we saw were a line of beaten up taxis, and we found one very quickly and negotiated a ride to nearby Batumi.
Within a few minutes, we were driving along the Georgian coast towards Batumi.
PS: These days I am planning great family trips to destinations on five continents. Click here for more info.