Exploring the Republic of Georgia: Tbilisi and Gudauri Ski Resort
The Republic of Georgia is an Eye Opening Stunner! A Very Unique Destination, that’s Growing in Popularity
Since last Sunday January 31, I’ve been traveling, meeting friends and skiing in the Republic of Georgia, starting in the capital city of Tbilisi.
The group is called Traverse-Events, and for the past four years I’ve always joined the group of around 200-300 travel bloggers, videographers, YouTubers and others who gather for these stellar events. The reason it’s fun is that the same people usually join up and no one ever gets left behind. It’s ‘all of us having fun’ with no cliques. I love that.
I’ve been to Georgia before, back in 2015 on a government press junket. We drove way far, all the way to Svaneti, in one day, and also spent time in some of the same places as on this trip.
The tourism board often likes to stick to the same itineraries. For example there is a new train from Tbilisi to far-away Svaneti (8 tough hours), but the group is still driving there. I’m sure this will become a big tourist attraction in the years ahead.
The harrowing drive was made tolerable by me staying in the far back and avoiding looking at the scary road and trucks. It all worked out fine, as it usually does.
The skiing the first day at Gudauri was tough. There was a lot of fog and not enough skiers to flatten down the powder. So I did a quick faceplant only a few minutes in.
The following day dawned like it shows in the photo below, and the packed powder was magnificent, light and no moguls. Oh, and there are no trees anywhere to be seen here, making it easier but a bit harder to always follow the trails. The 5-day rentals cost me $US76 for everything, the lift tickets come out to be less then $US12. WOW!
Some of the differences we saw here were that snow grooming is a minimum, they cover a fraction of the mountain and don’t put in the many hours that resorts in the US and other places do. It’s easy to hit a patch of deceptively thick powder. At every area possible, hard liquor, wine and beer are sold, and everything is cheap. Really cheap. $5 beers at a ski area? Yup.
I joined a different trip after our conference and I joined 31 others traveling north to the Gudauri Ski Resort. Because of a rookie error on my first morning, I joined a group of regular folks (not with the conference) and I soon found I was driving about 3.5 hours north, ironcally, to this same ski resort.
The trucks along the route are infamous, it’s an almost never ending convoy of huge trucks heading north to Russia and south to the capitol. It’s a hard thing to see how badly these big trucks beat up the roads, the silver lining is that a Chinese company is building a 16-mile tunnel which will take all the trucks off this road and bypass the ski area. Thank God!
There are some things about the country that are legacies of the Soviet era, which until 1991 dominated the country. Today you’ll see a lot of anti-Russian graffiti yet many, many people here still speak Russian and there are many Russians here. A local told me that in February 2022 when the war began in Ukraine about 300,000 young Russian men came to Georgia.
But today there are only about 30,000 remaining, as apparently to the average Russian, Georgia is a backwater where they don’t want to live.