Tbilisi has replaced Kyiv as a meeting point for biz meetings for European and Russian passport holders without the need for pre arranged Visas.( Russian males of military age are currently not welcome )
I adored Georgian wine and cuisine from my earliest travels to S.Russia's Black Sea resorts in the mid noughties and when a member decided to live here, I thought it would make a suitable replacement.
It has not disappointed.
Sochi is a hop over the Mountains by air, but my nutty colleagues decided to DRIVE!
Because of 'Abkhazia'..which Georgia claims is part of her territory and Russia recognises as a separate nation (but gives Russian passports) one cannot take the coastal route from Sochi via Sukhum(i) That would save nearly 50 percent in distance.
The journey was just under 1000km and some of the Russian roads were not covered with asphelt !
At the border it took over 2 hours to leave Russia and 2 minutes to enter Georgia, then a qick stop to buy insurance for the RU reg!d car...( 50 Gel).. c.$20 approx
The no man's land was only 1 km...much less than the RU-Finland border crossing I experienced in Dec '17
I travelled via Wizzair from Luton...the ticket with 10kg checked in hold luggage was £60))..The Irish chap sat next to me paid only £19 for carry on!
The flight is nearly six hours and goes to Kutaisi...mid way between Tbilisi and Batumi.
The airport is 20 mins from Kutaisi city and a coach costs 20 GEL..less than £6 to Tbilisi.
Then a15 min taxi ride to our apartment. When booked with the Bolt app it cost 10 GEL..less than £3 . It was my first trip in a Toyota Prius.
It was a mark2 ..an insurance write off from New Jersey, USA...Imported to Georgia, done up and cost the driver $4900 all in ( taxes and repair) a year ago.
It seemed v.solid and no rattles.
Toyota Prius seem to be 20 to 25 percent of vehicles on the road! Hybrids are BIG here.
Although we have the Russian vehicle, we use the Metro..which costs 14p (18 US cents ) per journey and one can transfer to a bus at no charge..if one transfers within 60 mins(?) it is considered a continuation of the journey and free.
One buys a metro card for 2 GEL and scan it on entering a bus.
Inspectors occasionally arrive and pick out folk at random to check the car was scanned or if one has bought a ticket!
I was here in March and was shocked to see so many RU reg'd cars...but it will soon be the Russian May holidays.
Generally, younger people speak English and over 40's Russian.
The relationship with Russia is complex .. The photo - overlooking the city's Botanic Park ( c.$1.5) says " Russian Occupiers"
Many - esp. younger people resent Russia occupying what THEY see as Georgia ( S.Ossetia and 'Abkhazia' ) and seek closer ties with the west and the EU
I am writing this as we await a delivery of our evening meal..delivery cost c. £1 ..There are 4 competing food courier firms and earing out here is so cheap, it makes cooking at home seem crazy.
Things to try...Tarragon 'ade' ..'Takhun' and Khachapuri... which makes pizzas seem boring.
The view from the top