We mostly stayed in the area of Imereti but also visited shortly Samegrelo. We arrived with Wizzair from Vienna to Kutaisi, a 3 hours flight and there we were. During our 5 days trip with our excellent guide Archil, owner of @exotic.georgia (Instagram) we had such an unforgettable adventure. We had a hard-core Jeep tour, mountain track of over 10 km, climbing, fishing, cooking masterclass, wine tasting and so much more. We stayed at an authentic guesthouse called Argo guesthouse about 15 Min. drive from the Kutaisi Airport. The owners were so kind. The food is Bio, fresh and delicious, the lady speaks fluently German, the rooms were clean and air-conditioned. I can highly recommend this place.
Every county I visit, I go to the local markets, away from the tourists and mingle with the locals to get a feel for the place. This little market exposed sadly but very clearly the bad economic situation, especially for the elderly. Old ladies were sitting there all day in the hot market hall selling their own produce, 1-2 bags of beets or green from their garden, other than that, there was not much to buy and also hardly any buyers in sight.
Driving out of the city towards the old villages, I fell in love with the houses in the countryside. They were shabby-chic, par excellence!! Just charming!! The Georgian houses have the "main house", where the family, usually a few generations live together and a separate small house - the kitchen. All the “action” happens there, this is where the family and guests meet, eat and drink.
Interestingly, in Georgia, it is not common practice that only women cook. Men cook festive dishes, meat, grill etc. Women deal with the dough and starters, salads and sweets.
The animals, pigs, cows and horses roam around freely. The cows return home before dark by themselves, unusual isn't it? The pigs get these wooden “stoppers from harassing the neighbours”, I have been told.
Cows on their way home before nightfall, they just come back. Never heard of that before, cows can be trained? Maybe their cows are more intelligent than ours here.
Men are masters in the kitchen, they prepare meat and other festive dishes. I was taught how to cook this incredibly delicious dish!! The meat was so delicate and soft, infused with the taste of the green little sour fruits, which gave it a hint, but not too much, tangy flavour combined with the deliciousness of healthy herbs. I have never tasted anything like it. Oh my god! It was heavenly !!!!
This construction is over a hundred years old, Tamara proudly told to me. Here the family presses the grapes with their feet and store it in the “Kvevri” for the fermentation, storage and ageing of the wine. The Kvevri are buried in the ground or in cellars to give the wine a constant temperature to develop.
After the kvevri is completed they put it in this room, which is their “Oven”. They have old bricks outside the room, which they are carrying in every time and literally build a wall, so the fire stays only within this room. The fire has to burn for a few days, depending on the sizes of the kvevri. Then they let it cool and remove the brick wall one by one to the side for the next time... can you imagine the amount of work...
To get to Gocha, was NOT a walk in the park, trust me! We crossed rivers with glacier waters, climbed mountains, wrestled through a forest for over 10 km, walked for hours. I was not prepared for such a hardcore trekking experience, nor have I done anything similar. I don't even know how I made it. Seriously, anyone who knows ME, won’t believe it, but luckily, I have witnesses and photos to prove it. I can proudly say, I MADE IT! Now I can do (almost) anything.
Now I know, their trick was to tell me that „going back is further than reaching the goal...“ which was a damn lie, they told me this for hours...., then to lift my desperation, they promised a much easier way back, which was even more of a lie, but long story short ...I was motivated because they told me that once we get to the cabin, I will taste the best cream cheese I ever tasted in my life - Now this was no lie !! Here it is!
This is Gamma, our great trekking guide, hard core as a rusty nail. He led us through the forest and the mountains to the cabin..
Gamma carved walking sticks for me. I don't know what gave me away ... but those sticks were worth millions at that time. My hero! When he first started to remove branches I was hoping he is building me a "stretcher".