Sweden is such a nice country, even after having a year and a half of holidays, I get an extra 3 weeks in July because all of Sweden shuts down in this month to enjoy the 4 hours of sunlight they get annually. So whats a guy to do with some time on his hands and a small case of the wanderlust? (this of course being different to the vandersexxx)
I was thinking of Ukraine.. its pretty wild, lots of social change, my kind of scene, or there is Kaliningrad, that little piece of Russia between Lithuania and Poland, who ever heard of going there on a holiday? Thats exactly why I wanted to go.
However then some friends suggested Georgia! No, not the American state but the formerly occupied Soviet state just above Turkey… oh and just below Chechnya, maybe you have heard of that place. Sounds like a wild and crazy place to me, im listening…
And as it turns out my Estonian friend Iiris, fresh from finishing her PHD also wants to go to Georgia and has the time free… sounds like a plan to me! I jumped online and found airBaltic did some flights from Riga to the capital Tbilisi, kinda expensive almost 200€ each way but fuck it, ive already given enough to the shareholders of airBaltic in my time, whats a bit more.
I dont know what to expect in Georgia, apparently Tbilisi has a lovely old town center and when we are there they have a folk festival on. Geogria has mountains and also sea too, thats a good combination. Ive been hooked up with some friends of friends who live there and are going to show us around, thats all we need to get ourselves going, some local knowledge and some local beers. I like that I have no idea what to expect, the closest I have to compare is Romania and thats all the way on the other side of the Black Sea. Ive been told Georgian people are lovely and welcoming and who hasnt dreamt of sipping some sweet Georgian wine?
Now not to say Georgia is a place full of happy daisys and rainbows, its just below Russia and unlike our Baltic friends, kind of tucked away from the rest of Europe, across the sea and on the other side of Turkey. That means Russia can get away with way more shit than it ever did when Est, Lat and Lith broke away. There are areas in Georgia you just cant go, the government doesnt actually control them, there are local separatist movements who are in control and being covertly backed by Russia. The Australia government more or less washes their hands of you if you do go: Georgia itself gets a "high degree of caution" rating and the separatist parts get a "make sure you have accurate dental records" status.
I just read today that Russia has been caught red handed making air strikes on the northern part of Georgia and then making it look like it was these separatist guys… sorry Putin, I DONT THINK THESE GUYS HAVE BIG ASSED GUNSHIPS WITH RUSSIAN ROCKETS ON THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE, sort of throws that idea out the window. Still, thats even scarier, that one country can openly and hostily engage a neighbour and no one else seems to care. Good times I am sure. here the Wall Street Journal has been kind enough to make this map which shows us where not to go
But dont let this give you a bad idea about the place! Ha! You know I just love to rabble rouse where ever I can! Georgia is a great place and very welcoming to tourists, in fact I dont even need a visa before I go, I can get one at the airport on the way in, I couldnt even do that to Romania last year.
Come friday evening Im on the boat to Riga then on Sunday Iiris will meet me there and we shall fly to Tbilisi, our flight gets there at 3:30am! Let the adventure begin, expect full blog, photo and video coverage to come.
He was the co-founder of Comedy Estonia, Comedy Finland and Comedy Latvia. Louis writes, does gigs and performs at private events through the Baltics and Finland