I keep on talking about things you should know about Georgia before traveling to here. Even if you love spontaneity, better read something in advance. In the first part I explained some basic things about the transport system in bigger Georgian towns and getting from point ა to point ბ. Now it’s time to speak up about some other issues that matter.
The second important question upon arrival is what to do with the money? My advice would be not to exchange all money you have in the airport. In the city center there are exchange kiosks and banks with friendlier currency rates. You can also withdraw some cash from your card: there are also ATMs in the airport. Please note that in Georgia only lari is accepted, so dollars and euros will be useful only for exchange.
2. SIM CARDS
Buying a Georgian sim card can be a good idea for those who stay in Georgia more than a couple of says. Mobile operators Magti and Geocell offer their SIM cards for free at Tbilisi airport – though, their kiosks do not always work in the early morning … If you didn’t manage to get a free card, in the city center there are stores of Magti, Beeline and Geocell, where you can find out more about the tariffs and purchase a sim card.
Tbilisi has free public wi-fi “Tbilisi Loves You”, to which you can also connect if necessary. Recently it started being quite slow in the crowded points, but at least it’s enough for checking Facebook and see what’s new here.
3. IMPORTANT NUMBERS AND CONTACTS
You can reach all the emergency services under short free number 112. They usually arrive quickly and speak Russian or English.
If you need tourist information, in the airports, at Pushkin Square in Tbilisi, near the cable car sttion in Batumi, as well as in the central areas of the tourist cities (Sighnaghi, Telavi, Kutaisi, Borjomi, Kvareli, Mestia etc.) there are official governmental information centers where you can get a map of the city or region, and find out where to go and things to do.
4. CULTURAL ISSUES
If your vacation in Georgia should be longer than 2-3 days, learn to read at least the basic signs Georgian letters. It will help you very much! Of course, elder people speak Russian, younger people – English or both. In the remote regions the situation can be worse… But I don’t really think you can get lost.
If you go on a tour, grab a scarf: first, it can be hot in April – October, and there can be also a chance that you will go visit a church or a monastery. In Georgia, there are a lot of them. Women are obliged to cover their heads and shoulders, while men will not be allowed into a church in shorts.
Negotiate with taxi drivers and at markets – this is normal. If you think that the price is way too high, talk about it, negotiate, and you might get lucky.
Being late is unfortunately not considered to be a bad habit here. Every expat is joking about the Georgian time zone, GMT (for Georgian Maybe Time)… So, please keep calm.
In cafes and restaurants, service fee/tips are almost always included in the bill.
You gonna be frequently asked, where are you from. This is normal in Georgia. People are just wondering.
Women shouldn’t walk around being covered from head to feet. Wear what you want. However, very open clothes can still cause over-excitement and exaggerated attention.
Traffic here is very intense. Do not worry, keep calm, just be prepared for little chaos.
If you are treated in a pushing manner – don’t be alarmed. People here are willing to share all they have with their guests. Your denial can sometimes offend the host!
I hope these tips will make your Georgian holidays more pleasant! I wish you a happy trip, stay in touch.
Head pic: Irina Mikryukova