Georgia (country)

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Flag of  Georgia Georgia (country)
Information
Language: Georgian is the official language. In the west of the country Mengrelian and Svan are also spoken. Abkhazia and South Ossetia each have their own languages. Russian is universally understood except by some of the young, but they usually speak English instead.
Capital: Tbilisi
Population: 4,774,4732
Currency: Lari ( GEL )
Hitchability: Good Rate!
Current rating: 4.3/5 (37 votes)

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Georgia is a country in Western Asia, that borders Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia. Two part of Georgia in the North, Abkhazia and South Ossetia are de facto independent countries though few nations recognize their independence.

Hitching in Georgia is easy most of the time! Short waits and very friendly people. Road conditions in some places are quite bad so it can take some time but in most of cases there are renovated roads. Spots are very easy to find, just head in the right direction and you will find a suitable place to stand. Sometimes if luck isn't on your side though and you may have to wait for a while and the only cars who will stop for you are marshrutkas (microbuses) which expect payment. But remain patient! Eventually someone will stop for you.

Unlike most European countries, usually no one cares if you hitchhike directly on highways, so it's not a problem to find a spot.

Older generations speak Russian as a foreign language, but people in their twenties and younger are able to speak more English, at least in the bigger cities. In villages even youngsters might only speak Georgian but in the last couple of years many young people from English-speaking countries have been sent to the villages to teach English. A few phrases of Russian will be handy or with a little extra effort people will be amazed if you know some Georgian.

The Georgian hospitality is incredible and the most remarkable experience in this country but sometimes also a small risk as it can become a little bit pushing from time to time. Refusing alcohol can be offending for some people (if there is another person next to the driver in the car the chances are very high that the famous national drink chacha is offered to you) and if you are vegetarian, there could be a similar problem.

Border crossing

Citizens of EU, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries don't need a visa to enter and stay in the territory of Georgia for 360 days.

Abkhazia

Foreigners with a valid Entry Permit can enter Abkhazia from Georgia, but have to return to Georgia. Travelling from Russia through Abkhazia towards Georgia is impossible, as you'll then be regarded as having illegally entered Georgia.

Armenia

There are three border crossings with Armenia, through the towns of Ninotsminda (Georgia), Dmanisi (Georgia) and Bagratashen (AM)/Sadakhlo(GE). There is frequent traffic between these countries, especially between Yerevan and Tbilisi. The Bagratashen-crossing won't give you much trouble - border guards are OK and it will most probably take you less than 10 minutes to cross it.

Turkey

When arriving from the west, your likely point of entry to the country will be Sarp-Sarpi border crossing with Turkey on the Black Sea coast. That border crossing has steady traffic and it's possible to cross the border on foot.

There is another crossing a bit further east, from Türkgözü to the village of Vale and on to Akhaltsikhe. Although the Turkish border road is large and in good quality, the road from the border to Akhaltsikhe is a really bad dirt road. This crossing is not recommended unless you prefer more of an adventure, but the police there are very friendly and will help you get a ride or find a place to stay if it's getting late.

Russia

Since July 2011 it is also possible to cross the border to/from Russia for all passport holders at the Verkhny Lars-Darial Gorge border crossing.

Sleeping

Pitching a tent is a normal thing for the local people, forbidden only in city centres and near ruins.

As usual in the former Soviet Union, it is possible to rent private rooms from local people. In any city or small town one need only go into a shop or small restaurant and ask if someone has a room. Prices start from around 10 lari, and sometimes tea and even dinner is included.

Georgians are very hospitable people. When hitchhiking in the evening or at night, there is a high chance of your driver inviting you to stay at his home. If you are seen at nightfall on the outskirts of a town, villagers may literally pull you into their homes. Note that if you accept Georgian hospitality, your hosts may insist on a marathon drinking session, and you may not get much sleep before having to leave early the next morning.

Food

It's hard to be hungry in Georgia. There's easy to find delicious and very cheap food in every city, in small villages you will be often invited to eat with locals.

If you are looking for vegan options, just ask for samarkhvo: this word denotes food suitable for the religious (Orthodox) fasting, that is actually completely free of meat, fish (though this is sometimes allowed), milk/cheese/dairy and eggs.

Climate

Summer can be pretty hot in Georgia with temperatures around 35–40 °C so you'll need a lot of water and shelter from the sun. Water is easy to find and in fact most Georgians drink tap water.

Winter is quite cold and snowy, especially the north parts.

Using police cars

In Georgia it is possible to "hitchhike" with police cars. Due to the country's desire to become more European, a major reform of the police was undertaken, affecting also the way the police work and deal with people. You should not be afraid of asking policeman for information or help. Most probably they will help you and even more.

The police provide a special type of service - they can deliver you to the address you are asking - for people who are in a position to be harmed or injured, for example when you are a foreigner and traveling alone in Georgia. They can bring you to the address you name or to a hotel. Keep in mind that you will have to fill out and sign a form. It is recommended to use this service in the evenings and nights.

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