When taking a Marshrutka (minibus) from one city to the next, you will most likely pass villages, rivers and mountains and that is where I discovered the contrasts between “Tourist-Georgia” and real-life Georgia.
I really advise you to keep your eyes open and watch. It will be worth it.
Get out of the metropolis and your hotel and see abandoned houses next to state-of-the-art government buildings, watch out for cows relaxing on highways and admire beautiful rivers with the sun glistening back at you.
Watch how many facettes Georgian nature has and eventually you may understand why Georgians are so proud of their home. Maybe you will start to wonder why anyone would pollute such a beautiful landscape with bottles and plastic bags, as it is the case on almost every picnic patch and roadside, and put this Georgian pride of their nature in question.
Passing the villages, you will realize that there is still a lot of work to do in rural areas, but keep in mind that the insides of those houses are often much tidier and cared for. Even in big cities, apartment complexes may not always look inviting but hold the most beautiful and comfortable flats. Try to spot typically soviet features, but also get aware of the individuality of each flat or house, the different colours or even just new windows.
While driving, you will most likely notice that driving on Georgian streets makes it feel like your life is seriously in danger and in case your driver is in a rush, there is nothing else you can do but pray you will survive driving in the middle of the street. Never mind curves or trucks coming your way, overtaking is always a must. I’m not saying it’s not sort of thrilling to get this rush of adrenaline every now and then, though and for non-Georgians it will surely be an experience you will never forget. Once you start to get annoyed by the latest Russian hits your driver has been playing on full volume for hours, remember, that is also part of the experience.
Eventually you will wish to be treated with the same respect and care as those cows on streets, as they have the amazing privilege to walk and stand wherever they want. In other words, they seem to own and rule the place. Occasionally there will be a whole flock of cows occupying the road and you will find yourself in a very special kind of traffic jam.
Honking at them is only sometimes effective and you will have to navigate through them very carefully, because you might want to avoid paying both for a cow and for a new car. Once you are successful and are on the road again, you will be able to admire dozens of them on savory, fresh grass, enjoying the sun next to a fresh mountain stream.
Who wouldn’t wish to live a cow’s life in Georgia?