Sunday, July 13, 2008

Breakfast in Tbilisi

Since the war obviously is postponed, I think I can allow my self to adress a less depressive theme without being considered an outrageous optimist: Tourism in Georgia.
Now, as my wife decided to entertain me with Mozart on her piano while I enjoy a late Georgian breakfast, I suddenly started to feel a bit uncomfortable being pampered like a little king, noting that I also am enjoying a service from my mother in law worthy of royals. What should disgust you even more, is that my breakfast is ready whenever I decide to get up in the morning. I won't even mention dinner. So what has this to do with tourism? Well, you see it's not only my mother in law that treats me like a royal. It's happens everywhere, and this disturbs me as I can be defined as an average middleaged, male from anywhere. Wherever I am invited, theres a lot of extra attention given to me, and I am always treated with the best of food, always being served first, receiving presents all the time, and always being denied paying the bill - in a very persistant manner.
Yesterday we, the whole family, went to visit Signaghi in Kahkheti. It's an old city, now beutifully restored and commercialized in a civilized way. I visited a shop wanting to buy mineralwater for the family. My wife went in with me. And as I paid, the shopkeeper said to her that this was the first time he had seen a forreigner pay for anything, or buy something for others in his shop. Even the guides and translators gave the tourists mineralwater and food as presents, he said, obviously supposing my wife was a guide. On the way back to Tbilisi we stopped at a road house for dinner. Suddenly we had a big bowl of chicken at our table, curtesy of the Georgians on a table nearby. They thought I looked like a tourist, and wanted me to feel welcome in Georgia. Now there's more: This year me and my wife travelled together with a couple of young Norwegian students to Tbilisi. They went to Khazbegi for trekking, and returning from that trip they told me with great surprice they hadn't paid for food and transport because their new Georgian friends wouldn't let them.
The Georgians regards a guest as sendt from God. So it's great to be a tourist in Georgia. It's right down fantastic. But realizing that most Georgians have very little money you must ask your self the question: How do I pay back? In the western culture we are mostly vampires, sucking the blood out where ever it is possible. I think a good start is to pay the taxidrivers a couple of lari's extra, never dispute the prices anywhere, maybe leave some dollars for a hospitable person/family a place where it can be found after you leave, and generaly try to figure out a way to pay back. If you are a tourist that might be a nut to crack. If not, I fear that being a tourist in Georgia will be a very different experience in a very few years.


Blogger TSWorld said...

What other countries around the world have you traveled? I am curious if you have seen such hospitality in any other country? I am Georgian myself and reside for a moment in US. I have not traveled yet around the world much.
Thank you for such a great blog!

Sunday, August 17, 2008 6:22:00 am  
Blogger Eistein G. said...

tsworld: I have been around, and can without doubt tell you that I have never experiences such friendlyness and hospitality anywhere. This summer me and my wife travelled together with two norwegian students. We helped them get settled in Tbilisi, and showed them around before they went to Khazbegi for climbing and to Tusheti on adventure. They said it was very strange to meet Georgians. Nothing like any culture they had met on their many journeys around the world. The hospitality, and will of helping is amazing, and they planned to go back. The same is the impression people who gives feedback on my website have.
A very important asset indeed. If you chose to go to Norway, let me know.

Sunday, August 17, 2008 10:28:00 am  

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