Georgia on my mind

April 7, 2022 Urša Drofenik

If life gives you Georgia, go to Georgia

Last year I was invited to lead a workshop at an event organized by the Centre for European Perspective (CEP) together with the U.S. State Department. They hosted a five-day event in Montenegro aimed at improving the digital press and public diplomacy skills of government communicators.

This time, the format of the event was similar, but on a slightly smaller scale, so we were able to cover two groups. The first group was about Digital Communications in civil crisis management (within the EUCTI project ), and the second group was for the participants of the EDDE training for Georgian government communicators (within the European Digital Diplomacy Exchange project).

My role was simple

I had to inspire the participants and show them how to create great visuals with their phones to make their communication through social media channels even better.

We use a mobile device to cover everything – from creating, editing, and posting! In my workshop, we covered the basics of how to use our phones as the perfect accomplices to capture memories. I showed some great tips and tricks, and most importantly, I introduced participants to the magic of photo editing on the go.

Exploring Tbilisi

I can not really remember the last time I slept 8 nights in a row in the same place when traveling to another country. I usually spend 2-3 nights and then move on.

But now it was different. It was a full-on work week – I did my normal job and held two workshops in between – the benefits of the concept of working from home, where “at home” means your phone is connected to WiFi.

Our home in Tbilisi was the Rooms Hotel, where we found everything we needed. This hipster paradise was just perfect to blend in and enjoy in the amazing hotel set up crowded with people from all over the world.

But of course, a daily walk through the old city was a must. To see and feel Tbilisi, I visited both sides of the hills that surround the city.

A walk to Narikala Fortress and Mother of Georgia was a must to get a perfect view of the city. But the other side of the city was a bit sketchy. After we canceled our Sunday trip to Kazbeghi because of the closed road, I had to find an alternative, which of course was definitely a one-of experience.

I went horseback riding to see the so-called Tbilisi Sea. The idea sounded much better than the execution was. I’ll skip the part about how I got to that gypsy village on the outskirts of Tbilisi and how the cab driver had a slightly different idea of how I should spend my day. The main part of this story is about the wild horse that I rode without a saddle and without any control on my part.

Well, the photos are great. I am still alive. The horses are back in the village safe and sound, waiting for new tourists to come and walk(!!) with them. This is actually much safer than the way I did it – alone at full speed accompanied by another guy who was on his horse for the first time. The owners didn’t join us on their horses as they believe they have better control over the horses if they are walking with us. Well.. we were too far to have that control.

Meeting with Georgian history

I could not avoid this part because their history goes way back. We could explore several things, but we decided to spend a day meeting Stalin. We explored the underground museum where he began his propaganda, visited his house in Gori, and of course walked through his museum, which was built during his lifetime. He was certainly an iconic person at one moment, but his reputation is still what it is. So I am going to stop here and not get into politics any further..

On our trip, we also visited the city of Mtskheta and the iconic Orthodox Cathedral of Svetitskhoveli. It is a masterpiece of the early and high Middle Ages and has been recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The cathedral’s exterior facade is a well-preserved example of typical 11th-century ornamentation and will for sure make you wonder if it was built that way to show what options were available when building a church, or if there were several builders who had their own styles and just could not agree on one.

We ended our Saturday trip at the most amazing place – the cave town of Uflistsikhe. Maybe it was the light, maybe it was the rocks, maybe it was the stone city, but this place was amazing and worth a visit.

Having a love affair with food

Let’s make this clear – being on a diet when visiting Georga is a crime.

Everything tastes delicious and is accompanied by excellent Georgian wine. So take your time to explore this part of Georgian heritage and just enjoy the ride. You can get on a diet when you will make it back home.