Why We Chose Georgia (Europe) As Our Next Destination
One reason we chose Georgia is that traveling Europe as a U.S. citizen comes with restrictions as far as how long we can stay in certain countries. We are permitted to stay in Schengen countries that are mostly in western Europe, for up to 90 days. After that, we have to go to a non-Schengen country for at least 90 days before re-entering a Schengen country. Most countries limit our stay to 90 days. We have been traveling in Europe for six years now. We’ve spent a lot of time in Romania, and countries that were part of the former Yugoslavia, such as Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, and Macedonia. We were ready to explore new territory. We thought about Asia, but it costs a lot to get there, and many of those countries limit your stay to 30 days. We’re permitted to stay in Georgia for one year. The U.S. has good relations with Georgia right now, as Georgia is trying to become a member of NATO. We’ve done a lot of research on Georgia and its diversity in landscape, culture, and architecture, is impressive. Georgia is supposed to be a great country for horseback riding. I haven’t done that since Ecuador. I learned to ride when I was 12 when we lived in Colombia. I’m looking forward to that and going to see the ballet in the capital city, Tbilisi.
What We Know About Georgia
Georgia is located in the Caucasus region of Eurasia, on the coast of the Black Sea. It is bordered by Russia to the north, and Turkey and Armenia, to the south. It is a mountainous country with its Caucasus mountain peaks being some of the highest in Europe. Georgia is the oldest wine-making country in the world. Wine samples that date back to 6000 years B.C. were discovered in the famous wine-growing region of Kakheti. Georgians call their country Sakartvelo. It is unclear where the name in English came from. One theory is that Christian Crusaders went through the area during the middle ages and named the region Georgia, after observing the devotion the people there had for Saint George. Today, Saint George is the Patron Saint of Georgia, and a golden statue of him, slaying a dragon, is located in the central square of the capital city, Tbilisi. The national flag features the red cross of Saint George, on a white background. Georgia was once a part of the Soviet Union but declared its independence in 1991. Georgia’s official language is Georgian, and the majority of its people are Christian Orthodox. The Georgian alphabet is a series of curvy lines that was designed to resemble the grapevine, which is one of Georgia’s national symbols.
Planning Our Trip
We decided on Georgia as a destination, this past winter, when we were in Italy. We find that it’s important to plan our itinerary months in advance. We knew after doing our Schengen time in the Netherlands, over the summer, that we’d have to do a non-Schengen country. Once we picked Georgia we had to start looking at flight costs. The cheapest flight we found was a Wizz Air flight that cost us about $200.00 each from Dortmund Germany to Kutaisi Georgia, on August15th. We booked this flight in early spring when we were staying in Ohrid, Macedonia. This last month here in Dordrecht, we’ve made our final preparations for the trip. We bought our train tickets to Dortmund, Germany online. They cost us about 20.00 Euro, a piece. Our train leaves Dordrecht at 11:30 am, on the 14th, and arrives in Dortmund at 4:00 pm. We made hotel reservations for Dortmund on Booking.Com, for the night of the 14th, since we have a 9:00 am flight on the 15th. We have reservations for two nights at a guest house in Kutaisi that we also made on Booking.Com. We got a room for the two of us, for two nights, including breakfast, for $28.00. The guesthouse also offered a shuttle service from the airport, for $10.00. On August 17th, we will take a train to Batumi, and spend the rest of the summer on the Black Sea. We booked an apartment on Airbnb that has sea views, and costs about 1040.00 USD, for 44 nights. We picked this apartment because it looked clean and modern. We will be close to the beach, grocery store, and a gym.
Final Days In Dordrecht
I’ve been busy this month sculpting the face of my polymer clay fairy. Its been a year since I’ve sculpted a fairy head. I completed a fairy in Italy, over the winter. She was an 8-inch doll with long brown hair and a purple flower, petal dress, that I sculpted from clay, and covered with crepe paper and Modge Podge. I was happy with her and I know I’ve progressed with my sculpting, but I still need to practice more before I’ll be ready to sell one of my dolls. Making money is not what motivates me to sculpt. I’ve always been passionate about art and find the process of sculpting to be very rewarding. I want to become better at sculpting faces. I was too busy starting my blog in Ohrid, but I’ve made time for sculpting again, here in Dordrecht. My biggest challenge was getting the shape of the doll’s head right. Recently, I watched a video by another artist, which was a demonstration of how to sculpt the face first, on a board, then later attaching the face to the skull. I found this method to be very effective. I was able to completely sculpt a head and I even added some neck. I’ll move on to making the fairy’s body when we get to Georgia.
These last few weeks we’ve been trying to get all the last minute details taken care of before our trip. We had to get a 3 month supply of insulin from the pharmacy for my husband Tim, since he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when we were in Scotland, two years ago. We typically save all our receipts from the pharmacies in different countries, then mail them to the insurance company in the states, for a 30% reimbursement. A year ago we trusted a family member to handle our insurance claims. Unfortunately, he really let us down. He didn’t mail claims that he said had been mailed, or he misplaced them all together. When we questioned him about the claims, in a message, he wouldn’t get back to us. Finally, we were forced to hire a mailing service out of Florida, which is the best thing we ever did. Claims started getting paid in less than a month. Since we don’t know what type of products will be available to us in Georgia we’ve spent the last week stocking up on art supplies, cosmetics, and contact lenses. I can buy contact lenses here, without a prescription, for 8 Euro, for a box of four lenses. I bought a years supply of contacts because they are lightweight, and take up very little space in my suitcase.
The most important order of business, our last week here, was to call our bank in Louisiana, to put in a travel notice. We’ve had a lot of challenges with the bank since we’ve been traveling. The last time we called the bank we were trying to change our address to our mailing service in Florida. We also tried to put in a travel notice for Dordrecht. Since we were trying to do two transactions over Skype, we were presented with a list of security questions. Unfortunately, the questions were about actions that we took ten or more years ago. We failed and had to be connected to the bank where we opened the account. The manager was more than accommodating and suggested we call her or her boss whenever we are planning to visit a new country. Now we just by-pass the call center altogether.
We’ve had a memorable experience here in Dordrecht, South Holland. We’ve stayed in the Netherlands a couple of times before, but only in winter. We wanted to see what a summer would be like. We picked one of the hottest summers on record, to visit South Holland. Very few buildings, here are air-conditioned, and it’s been in the 90’s here, for much of July, and the beginning of August. Fortunately, we did everything we wanted to do, such as, museums, shopping, Kinderdijk, and the zoo, in the early part of summer, which was much more pleasant. The best part about coming back to the Netherlands is having available to us the delectable food from the Albert Hein grocery store, such as roast beef, lamb, white fish, fresh vegetables, and pasta. The restaurants are very expensive, so we prefer to cook at the apartment, and though the kitchen is small, we had everything we needed to cook a great meal.
Now off on our next great adventure! See you in Georgia!