The frugal traveler Matt Gross has made it to Georgia on his way around the world writing for The New York Times. There he finds what he has been looking for: “cheap but yummy food and wine, intellectual cafe society and sunny hospitality”.
He checks into the family ran Hotel Charm, where he pays $40 a night for a top floor room with sloping wooden ceilings and antique furniture.
“My Tbilisi was a city of cafes and Old Town architecture (endless arches and sagging balconies), where even the Soviet-era concrete blocks evoked a certain joie de vivre. And if their food was any clue, Tbilisians certainly enjoyed life. The cuisine was a rainbow of herbs and meats, with crushed walnuts thrown into just about everything. After a glass or three of luscious wine (don’t believe the myth that it’s insufferably sweet), Tbilisi felt like a forgotten European capital, only cheaper and with people who were genuinely excited to show me their country.”
Making friends is easy and he spends time socializing in Tbilisi, and neighboring villages, and even makes a trip to the mountains:
“I felt more alive than I had in years, and as we devoured our well-earned picnic of bread, cheese, sausage and pickles, I wondered: Do we really have to come back down to earth?”