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Here is a brief info about Georgia

Hey folks! We just decided to kinda help you out in case you're plannin' on visiting our Mother-Nation. This is just a brief intro page about the most important things to know and just some helpful tips. This is mainly made for American travellers. Still with me? All right then. Here we go:

I. Practical Information

A. Check-in Procedures/Visa........................3 B. Telephone and mail..............................3 C. Transportation..................................4 D. Money Exchange..................................4 E. Lunch...........................................4 F. Laundry/Cleaning Service........................4

II. Health information


III. Security Tips

Walking or Riding about Town........................6

IV. General Information about Tbilisi

A. A Brief History.................................8 B. Language........................................9 C. Climate.........................................9 D. Restaurants.....................................10 E. Shopping........................................10 F. Sights..........................................12 G. Places of Worship...............................13

V. Accommodation Facilities


I. Practical Information

A. Visas/ Check-in procedures at the Embassy

Foreign visitors to Georgia can get entry visas either in Georgian embassies in their own countries, or within three days after arrival in Georgia, in the consular department at the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Upon arriving at the Embassy, official visitors should take their passport and one passport picture to the Personnel Assistant in the Personnel Office. The Personnel Assistant will obtain your Georgian visa. US Embassy Address: (Note! All other addresses will be posted soon! )

B.Telephones and Mail

Embassy, 25 Atoneli Street Switchboard: 98-28-30, 98-39-87 After hours: 93-38-03 Telex: (64) 212-210 amemb su FAX: 995-32-00-1012 995-32-938-951 or FAX: 7-8832-933-759


The after-hours embassy number, 93-38-03, is manned 24 hours by an English speaking guard who can put you in touch with an embassy officer. Other emergency numbers are:

Fire: 01

Police: 02

Ambulance: 03

Phone and Mail Use

Calls to Tbilisi can be directly dialed from the United States. The code is (011) 995 32 + local number. Calls to the States may be ordered from the Embassy switchboard operator. Dial 0 to reach the operator. Tbilisi is 9 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

C. Transportation

If you choose to rent a car, or a car with driver, you can expect to pay approximately $20 per day plus gasoline. Call one of two shopping services that may be able to find a rental for you: 37-02-66 or 98-22-61. Taxi service is available for official Embassy visitors at the Embassy, Monday - Friday from 18:00 to 22:00 and weekends from 10:00 to 23:00. City taxis may be flagged on the street or called at 23-11-47, or 008. Much of the city can be explored by foot, but the Embassy recommends this only during daylight hours. I personally do not think it is as bad. But oh well, that's the embassy talking. See "Security Tips" for more information on security in the city streets.

D. Money Exchange

Money can be exchanged at the Embassy cashier's office (ext.148). The Embassy Cashier is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:30 to 12:30.
Also Currency can be exchanged at any bank or a currency exchange shop.

E. Lunch

The Embassy cafeteria is open for lunch from 12:30 to 2:00 pm Monday through Friday. (ext. 135) If you are planning to eat there of course.

F. Laundry/Cleaning Service

Long-term (30 days or longer) visitors may use the Embassy's laundry service for a reasonable charge. Mark your laundry bag clearly with your name and give to the laundress in the laundry room, ext. 134. Your laundry will be returned in 1-2 days time with a bill that can be paid directly to the laundress. Most hotels offer laundry service.

II. Health information

Food and Water

The following precautions have been recommended by the Regional Medical Officer relating to locally purchased or prepared foods. These precautions do not pertain to the Matechi Palace Hotel where they follow European standards and double filter the water. 1. Foods must be cooked thoroughly, especially meat, poultry, and fish. 2. Food exposed to room temperature for more than 2 hours should not be eaten. 3. Food should not be purchased from street vendors. 4. Raw vegetables should be washed in a chlorine solution. 5. Don't drink water from the tap. - That's what the embassy says again. We all drink it, we're alive. So, go figure.

Health risks in Georgia

The climate of Georgia is favorable, similar to that found in areas of the U.S. and one which does not support unusual health problems. In the mountains air is fresh and healty. The usual bacterial and viral illnesses which one might encounter in the U.S. can also be encountered in Georgia.. Sanitation and public health control measures, although not absent, are not of U.S. standards of quality and quality control. And, in any country undergoing political, economic and social changes, medical risks not present today may be present tomorrow. Thus, basic preventive health practices must be closely followed. Common sense will protect you well. Universal immunization is not practiced within the country, so vaccine-preventable illnesses such as diphtheria and measles which are virtually non existent in the U.S. can be found in Georgia. Americans are immunized and therefore are not at particular risk. Rabies is found in Georgia as it is in the U.S., though it is not currently reported in Tbilisi. Any dog bite should be investigated and treated appropriately with Rabies potential in mind. Probably the greatest immediate health risk you may encounter in Georgia is from traffic crashes. Defensive driving practices and the wearing of seat belts is essential. Passive cigarette smoke is also a risk and is very difficult to avoid. Water supplies within the country should not be considered suitable for drinking, even though the quality is reasonably good. Again, consistency of quality control is problematical. Safe water today may not be safe tomorrow. Fruits and vegetables should be surface washed and/or peeled prior to use. Meats should be well cooked and local dairy products used with caution. One should always be aware that one is not living in the U.S. where things work medically. But one should also not worry unduly about being under any special threat of disease, if sensible preventive health practices are followed. The risk of becoming seriously ill or injured is probably no greater than it would be in the U.S. But the availability of medical care is not equivalent, neither in time nor in general quality. Some selected medical providers are very good, however.

Medical Emergencies

In the case of a medical emergency, contact the Embassy immediately (after hours: 93-38-03). The hospital responsible for the Embassy is City Hospital 2, and an ambulance can be called by dialing 03. A nurse practitioner is available for consultations Monday - Friday 9:00-6:00 a.m. at the Embassy. Check with the Personnel Assistant for further information.

III. Security Tips from the Regional Security Office

Walking or Riding About Town:

Tbilisi is a beautiful city and should be enjoyed. Most of the safety precautions you would take in a large American city are also appropriate for Tbilisi. On Foot: Keep your wallet or cash in a safe place. It might be wise to keep small currency in a separate pocket from your higher denomination Lari notes and/or dollars. This way you can pay for most items without showing how much money you really have. Avoid flashing bills anywhere. Avoid wearing expensive jewelry (unless you are going straight to a party or function). When walking in town during daylight hours, travel with companions when possible. The later it gets in the evening in Tbilisi, the less police presence there is on the streets with a corresponding increase in criminal activity. The safety has increased significantly lately; However don't take your chances. Stay away from dark areas, recessed parts of buildings, or alleys. At night call for a ride if possible. For after hours transportation, call 93-38-03. If you must walk somewhere at night, travel with companions. Avoid the Metro system unless necessary and only to transit between the major stops in the center of town. Once again, who knows? You are in a big city. If you see a fight or demonstration in the street (unless your reporting requirements dictate otherwise) leave the area. If there appears to be a major demonstration, particularly if it is violent, after leaving the immediate area call and advise other Embassy personnel (RSO, Duty Officer).

By Car:

If someone other than the police try to flag down your car (particularly at night), don't stop. You may have to slow down to determine if they are police or not. If they don't have some type of uniform, speed off. If you are stopped by police, immediately identify yourself as an American. Always keep all car doors locked, no matter how short the distance of your trip. Never open a car door for anyone. Communication can be made through a partially open window. If you are involved in a minor accident don't get out of the car. (This is particularly applicable if someone lightly hits the rear of your car.) Motion to the person to follow you and find the nearest policeman. This is a common ploy to rob people and/or steal their car. If you are involved in an accident, don't admit to being at fault or sign anything. Insist you be allowed to call the American Embassy.

Outside Tbilisi:

There are many interesting areas to see on day trips outside of Tbilisi. Services on the road are extremely limited. It would be a good idea to take along extra gasoline, a spare tire, jack and tool kit, a flashlight, some bottled water, a first aid kit, toiletries, etc. PLEASE CONSULT WITH THE RSO OF DUTY OFFICER BEFORE SETTING OUT.

IV. General Information about Tbilisi

Tbilisi has a population of approximately 1.5 million and is the capital of the Republic of Georgia. It is located at 45 degrees North (the same latitude as Boston), at an altitude which ranges from 1246 to 2460 feet above sea level.

A. Brief History

In the middle of the Fifth century King Dachi, the son of King Vakhtang Gorgasali of Kartli, moved the capital to Tbilisi from Mtskheta, a town 12 miles from Tbilisi that is well worth a visit. Tbilisi was named for its hot sulphur springs -- the Georgian word for "warm" is tbili. According to legend King Gorgasali discovered the hot springs while on a hunting trip, and was so impressed with the strategic location in the narrow gorge of the Mtkvari River, he decided to found a city there. Tbilisi has survived over 40 invasions by the Persians, Arabs, Mongols, Seljuk and Ottoman Turks, and tribes from the North Caucasus, but has always been able to rise again. The twelfth century was the golden age of Georgia when Tbilisi, under David the Builder, was capital of a united Georgia, and lay at the crossroads of many trade routes. The city and Georgian arts and culture flourished. King David was followed by his son, grandson, and great-granddaughter, Queen (sometimes called "King") Tamara, "the most powerful, hospitable and generous sovereign among the rulers of those days". Marco Polo wrote of his visit in 1298 that in Georgia there was "a beautiful town, Tipilisi by name, surrounded by settlements and a multitude of strongholds." But despite its fortifications, in 1226 the city was sacked again by invaders. Within the same century the city had recovered to the extent that the Catholic Bishop in the Near East was transferred from Smyrna to Tbilisi. At the beginning of the fifteenth century, the city again fell to invaders, but the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries saw another revival--the first Georgian printing house was established and Georgia's first Code of State and Civil Law was developed. In 1783 the Georgian Treaty was signed, under which the East Georgian Kingdom came under the protection of Russia. This treaty so angered the Persian ruler that he razed the Tbilisi to the ground. In 1801 Georgia was incorporated into the Russian Empire. Georgia was forced to become part of USSR in 1921 and it broke away in 1991. The charm and beauty of Tbilisi has been attested to by many writers, both local and foreign, and you can still find the names of some of those writers on the streets named after them: Rustaveli, Chavchavadze, Dumas, and Pushkin, to name a few. The short civil war after the Georgian declaration of independence (winter of 1990-91) destroyed a few of the downtown buildings, but Tbilisi remains a unique and attractive city.

B. Language

The Georgian language is the state language of Georgia. It belongs to the Kartvelian group of Ibero- Caucasian languages. Georgian is the only language in the Ibero-Caucasian family having ancient script. The most ancient writing date back to the Fifth century AD. The alphabet of 33 letters (5 vowels and 28 consonants). The shape of the letters is unique and it can not be compared to any other existing alphabet. Almost all Georgians speak Russian as well, and increasing numbers speak English.

C. Climate

Tbilisi has a continental climate with hot summers and chilly, damp winters without much spring or fall in between. There is minimal snow in the capital in winter. Summers in Tbilisi tend to be quite stuffy with poor air quality. The average monthly minimum and maximum temperatures (fahrenheit) and precipitation (inches) are as follows:

D. Restaurants

Georgian food is delicious. Make sure you go to a restaurant. Many of the following restaurants close early in the evening or may not work daily, so a reservation is recommended. Most can seat large parties with advance notice. Here are just a few good examples: Diplomatic Club, 4/6 Mtkvari Street, 99-76-62 (no sign-- look for guard booth out front) -- pleasant atmosphere, reasonable prices, good food. Usually no reservation required. Private restaurant, 35 Davitashvili Street, 99-61-61 (entrance above the street through house gate and yard), manager Givi--small, pleasant atmosphere (quasi-Chinese decor), good Georgian fare and competent service. No recent reports on food or service. Rioni, behind Adjara Hotel, 36-75-06--small restaurant with inconsistent, but usually good food and service. Frequently there is no heat in the winter. Rachis Ubani, Ethnographic Museum, Vake Park, 23-09-60, museum manager Soso--traditional Georgian tables with a pleasant setting in one of the restored houses in the open air museum, works seasonally. Palermo, 67A Tsereteli Avenue, 35-47-70, manager Marina Mikheladze--small, clean, good service, sometimes with music, reservations must be made at least one day inadvance. Metekhi Palace Hotel Restaurant, Issani, 98-58-17 or 74-45-56, good food and atmosphere.

E. Shopping

Souvenirs and gifts:

There are several good shops in town offering Georgian artwork and handicrafts. The following are all in walking distance of the Embassy: "Salome" Art Salon; 41 Vertskhli Street (Old Town near Embassy); 98-92-74 "Solani"; 19 Rustaveli Avenue, across from the old government building next to the Rustaveli Theater "Antique Saloon"; Rustaveli Avenue, across Republican Square from the Iveria Hotel "Pirosmani"; Rustaveli Avenue, just beyond "Antique Saloon" "Patmani"; Rustaveli Avenue, across from "Pirosmani", just past the Iveria Hotel. Open Flea Market; Saturday and Sunday mornings in the park under the bridge behind the Embassy. Art, souvenirs and "collectibles". There are several other large outdoor specialty markets for those who have access to transportation.


There is a small peasants' market very close to the Embassy where one can find acceptable seasonal fruits and vegetables, eggs, cheese, yogurt, and spices--and more and more imported items in cans and jars. It's best to go early in the day for the best selection. There are some hard currency stores with a very limited selection of foodstuffs --"Tsitsinatela" at 23 Rustaveli Avenue, 93-45-83 and "Aragvi", opposite the Telephone/Telegraph building, and the Matico shop. Western products also can be found in the small private booth stores in the city: soft drinks, beer, chocolate, coffee, pasta, and so on.
Any western clothing, technology, food etc. can be found all over the city. Some examples are:
Clothes:Levi's, Lee Cooper, adidas, Nike, Reebok, etc. Fasion clothes: Babylon, Albatros, Bata - shoe store, Pierre Cardin, Calvin Klein, Polo, California Express (A selection of Van Heusen, nautica, Izod, Ralph Lauren, etc.)
Food:Supermarkets: A set of Super Babylon Shops, Unica Diplomat etc. Snacks: Any Vending Kiosk in the street - It is safe. Fast food: Mali - a big set of fast foods. Other western ones are also available.


There is a small drug store, "Unipharm", a British joint venture located in the underground mall under Republican Square (in front of Iveria Hotel). They have a small selection of prescription and non-prescription drugs, toiletries, paper products, pet supplies, and toys. There are also many other pharmacies in the city. There is a Kodak film developer and private store with some clothing, western sundries, and technical equipment on Leselidze Street. There are also 2 shopping services that will find what you need if they can (for a small fee): Manana or Givi ("Economic Center") at 37-02-26. Natalie or Murman ("Service") at 98-22-61. Both of these services can also help in finding domestic help, an apartment, or basically anything that can be bought. "Service" also can provide excellent cakes and small breads. If there is something specific you are looking for, ask the local staff for advice.

F. Sights in Tbilisi

Tbilisi is an ancient city, which became the capital of Georgia (Kartli) in 458 A.D. There is a great deal to see even in these difficult times. Unfortunately most of the museums have removed the most valuable parts of their collection to closed archives. But the Djanashia Museum of Georgia, close to the Embassy on Rustaveli Avenue, contains artifacts which cover the entire history of Georgia, from the Paleolithic era through the Soviet period. The Georgian Art Museum is also very close, on Pushkin Square. Some of the better-known Georgian artists whose works you can see there include Lado Gudiashvili, David Kakabadze, Yelena Akhvlediani, and the self-taught artist, Pirosmani. Grishashvili Museum of History and Ethnography at 8 Sioni Street, is located in a restored Caravansarai near the Sioni Cathedral, a pleasant 15 minute walk from the Embassy. The older parts of town are pleasant areas for walking: the area above Freedom Square and Rustaveli Avenue, Leselidze Street which stretches from Freedom Square to the river, and David Aghmashenebeli Avenue. The Central Botanical Gardens are beautiful and located not far from the Embassy. The more adventurous can try hiking up around the old fortress walls. Some impressive monuments include, but are not limited to: -the Metekhi Church (the one that sits above the river on your way to Metekhi Palace Hotel); -Sioni Cathedral, the seat of the Catholicos of the Georgian Orthodox Church, just off Leselidze Street; -the synagogue, on Leselidze St.; -St. David's Church, halfway up the mountain on which the radio tower stands. In Victory Park, or "Vake Park", there is an open-air ethnographic museum featuring restored houses taken from the various regions in Georgia. An English-language tour can be arranged in advance. Call director Givi at 23-09-60.

G. Places of Worship

There are no services in English available in Tbilisi, but there are many churches and one synagogue in Tbilisi: -- The vast majority of churches in Georgia are Georgian Orthodox. Most of them are open at all times for prayers. Sunday service is generally from 9am to 12am. Worshippers stand, and it is acceptable to enter for a short time during the service. The main church is Sioni on Leselidze Street. -- Synagogue: Leselidze St., services in a mixture of Georgian and Hebrew. -- Baptist church: Kakhovskaya St., 34-29-10, senior clergyman Nodar Kvirikashvili. -- Catholic church: Ivan Javakhishvili St., services in Russian.

V. Accommodation Facilities

Metekhi Palace Hotel:

The only western standard four-star hotel in Tbilisi is the Metekhi Palace Hotel. The room rate at the Metekhi Palace Hotel for an Embassy visitor (minus the VAT) is $164 per night. The regular rate is $204 (plus 20% VAT) per night. The room rate includes breakfast and full use of the Health Club.
Note: Visitors to Tbilisi can stay in private guest houses, where Georgian hospitality along with marvelous service and comfortable atmosphere will guarantee your comfort.
Villa Berika

9 Dzotsenidze St., (995) 8832 933563 or 304438 Satellite tel/fax: +49 5151 12013 ext. 933562 +1 908 888 9698 ext. 123 President Berika International Ltd. - Natasha Chikvaidze. The room rates are $110-140 per night, including breakfast and dinner.

55/21 Belinski St., Tel: (995) 8832 983551, 982937 E-mail: Manager: Donald Jenkins The room rate is $80 per night, including breakfast and dinner.

47 Nutsubidze St., Tel: (995) 8832 397194,394787 E-mail: Manager: Laura Shanidze The room rate is $90 per night, including breakfast and dinner.

Rcheulishvili St., building 4 Fax/Tel: (995) 8832 294443 TLX: 212990 Manager: Mamuka The room rate is $ 110 per night, including breakfast and dinner.
Most of this information was provided by the US Embassy in Tbilisi. For more information see Sanet.
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