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    Posted July 4, 2012 by
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    Postcard from Europe: Georgia


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     dlakme's photo was featured as CNN's Travel Photo of the Day on March 14, 2014.
    - Verybecoming, CNN iReport producer

    No other country in Europe, except Albania, did I hear many disheartening comments like Georgia. “People are a little strange.” “Men there are like monkeys; They will rape you.” “How about you have a kid, wait until he grows a few years then you can go.” To be fair, Georgia, as we know it--thanks to the media--isn't a sunny beach resort where tourists go to get a tan or a metropolitan capital lined up with coffee bars and restaurants. It isn't a peaceful village where cows roam on green pasture nor it is a place where one escape to the cottage in the summer. Georgia, as we know it, is the South Ossetia four years ago with vivid images of tanks, flying rockets and bombed buildings. When I found out the mountainous area I wanted to visit, Kazbegi and Svaneti, located in proximity with the problematic autonomous Abkhazia and Chechnya, I seriously wondered about the environment surrounding this country.

    But Georgia, as I saw it, was a sunny beach resort of Batumi by the Black Sea where I idly passed my days while waiting for the visa to Azerbaijan. It was the sublime view of the Caucasus mountain during my hikes in Kazbegi and Svaneti. It was a series of tranquil villages where cows jingled their bells, feeding on green pasture and sheep flocked on mountain slopes. It was where all my past diet effort got thrown over the window while I binged over calorie-filled meat dumplings and heart-attack inducers in the form of monster pies with piles of melted cheese, butter and eggs.

    I hate to quote a cliche, but in Georgia, like in its neighboring Caucasus countries, I found one of the most hospitable people in Europe.

    It was strange but fantastic all the same. Georgia was the best introduction to the Caucasus.

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