Saturday, September 3, 2011
Racha My Love
Last week I went to Racha for the second time. Visiting Racha is way more exiting than sitting by the comp all day and I tried to squeeze small hikes between work meetings.
If you have 3 free days, I would definitely recommend going to Oni in Racha. The nature there is spectacular, you can go on seven-hour hikes or you can walk around on paved road and look at the mountains from the distance—it is still breathtaking.
The second reason to visit Racha is the place where I stayed—guest house called "Gallery" or "Artist's House". I loved everything about it, the hostess is a graduate of Tbilisi Art Academy and the host carves wood. Everything in their house is handmade—all the furniture, including beds, tables, windows, doors, balcony ornaments are carved by the host and all the pictures, lampshades, cool decorations are created by the hostess.
Also, they are the only pair of entrepreneurs I have seen in Georgia. In a true sense of the word. They took a loan, built the hotel (most of it is built by the host and his son, they did not have money to hire workers), and equipped it with stuff like sun batteries and showers in every room, which, for anyone who’s been to a Georgian village sounds like revolutionary renovations. The hostess only cooks organic food and does not use anything produced chemically (she even makes own spices from herbs she grows in her garden, not even buying store vanilla).
Oni still has Georgian village vibe in it, people are not yet spoiled by the tourists, when you walk down the street everybody greets you, the whole town knows each other, people are friendly in a little-Georgian-town kind of a way.
Another interesting fact is that Oni used to shelter many Jewish families that have now moved to Israel (they still keep in touch with the locals and often visit) and there is 18-th century synagogue, which contains old books, you take them, you open them and you marvel…
The hotel hosts know a lot about Racha, they can tell you the history, show you the map, show some unique things they have found in the mountains—1,000 year-old arrowheads, million-year old fossil prints, minerals, gold…they can take you to a deep, never-explored cave, where you can look for these treasures yourself.
The roads are recently reconstructed and once you pass Terjola, the scenic views are breathtaking.
Racha is also homeland of the most famous Georgian wine in the Soviet Union—Khvanchkara.
The only negative side of Racha travel is marshrutka availability. There is only one marshrutka going to or from Oni and it leaves at 8 A.M. And you have to get to the station earlier or you won’t find a seat. Marshrutka leaves from Okriba station in Didube in Tbilisi and at the central “plaza” in Oni—not that it matters, cause anything in Oni is in 10 minutes walking distance.
Now that I have written a little tourist advertisement, you just have to pack your stuff and check the place out, especially if you have never been there!
P.S. For those who don’t know: “Racha my Love” is a famous Georgian musicale
P.S.S. the pics: The mountains--what Racha looks like; the room where we ate at the hotel—everything you see in created by the hosts.