Georgia – The Itinerary

Bear with me as The Wandering Twins takes a trip down memory lane recounting our first adventure.  It was over 3 years ago but we still get warm and fuzzy talking about it.  This is going to sound drippy – but here goes – the trip was magical.  For starters, Georgia is an amazing country and we had the benefit of locals to show us around.  But it was also the trip that showed us how manageable it is to travel with children and how well our kiddos responded made us want to keep going and going, trip after trip.

A brief summary of our itinerary to Georgia with more detail below:

  • Day 1 – Arrived in Tbilisi
  • Day 2 – Tbilisi
  • Day 3 – Sighnaghi
  • Day 4 – Sighnaghi
  • Day 4 – back to Tbilisi
  • Day 5 – Tbilisi
  • Day 6-Travel to Stepantsminda
  • Day 7 – Stepantsminda
  • Day 8 – Travel back to Tbilisi
  • Day 9 – Tbilisi
  • Day 10 – Travel to Borjomi
  • Day 11 – Travel to Akhaltsikhe
  • Day 12 – Travel back to Tbilisi
  • Day 13 – Tbilisi
  • Day 14 – Travel home

This was before Airbnb options were plentiful and my friend was able to make local arrangements for an apartment for us for our 2 week stay. Essentially, a little old lady volunteered to vacate her apartment in exchange for our money. It was right down the street from their home so it couldn’t have been better situated.  Even better, it was right across from a great coffee and gelato shop –  Luca Polare – and it was delightful.  Our apartment was inexpensive which alleviated our guilt for going on overnight excursions and having hotel expenses on top of the apartment.


Our hotel in Sighnaghi was the Hotel Kabadoni and it was delightful.  This is my view while having a cup of tea on the hotel restaurant’s terrace.  The hotel restaurant also had a lovely breakfast.  One word of caution – if you order the breakfast sausage, be prepared for a hot dog-style sausage. The kiddos thought it was hilarious to be eating hot dogs for breakfast.

We had dinner both nights at Pheasant’s Tears – the first night we ate inside but the second night we outside and it was delightful.


Exploring Sighnaghi by horseback proved to be quite the adventure – for the whole family. None of us could be described as accomplished horseback riders.  But we managed and had a lovely tour of the area.

The kids enjoyed exploring the wall that surrounds Sighnaghi and walking the city streets just taking it all in.

Our visit to Mt. Kazbegi and Stepantsminda was one of my favorites. Our friends joined us and we all piled into their SUV for the 2ish hour drive.  We had to stop a few times for car sickness issues – for the kids and adults.  The roads are winding and more than a little dizzying.  We packed a simple lunch stopping at Entree to pick up sandwiches before leaving Tbilisi.  A solid decision since there weren’t many/any options along the way for food.


The view from the spot where we stopped to eat our lunch.

One of our stops was at a lookout point built by the Soviets.  The views were amazing and completely worth the stress of worrying about my kids falling over the side of the mountains.  Which was completely irrational.  Sort of.

We stayed in the most amazing hotel in Stepansmidna.  J and I frequently go the hotel site just to pretend we have another trip to plan.  I’m generally not a fan of staying in hotels when traveling with the  kids but this was different.  And perfect. Rooms Hotel is one of the most delightful places I’ve stayed.  Ever.  The kids had plenty of freedom to roam and play which gave the adults plenty of freedom to curl up on the cushy sofas on the expansive deck with a bottle of wine and chat away. A few pictures below don’t do our stay justice.  The pictures of Mt. Kazbegi were taken from the deck – likely with a glass of wine in hand – so there was no need for rugged hiking to take in such impressive views.


Our next stop was Borjomi and we stayed at Nick and Goerge’s Guesthouse which my friend arranged for us.  It was delightful.  The owners were so welcoming and doted on the kids.  There was one other couple staying there and it was peaceful and quiet.  Dinner and breakfast were provided and besides being delicious, the amount of food set out was positively gluttonous – in a good way.  I’ve never seen so many options laid out on a table for just one meal.

It was through the guest house owners that we had a tour of Borjomi National Forest on horseback.  It was slightly terrifying at times but the kids had guides walking their horses and while there was a language barrier, the guides were mindful of how the kids were holding up during our 3-hour tour.  Because of the language barrier, we had no idea how long the ride was or where we were going, which made me a little uncomfortable. Admittedly, I had visions of these two strange men leading  my family into the wilderness only to abandon, torture, or kill us. But, as is so often the case, my worst fears went unrealized.  Go figure.

Our final stop as we explored beyond Tbilisi was Akhaltsikhe where we stayed at the newly opened Hotel Rabath Gino Wellness and it was another delightful excursion.  We were on our own without our friends on our Borjomi and Akhaltsikhe jaunt and it felt good to do things independently and navigate on our own.  Well, kind of on our own as we did have a driver but since he didn’t speak English, I think we still get credit for being on our own.

The hotel was great as was the attached restaurant.  As I mentioned, this was our first time really being on our own.  Our ordering choices reflected our status as novices.  We were wondering why the waitress seemed so amused as she took our order but once the parade of food started coming we realized just how much we over ordered.  But it was all delish so no harm, no foul.

From Akhaltsikhe we headed back to Tbilisi to enjoy our last full day before flying home.  It was tough to go home and I remember having serious re-entry issues when we got home.

Our 1st Adventure -Georgia (no, not the state…)

The Wandering Twins’ Perspective

I loved the plane! Well, you can expect that, as it was me and Nate’s first international flight ever! We were switching from movie to drawing to reading and back again, just in a different order. Me and Nate were so exited, we nearly yelped with joy when we saw that there were video game controllers. The seats were arranged two by two so it was possible that Nate and I wouldn’t argue and bicker over the window seat. There wasn’t much to see because, well, it was an overnight flight. Still, it was cool to look at the sunrise as we landed in Turkey for our layover. Why Turkey? We were riding on Turkish Airlines, where the flight attendants served some Turkish delights every now and then. They served the kind with almonds and pistachios, not the other kinds. When we landed, I forget what time it was but it was time for dinner. I was like, so confused because um.. we didn’t have lunch on the plane. We were only served breakfast on the plane because we had to wake up really early to catch our flight.Wait… we had to wake up at about midnight. I might have fallen asleep during the flight but it was so long ago, I totally forget most of the flight. I was in first grade at the time, and now I’m in fourth grade so I hope you understand why I forgot. Overall, it was fun and I had a good time. When we landed, I was shocked at the size of the airport. I had never been in one this big before! There was even a hotel! Because the layover went overnight, that’s where we slept. We weren’t tired because we were jet lagged so we decided to go and play with each other- like that worked out well! We can barely even being the same room without harassing each other.

The Parental Perspective

There weren’t a lot of airline options for flying to Tbilisi and the route on Turkish Airlines seemed to be the best.  We flew from Washington, DC to Istanbul and from there to Tbilisi. Our flight from DC left at 11pm and we arrived in Istanbul at around 4pm local time. I had a few options for the timing of our layover. We could either choose a shorter layover with arrival in Tbilisi in the middle of the night or opt for a longer layover and arrival the following day at mid-morning.  While I would usually go for the shortest travel time possible, in this situation it made the most sense to pick the later flight.  Thanks to my friend’s guidance, I was aware of the TAV Airport Hotel located inside the international terminal at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul.  This hotel allows for reservations to be made in 3-hour blocks of time.  It was perfect!

As soon as we landed in Istanbul, we made our way to the airport hotel.

This wasn’t quite as straightforward as I was hoping, but we eventually figured it out. Turns out we had to go through security because our plane disembarked outside and we took a bus to the terminal.  We weren’t expecting that and kept thinking the hotel should be before security.  Once we sorted ourselves out and dutifully made our way through security, we checked in at the hotel.  As you can see from the picture below, our kids promptly scattered their things and my husband happily curled up in bed.


Our TAV Airport Hotel room – Jason headed straight for the bed and the twins made quick work of spreading their belongings around the room.

Our plan was to get dinner and then explore the airport before going to sleep.  When we told the kids the plan, Catherine’s response was “what happened to lunch?”  That clever kiddo doesn’t miss a thing – except our pre-trip discussions of time zone changes.

Speaking of disembarking outside rather than pulled up to a gate, that presented its own challenges.  We were pulling up the rear when it came to getting off the plane since we had lots of stuff and tried to be considerate and let others off behind us.  The bus taking passengers from the plane to the terminal was tightly packed by the time we got off the plane.  Stupidly, we stepped to the side and thought we’d wait for the next bus.  After some stilted exchanges with airport personnel we realized that was it.  The only bus.  And now it was even more of a squish to get on.  But we did and it all worked out, though I was holding on tight to my kiddos to make sure we didn’t get separated.

Dinner was a bit difficult, to be honest. We were all tired from our lack of sleep on the overnight flight and we weren’t sure what to make of the restaurant options.  In the interest of time, we went to the food court rather than a full-service restaurant.  We stumbled our way through the line and ordered food that we thought looked good even if we weren’t sure exactly what it was.  In hindsight dinner at a seated restaurant might have been the better option as that would have given us time to consider choices rather than trying to rush through with a line of people behind us.

Once we finished dinner, we then made our way back to the hotel.  The food court and the hotel are at opposite ends of the international terminal.  As we walked, I’m sure we looked a bit “country mouse goes to the city” which I’m not used to since we don’t exactly live in a rural area. It was bustling with travelers from all over on the world and people from all walks of life.  Once again, I was a little stressed about keeping a hold of my kids; I was relieved to get back to our room so I could close the door and not worry about keeping an eye on everyone.

That night everyone slept well but me.  Go figure. And it was all my fault.  With the time zone changes, I hadn’t done a good job of staying away from caffeine and I probably had a cup of tea too close to the end of the day.  But I was in Turkey – I couldn’t resist trying the tea.

Our flight the next morning was around 7am and by the time we landed, got our luggage, and passed through customs, it was right around noon in Tbilisi.

Because we stayed overnight in Istanbul, I think that minimized the jet lag for the kids. When we arrived in Tbilisi the kids and my husband were ready to hit the ground running. I, however, was a hot mess. But I did what moms do and sucked it up.