I know you’re itching to get back to travelling the world. To help you get into the mood, let me introduce you to the Republic of Georgia – the country where I’ve been fortunate to spend the pandemic period.
Often confused with the unrelated U.S. State, this former-soviet country is nestled within the mountainous Caucasian region, neighbouring Russia, Armenia and Turkey. At first glance, you could be forgiven for being slightly taken aback.
Let’s talk about Georgia
To be honest, I didn’t even know that this country existed before I got here. My knowledge of this region was severely limited to listening to System of a Down. If you’re unaware, the members of System of a Down are all of Armenian descent, and a lot of their lyrics have reflected the occurrence of the Armenian conflict.
And I suppose a lot more people would know that Georgia is the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. Yep, that one. Although, to be fair, Georgia was labelled part of the USSR back then.
Thankfully, modern-day Georgia is an entirely different place in spirit.
It is statistically one of the safest countries in the world. No joke. The entire Georgian public sector went through a major rehaul back in 2003. The government fired all former policemen (who couldn’t be rehired), trained new policemen, rebuilt police stations to encompass “transparency” (made of glass), and anyone found to be corrupt was immediately fired (never hired again).
At first, you might find it disturbing to see a patrol car on almost every block, but after a while, you’ll get used to it – it’s for your safety, after all! But of course, there will be their fair share of high-profile cases.
Wine, dine and explore
When you arrive in Georgia, you would more likely than not arrive in her capital city of Tbilisi (tuh-bee-lee-sea). There are plenty of food and walking tours that you can do all over the city and fill your heart with plenty of wine, cheese and history.
While there is plenty of stuff to do (and to eat) in Tbilisi, that’s not all that Georgia has to offer. If you’re keen on seeing some of the beautiful scenery that you might have seen in your recent Google search, there are plenty of spots you can get to, all within a couple of hours’ drive from the capital city.
Walk back through history in the old Georgian capital of Mtskheta. Enjoy a summer’s day at the coastal town of Batumi, or go skiing down slopes in Gudauri during the winter. You could even enjoy a weekend at a resort in the many local vineyards, sipping on the many delicious varieties that this country has to offer.
How to get to Georgia
This Caucasus country had offered citizens of several countries, including Australia and the U.S., a no-fuss, 365-day visa stamp on arrival. But, since the pandemic hit, that offer comes with some hurdles.
On the 1st of June 2021, Georgia opened up her land, sea and air borders with minimal restrictions to those who have been lucky enough to be completely vaccinated. But, citizens of 28 countries are allowed to enter the country without the need of being vaccinated—just a negative PCR test that’s no longer than 72 hours old and to take another one locally on your third day here. But, it’s best that you are fully vaccinated, just to be polite.
So, if you’re currently residing and/or are an owner of a U.S. passport, you are free to come to Georgia with minimal hassle. The U.S. is part of that special, growing list of countries with a no-fuss entrance policy. All you need to do is ensure that you fill up this form before you arrive and have a negative PCR test or vaccination card with you.
On the other hand, while Australia is not currently a part of the above list of “safe” countries, as of writing, there is still another way to move to this gorgeous country—through the “Remotely from Georgia” program.
Remotely from Georgia
Georgia has been offering a special visa since around June 2020 for “digital nomads” who have been itching to start their nomad lives called “Remotely from Georgia“. This program allows citizens from several countries to apply to stay in the country for a whole year. And, luckily for Aussies, Australia is one of those countries.
Now, this isn’t a visa per se. Instead, it acts as an entry permit for those who want to move to Georgia long-term. On arrival, you’ll be stamped with the usual 365-day visitor visa that most people would have received pre-pandemic, but they expect you to live here. Find out more about the “Work from Georgia” scheme and how to apply here.
If you’re ready to step foot into this lovely country, take note that you should try your best to fly via countries on the “Green List” (e.g. Germany, the UAE via Dubai or Abu Dhabi, or Turkey). That would make things just a lot easier for you once you arrive at immigration.
As the situation around COVID-19 still changes drastically from day to day, it may be a good idea to call up your local Georgian Embassy or Consulate to get the latest information before booking anything in. And for more information on Georgian tourism, visit the Georgian National Tourism website.