Georgia is one of three Caucasus countries that emerged as independent states after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The transition away from Russia was not a smooth one, with two regions nominally part of Georgia having declared themselves independent, namely Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
I crossed the border from Azerbaijan, interestingly the road to Tbilisi was dotted with roadside sellers of big packs of washing powder and laundry detergents. Georgians must take their laundry very seriously.
Close to the border with Turkey, Vardzia is a mini-city carved in the mountains. Spanning six levels to the depth of 50 meters, it features streets, tunnels, monasteries, baths, libraries, houses etc. All in all there are over 500 premises connected by passages stretching along the mountain for as long as 700 meters. Vardzia was also built to withstand ennemy attacks, with secret passages built specifically to ambush enemies with a surprise attack.
Akhaltsikhe is a small town that is more than a thousand years old. It passed through numerous hands, the most recent ones being the Ottomans then the Russians. The recent reconstruction of its Rabati fortress has been its main draw.
In the 5th century, the Georgian tsar was hunting when he suddenly he saw a pheasant. The tsar sent his falcon to catch it, but both birds disappeared. While pursuing them, he found the birds boiled in a hot spring gushing from under the ground. Dumbfounded the tsar ordered a city to be built on that very site - "tbili" means warm, in reference to the hot spring. Hence Tbilisi was born, at least according to the legend. Nowadays Tbilisi is a city that harmoniously combines historical and modern features, while the rich sulfuric springs are still there - you'll know you're close to them when you can smell a "rotten eggs" like scent.
Borjomi is a small town home to a natural spring that is famous for its mineral water. Apparently, in the early XV century, the daughter of the Russian Tsar was cured after drinking Borjomi water; hence making the water famous for its rumoured healing properties. The main Borjomi source is situated in Borjomi Central Park where everybody can come fill up or have a drink. The water is rich in sulfur, which explains the tangy taste.