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From Georgia with love2011-06-15 22:52
Growth or devastation, wealth or poverty, democracy or dictatorship? Can Georgia's optimistic reports on the country's prosperity be trusted? The tourist season has hardly begun while the government asserts it will bring incredible profits. Well, tourism is ok. GeorgiaTimes correspondent went to Georgia to see what is true in today's Sakartvelo and what is not.
Russia has no diplomatic relations with Georgia, though two countries are connected by direct air flights. This is a paradox.
Any theater begins with a hanger, and Georgia - with an airport, or a visa to be exact. Russian citizens have their passports marked with a sticker - literally "without walking away from the cash register". Visas are given immediately upon arrival. The price is GEL 50 (nearly 850 RUR). It is possible to exchange money and pay immediately: there is a small bank window close to the "visa department", and even the exchange rate is decent.
Yet, only money is not enough: there is an application form to be filled in. Questions are standard: who you are, what you do, what is the purpose of your trip and how long you are staying in Sakartvelo. Application forms are distributed by a smiling employee of the border service.
- What language do I fill it in? - I ask. She takes a moment to reply as if she is considering something.
- In English. Or Russian. Better - well, you choose, - she said failing to make a choice and waving her hand in the end. She looks 30 maximum but her knowledge of the "language of occupants" is excellent.
The "visa department" takes an unemotional look at the application form filled in the Russian language, the receipt, thumbing my passport through indifferently and finally, stamping it, they send me to the border control. This is where the visa is pasted in - a very beautiful one, white and blue with a hologram and pictures. Not like modest visas of Turkey or Egypt that tourists get on arrival. This one is almost similar to the Schengen visa or is even more beautiful. Nothing to add - Caucasus loves showing off.
On my way from the airport I ask a taxi driver in Tbilisi:
- Do you have many tourists coming to Georgia? Where do they come from?
- Mostly from Baltic states, Israel, Turkey... Europe sometimes.
- And Russia?