Day 1: Old Tbilisi city tour - Metekhi Temple - Narikala Fortress - Sulfur Baths - Synagogue - Sioni Cathedral.
Day 2: Bodbe Monastery - Signagi - Wine tasting at Pheasant's Tears Winery - village of Tibaani vineyard visit.
Day 3: Gurjanni - visit to old marani (wine cellar) - wine tasting led by professional sommelier - Telavi - visit to Enoteca, wine repository, housed in Prince Chavchavadze estate.
Day 4: Lake Lopota - Gremi Monastery - Nekresi Fortress - fishing or boating on the lake - horseriding in the forest - wine tasting and dinner at the wine cellar of the lodge.
Day 5: Back to Tbilisi, free day.
Day 6: Rest at Lake Sevan - swimming - sightseeing.
Day 7: Visit to a cheese farm, making of string cheese - rural cooking with family recipes - traditional feast keff in picturesque Akner.
Day 8: Mount Aragats - Amberd Fortress - Yezidi nomads.
Day 9: Yerevan city tour - Erebuni Fortress - Fruit Bazaar - contemporary Armenian cuisine with famous chef - farewell dinner at trendy Ararat Hall.
Day 10: Free day in Yerevan.
Day 1: Tbilisi, Georgia’s bustling capital.
In the morning meet your tour leader and other group participants. Proceed to a full day sightseeing tour of Tbilisi, extraordinary for its turbulent history, elegant and remarkable architecture destroyed and restored anew through centuries. Walking in the old town, visit Metekhi church, Narikala fortress, Abanotubani (District of Baths), Old Synagogue, Sioni cathedral and Anchiskhati basilica. Evening walk in lively Kala, the medieval city center, small yards encircled by galleries, steep street stairs and houses with patterned balconies create picturesque images of Old Tbilisi. Kala also hosts some of Tbilisi’s trendiest restaurant featuring local and international cuisine. Overnight: Hotel in Tbilisi. Meal plan: Breakfast.
Day 2: Signagi, town of love.
After breakfast leave Tbilisi and start your tour of Kakheti, Georgia's wine country. Our destination today is the royal town of Signagi. First we visit Bodbe Monastery, resting place of St. Nino. As a young girl, Nino brought Christianity to Georgia in the fourth century by plaiting her hair together with grape vines to form a cross.
From Bodbe, back to Signagi, a UNESCO world heritage site, cobbled streets and terra cotta tile-roofed homes with colorful carved balconies and breathtaking views of the Alazani Valley give it a very charming character. We will continue to Pheasant’s Tears Winery in a 250 year old tasting hall. Pheasant’s Tears Winery takes its name from an old Georgian saying that only the finest wine will make a pheasant cry tears of joy.
Rkatsiteli, a full-bodied dry white wine, Saperavi a deep, rich red wine are the highlights of this tasting session. After the tasting, we will travel down to the Pheasant’s Tears vineyard in the village of Tibaani to see where the grapes are grown and to learn more about the process of making wine. Back to Signagi.
Overnight: Hotel in Signagi. Meal plan: Breakfast.
Day 3: Gurjaani and Enoteca, Travel Back in Time.
After breakfast we drive to Gurjaani, one of the centers of Georgia's wine industry. Here we visit a converted old marani (wine cellar) where we have an opportunity to participate in grape harvest, pressing and other steps of winemaking depending on the season. We will see the 200 year old wine press and earthen crocks (kvevri), a clay jar in the ground used to storewine.
We taste some of the finest wines produced by the proud owners, a professional sommelier will lead the wine tasting for us. We can bottle wine which we take out of kvevri and have it sealed for us. We will also have an opportunity to attend the brewing of Georgian vodka ("Zavodoba"), a very interesting process. Proceed to the Museum of Prince Alexander Chavchavadze, father of Georgian romanticism.
Walk in the beautiful garden of the estate and Enoteca, wine repository. Founded in the 19th c and housed in Chavchavadze’s wine cellar, Enoteca features a unique collection of 70 Georgian and European wines including the oldest Polish Honey of 1814 and Georgian Saperavi of 1841. Overnight at hotel in Telavi. Overnight: Hotel in Signagi. Meal plan: Breakfast.
Day 4: Lake Lopota.
Our destination today is beautiful Lopota Lake lost in the mountains. Immerse in the calmness and beauty of the nature, rest at Lopota Lodge built with cobbled stone, lined with bricks and roofed with old-style Georgian tilework, watch gliding swans and fleets of ducks swimming on the lake.
After rest groups divide into smaller parts based on activities of interest: sightseeing in nearby Gremi Monastery and Nekresi Fortress, fishing or boating on Lopota, or horseriding in the woods for the more energetic. Gather for wine tasting at the marani (wine cellar) followed by a delicious dinner featuring khachapuri, khinkali and other delicacies. Overnight at Lopota Lodge. Overnight: Lopota Lodge. Meal plan: Breakfast, dinner.
Day 5: Tbilisi.
Transfer to Tbilisi and free afternoon with time for last minute shopping or independent exploration. A unique option this evening is visit to Nabadi folk theatre where a show of music, dance and song about Georgian legends and culture awaits us. Overnight: Hotel in Tbilisi. Meal plan: Breakfast.
Day 6: Lake Sevan.
After breakfast set off for Lake Sevan to start our culinary adventures in Armenia. Border crossing and arrival at Sevan, check-in at your chalet-style hotel at the beach perfect for rest and relaxation. With water-skiing, swimming and boat trips on offer, you may find it hard to just lie on these paradise beaches. Historical and architectural gems are never far away - the ancient monastery on the peninsula, the Stone Garden with unique carved cross-stones and much more (boat trip, weather permitting). Enjoy the beaches, enjoy the scenery, experience the unspoiled relaxation, which is Armenia! Overnight: Hotel at Lake Sevan. Meal plan: Breakfast.
Day 7: String Cheese and Rural Cooking.
In the morning you will be expected at the farm of a cheese maker in the midst of beautiful rolling hills of Tavush. You will tour the farm and see the making of string cheese typical to the region, thereafter tasting of cheeses at various stages of maturation will be offered. A short drive to Aker village well away from regular tourist trails.
Welcome drinks on the terrace of the farmhouse and half day dedicated to home style cooking. Today we prepare tolma, stuffed vegetable dish, the most famous of traditional Armenian dishes. In addition to grape leaves (winter tolma), we also stuff cabbage leaves, eggplants, tomatoes and peppers (summer tolma). Armine, the village headman’s wife, demonstrates techniques passed down through generations.
Later traditional feast keff at the open terrace of the farm with the view of dramatic Debed gorge, the head of the family will be your tamada (toastmaster) governing the event with age-old rules of Caucasian hospitality. Overnight at the farmhouse. Overnight: Farmhouse in Akner Meal plan: Breakfast, dinner.
Day 8: Mount Aragats and Yezidi Nomads.
Start today with a trip to the highest peak of Transcaucasia, Mount Aragats (4,090m), an extinct volcano. Acclimatizing gradually as we ascend the beautiful countryside of Aragats, we reach Amberd Fortress on the southern slope of the mountain. Breathtaking views of the fortress and citadel, snow covered peaks of Aragats, sun scorched grasslands dressed in wildflowers and abundant birdlife combine to provide an unforgettable experience.
If we come here during summer months we can visit high-mountain camps of friendly Yezidi tribes who tend their sheep under the towering peaks of Aragats. We will discover the traditional way of life of these people of the mountains, visiting their homes, try fresh cheese and yogurt. Overnight: Hotel in Yerevan. Meal plan: Breakfast.
Days 9: Yerevan and Contemporary Armenian Cuisine. In the morning head to the tour of Yerevan, reputedly one of the oldest cities in the world to have been continuously inhabited. We start our exploration with the Republic Square with it magnificent buildings enhanced by singing fountains, continue to Erebouni Fortress, the birthplace of Yerevan. Take a guided tour of the fortress and explore the impressive ruins.
Drive back to city center, stopping at the Railway Station to see the beautiful monument of David of Sasun, national hero. Visit to Pak Shuka, market on Mashtots Avenue. Wonder among the stalls piled with fresh, dried and marinated fruits and vegetables, say hello to the spices and herbs you have used in your cooking classes. Back to hotel to unwind. Your gala cooking class with a focus on contemporary Armenian cuisine begins at 17.00 following by a farewell dinner at trendy Ararat Hall Restaurant.
Your guide will be Sedrak Mamulyan, a well-known chéf, leader of Armenian Cuisine Revival Association. He has won a number of awards, wrote cookery book and featured on television programs, all of which has added to his fame and that of the restaurant. Dinner with matching wines will follow. Overnight: Hotel in Yerevan. Meal plan: Breakfast, dinner.
Day 10: Free day in Yerevan.
Day at leisure to relax and enjoy Yerevan at your own pace. A visit to Sunday Vernisage market, the largest souvenir market in the Caucasus is a recommended option. Overnight: Hotel in Yerevan.
Meal plan: Breakfast
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Europe Armenia Georgia Local Culture Food & Wine Cultural Journey