Day 5. Tbilisi: The Jvari Monastery and Mount Mtatsminda
On the way back to Tbilisi, you stop at the Jvari monastery high above the Aragvi River and marvel at the former capital of Georgia, Mzcheta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Tbilisi, you have free time in the afternoon for a shopping spree on the famous Rustaveli Avenue. Alternatively, you can take a cable car to the top of Mount Mtatsminda for more spectactular views.
Overnight: Hotel Builtmore (or similar) (BLD)
Day 6. Gori: In Vino Veritas, a Taste of Georgia’s Wine Regions
Today your train takes you from Tbilisi through the country’s fertile lowlands. You soon arrive In Gori, birthplace of Joseph Stalin, the once General Secretary of the Soviet Union, whose personal railroad car is displayed in a museum. In nearby Uplistsikhe, once a Silk Road trading post, you discover a sixth-century town built into a cave complex. Later a historic wine house opens its cellar just for you. Kartli, Imereti, Kakheti—Georgia’s wine regions are more than 7,000 years old, placing then among the world’s oldest. In the afternoon, your train reaches Borjomi, a famous deep valley resort town that once provided the entire Russian Empire with mineral water. Its beautiful villas, boutique hotels and its curative health spas draw visitors from near and far.
Overnight: On board (BLD)
Day 7. Akhaltsikhe and Vardzia: Land of Castles
From the small city of Akhaltsikhe, over which the Rabati Castle looms, you go on a unforgettable excursion and guided tour of Vardzia, a twelfth-century cave monastery. Reminiscient of a honeycomb, there are more than 3,000 cave dwellings for up to 50,000 people built into the rockface. The brilliance of the frescoes of legendary Queen Tamar in the cave cathedral has not lost its intensity. The train route from Akhaltsikhe through the lesser Caucasus mountains puts everyday Georgia right outside your window—vineyards, idyllic towns, imposing castle towers. From the top of the Bagrati Cathedral, you enjoy the view over the historic city of Kutaisi, just a stone’s throw away from the picturesque Gelati monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Overnight: On board (BLD)
Day 8. Batumi: On the Black Sea
The last stop on your journey is Batumi, Georgia’s second largest city, on the spectacular Black Sea coast. To your left, palm trees. To your right, the sea. In Batumi, it’s a bittersweet goodbye to your private train and its crew. This Georgian port and seaside resort is quaintly situated on a bay against the backdrop of green mountains. The sparkling skyline of the palm-lined promenade is astounding—thanks to recent developments by international investors. Later you enjoy a city tour of Batumi’s historic center, where merchants from all over the world have left their footprints. Orthodox churches, synagogues, and mosques—the city’s stunning architecture is a testament to its diversity. The Batumi Botanical Garden is a subtropical paradise whose terraces on the steep coast provide an amazing view of the seashore. That evening at a delicious farewell dinner, you reminisce with fellow travelers about your journey.
Overnight: Hotel Radisson (or similar) (BLD)
Day 9. Goodbye South Caucasus!
On your final day in the South Caucasus, you head to the airport for your flight home, reflecting on the fulfilling, unforgettable adventure you just completed. (B)
(B) = Breakfast, (L) = Lunch, (D) = Dinner