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Over the weekend, I began to finalize travel plans for the year. I will go to Montana in a few weeks, then take a short trip to Iceland with my nephew at the end of March. We are waiting for his passport to arrive, and it will be his first journey abroad at age 8. Then it will quickly be summer, my least favorite season, and I will remain in Virginia because I don't like the seasonal summer crowds or heat. In autumn, I need to pick another international destination to explore, and Georgia is at the top of the list. I think October will be a good time, because the suffocating heat of summer will have passed and hopefully there will still be seasonal blooms and greenery before the dull winter arrives. U.S. passport holders no longer need a tourist visa for Georgia, so there are really no hassles other than booking a plane ticket and deciding what to see. In this regard, I need your help. Who has local contacts in Georgia that may be willing to help, or serve as local drivers/guides? As usual, I want to be away from larger cities and in the mountain and village areas.
It's possible I could combine a short trip to Azerbaijan at the end of the journey, but a visa is required for this country. What do I need to know about Georgians and Azerbaijanis? Who has been to these countries, and what are the best regions to visit? I think it will be almost impossible to learn the Georgian alphabet, but I've heard Georgians are very hospitable and I'm a big fan of Georgian cuisine. :) I'm aware of the 2008 conflict, and just finished a book called "The Guns of August 2008", but I don't know the modern political climate between Russia and Georgia.
Thanks, as always, for your advice and guidance! If you know local people involved in the tourism sector who may be willing to help, please send them my contact information!