This article is not about nature, sightseeing, or ancient monuments; but rather about the unusual characteristics and facts about Georgia that may be surprising to foreigners:

Am I supposed to do this too?

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Pass by any church or even see it from a distance and you will see some Georgian people crossing themselves out of respect even while driving a motorcycle! When walking by many Georgians stop and turn to face a church, crossing their chest three times and bowing right there on a busy city sidewalk. Touching or kissing a stone or an liturgical icon is also a common custom.

Run Forrest! Run!


Crossing the road in Tbilisi
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When foreigners imagine what is the biggest danger of a visit to Georgia they think of war, invasion, civil unrest, kidnapping or extortion. You will not likely experience any of those things but instead risk life and limb trying to cross the street. Georgian drivers don’t yield to pedestrians, even while they are on the crosswalk. There are some pedestrian underpasses tunnels in some of the higher trafficked areas but they are often quite smelly but safe.

That’s how they park here


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Double parking on the road, leaving your vehicle perpendicular to fit into a tiny space, facing the wrong way, taking up the sidewalk or even boxing in other cars so they can not leave are par for the course in Georgian parking.

A group of activists has declared new initiative. They will put stickers on the front windows of improperly parked cars and thus mark the disobedient drivers. Hmm… will it educate Georgian drivers?

Buddy can you spare some change?


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Stepping into the elevator in an older residential buildings constructed during soviet times, you may find an ironic piece of capitalism: a coin box that requires payment in order for the elevator to give you a lift. The requirement of about two American cents seems more of an annoyance than a moneymaker. When you arrive home with a bundle of groceries in your arms and have run out of small coins, taking the elevator is luxury you cannot afford.

Modi, Modi, Modi

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Walk down any busy street where parking is at a premium and you will hear a man shouting at a car trying to squeeze into a tight space: “modi, modi, modi”. It means to “keep coming”. He is the Modi Man, a self appointed, unofficial parking attendant dressed in a day-glow vest and waving a baton. Modi Men rely on the tips from they get from the drivers they help park their cars. The Modi Man will often block a few spaces off with an old chair or something else and will sell you the right to park on this public spot for some a bit of pocket change.

The 40 Year Old Virgin


Photo Credit: The 40 Year Old Virgin Movie Poster

Remember the movie of the same name starring Steve Carell? In Georgia they are many women like this and they are affectionately known as Kargi Gogo or “good girl”. Georgia, being a traditional culture strongly influenced by the Orthodox Christian church, encourages traditional family values even in the face of feminism and a budding sexual revolution. Girls often live with their parents and help take care of everyone in the household. They will wait for the right man to come along to marry before giving up her virginity.

Compassion for beggars


Photo Source: medea1.wiklauri

In many cities, beggars on the street are mostly ignored by the locals passing by; not in Georgia. Here the local people will always give at least a couple coins, sometimes even going out of their way to stop and give something. Georgians can make a stranger feel like a loved relative by extending their fabled warmth and hospitality. They like to say, “A guest is a gift from God”.

Drive me crazy!

tbilisi traffic transportation in georgia

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Georgian drivers do not follow the rules. A street marked ONE WAY is seen as only a suggestion. The lane markings on the roadway are only for decoration as no one stays in their lane. Instead, they ride the stripe as if it were a rail and drift around obstacles with no mind to who is either side of them, even into oncoming traffic risking a serious head on collision.

If you want to rent a car to visit the mountains, seaside or tourist attractions, the problems are not as bad on the country roads once you leave the city. However, everyone will try to pass you no matter your speed is. Georgians have no sense of patience anywhere and feel that they must always proceed to the head of the line no matter who or what is waiting ahead of them in the queue. 

Don’t bug me


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In summer, when you open the windows for fresh air or to cool your room you will notice that there often are no screens installed to keep the insects out. At first you may think that maybe there are no flying pests and in fact there are. Screens cost money and scratching mosquito bites are free.

Cool at any cost

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Georgia is a developing nation, maybe even poor, with a GDP of only around $3,700 per capita. None the less, you will see many Mercedes and BMWs being driven around by locals. Some of these cars have been modified to burn natural gas rather than petrol because it is less expensive. Many had been damaged and repaired, bringing down the car’s value. Just the same, many of the roads in Georgia are unkempt and the roads to the villages outside the city are impassible to take by car. A sturdy SUV is a better choice even in the city since jumping over the curb is sometimes required for parking and squeezing by other cars.  See item number 3 above. To top it off, ownership of a cool smartphone comes before insurance. Just take a loan at the bank at a high interest rate, it’s the Georgian way!