May 2012 • Even though it's been two decades since it left the Soviet Union, Georgia is still nursing a bad hangover. Lacking the natural resources of neighbor-to-the-east Azerbaijan and the human resources of neighbor-to-the-west Turkey, the country is an economic laggard, with poverty and disrepair similar to Moscow circa 1996. Georgians are gruffly warm and hospitable, and there's a lot of hopeful renovation in Tbilisi as well as in several other tourist draws. Some people complain that the changes are inauthentic (like the faux alpine stylings of newly renovated Mestia), but it's hard to argue with the jobs and revenue that are being created. Plus it's time for the rest of the world to learn how much Georgia contributed to civilization (wine!) long before it fell under the Soviet Union's murderous thumb.
Bridge of Peace
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Mtskheta
Joseph Stalin Museum, Gori