Summer 2019, Armenia - Jul 19 - Jul 30, 2019
Overall - great trip. I was a very passive planner for this trip - my first using a company like KimKim - and I accept some responsibility for the itinerary disappointments - the greatest of which was that we saw way too many cathedrals and monasteries. At one point I told Maro that we were Jewish and would like to visit some Jewish areas or synagogues, which we did on one of our free days after the trip, but there was nothing included in the itinerary.
Our driver Achiko was great: he was helpful and friendly and did "extras" that we appreciated, such as bringing us some of his father's wine and cha cha and his mother's sauce and providing a copy of the Georgian music we heard while in the van. He was always on-time and good-natured. The van was comfortable and clean. His driving was smooth. His English language skills need to be improved.
Due to problems with airlines, we flew out July 19 instead of July 18 which meant that we missed one day in Tbilisi. I took out travel insurance so would like feedback on whether we get a refund for one night at the hotel. I notified Maro of the delay and Achiko was there July 20th at the airport for us.
Our first day with Achiko we went to the history museum and National Gallery - which we LOVED - and some other places like Matsminda park.
Jvari was okay as was Mtsketa... that was early in the trip and we were tired from having a catch a 5:35 am flight the day before.
The Prince Alexander Chavchavadze's museum house was a big disappointment. We were told we would get 5 glasses of wine, and we only received 1. The man serving wine at the museum was unfriendly. The museum was unimpressive, and we received no information about the museum. I told Maro I wanted to visit the wine-growing region. We did - but didn't get to drink any wine or learn about the wine-making process. The visit was a huge disappointment because we drove and drove to arrive in the region... for what? On my own I wandered around and found a fancy hotel that had a wine bar... and I could have sampled wines but it was time to go... big big disappointment.
Uplistsikhe - great! Ushguli - great! Except... we drive around for 1.5 hours trying to find the place we were going to stay. I think Achiko thought Mazeri was the name of a hotel.... who knew it was a village about 30-40 minutes from Mestia? Began to lose our patience... Maro said he had communicated this to me... that we would not be staying in Mestia... I think he should have sent an updated itinerary. He may have sent the "final" itinerary... but I don't think he did.
But Mazeri the next morning was lovely... and the site for several walks 10-12 km that could have been fun to do. But... not on itinerary. Instead we got to "wander" around Ushguli... not quite like hiking/walking I had hoped to do.
Gori was interesting - especially the Stalin museum.
Martivili - no big deal. Lots of rain the day before meant that we didn't get to go on the boat ride (which apparently was not very long anyway). Why did we even go here? WE drove and drove and then walked a tiny big along the paved trail. Don't think this was much of a destination.
Borjormi was interesting... but we never went to the National Park of Borjomi...?? Walked around a park within Borjormi... a city park.... ??
Green Monastery was lovely.
Vardzia and Rabath Fortress were a lot of fun.
Old Mestia hotel in Tbilisi was great.
The hotel we stayed in 2 different nights in Kutaisi - nice location; lousy mattress.
Bed and breakfast in Marzia was great - lovely hostess.
Rabath Fortress was wonderful in every way.
Food - wonderful!!! Portions were very generous, and we felt guilty for not being able to eat it all. Only not good meal was in Borjomi... we were only ones in restaurant... and we had to order the meal ourselves (which is NOT a problem at all... it is just that the food was provided at all the other restaurants we went to for lunch). To clarify - we did not PAY for the meal - Achiko did... but the whole thing seemed "off". Why was noone else at this restaurant? Why was the food not ready for us... (I know I sound spoiled: I'm not. I just want to give you the feedback that this day was different from the others, in case you didn't know).
Billing: After taking the trip, I realize I would have liked to have received more information on food provided in advance, and also an itemized bill for expenses: hotels; lunches; drivers' fee; etc. We did not know anything about the food we would be receiving (enough for a family of giants) and I don't know how much I paid for what.
Reimbursement: do we receive refunds for anything that we couldn't go - such as our missed night in Tbilisi on July 19 or the lack of a canyon ride in Martvili.
Overall, I appreciate that KimKim did all the research and arrangements so that my husband and i could visit many places in Georgia in a country that we knew very little about. I have never been this passive in planning, and it was a learning experience to travel this way. It was my choice to be passive. I think to improve your services: either an initial phone conversation or more questioning of the travelers would be helpful to flesh out for the trip planner what travel elements are important to the travelers to make sure that they experience those elements in the trip. I really wanted to do a bit of hiking and visit a wine region to learn more about wines in Georgia. Neither really happened. I did see lots of monasteries and cathedrals... but that was never really a priority for me.
Also, I originally wanted to go to Armenia and then changed my mind to go to Georgia. Small detail but Maro is located in Yerevan...????Why was he assigned to plan my trip?