Come dine with me: lunch with locals in Georgia and Armenia
One of the greatest things about travel is the people you meet. You can see all sorts of incredible sights on your journeys, but often the moments that stick with you involve others, whether it’s new friends you make during the trip or brief encounters with locals in your destination.
We think getting the chance to mingle with locals is a fantastic part of travelling, particularly in places with cultures quite different from our own. Learning about local life, customs and traditions gives you a fantastic insight into that particular part of the world. That’s why we’ve started to add more community experiences to our holidays, particularly our small group tours. As well as offering a fantastic experience for our customers, they play a vital role in supporting local communities in our destinations – something that’s a key part of our BE Better programme of initiatives.
A great example of this is on our Armenia and Georgia tours. In both countries, we enjoy experiences that give back to communities, injecting money into local economies and helping to ensure that tourism in these areas is sustainable. We work closely with our travel partners out in our destinations, ensuring that they follow these same values in creating holidays that make a difference.
Family lunch in rural Armenia
After visiting the Temple of Garni, we head to the nearby village for lunch. A local family welcomes us into their house, where they’ll prepare and serve a traditional Armenia meal. They’ll make lavash (an Armenian flatbread baked in an underground oven), which will be served alongside locally sourced meat or fish coated in a delicious homemade marinade. You can even have a tipple of the local apricot or fig vodka to wash it down!
Not only will you enjoy an authentic Armenian meal, but you’ll have the chance to chat with our hosts as they cook (you can even help them prepare the bread if you like), learning a little more about rural life, Armenian family values and local traditions. After lunch, they’ll show us around the village.
“With these elements, we are promoting respect towards the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, conserving their cultural heritage and traditional values. We also ensure viable, long-term economic operations, providing socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders that are fairly distributed, including stable employment and income-earning opportunities and social services to host communities.” Anna Khachaturova, CEO/President of our travel partner in Armenia
Tea break with a Molokan family
On our way from Armenia to Georgia, we’ll stop off in a rural part of the country’s north east to a village that’s home to Molokans. This minority community settled here after being exiled from Russia several centuries ago, and their lifestyle is still broadly the same as it was some 200 years ago.
We’ll enjoy a cup of tea (prepared using a traditional samovar teapot) in one of the homes in the village, getting to know some of the villagers and finding out a little about their unique culture and customs. It’s a part of Armenia that isn’t often seen by visitors, but the money that these visits provide goes some way to helping them preserve their way of life.
Wining and dining in Georgia
On the Georgia part of our tour, we’ll enjoy lunch with a local family in Kazbegi. We’ll tuck into a home-cooked meal, perhaps with Georgian wine or chacha, the local firewater. Depending on the menu, you might be able to watch and see how khinkali, traditional Georgian dumplings, are made.
We also go wine tasting and have the chance to learn how to make Georgian bread and churchhela sweets at a vineyard (if it’s harvest season, we might even be able to see some of the wine production in action, too). It’s a great way to see some traditional cooking methods and to sample delicious local produce.
“We support the local community in terms of employment and sustainability. The guests are served local wine and local seasonal produce and meals are prepared by the host, family and friends. It is part of the Georgian tradition that guests are from God and we are delighted to make our guests happy.” George Kalandadze, our travel partner in Georgia
Our BE Better ethos covers community initiatives, wildlife protection and conservation projects. Find out more about how we’re working towards more sustainable holidays on our website.
Article published on: 30th April, 2021
Although she loves a lie-in at home, Laura is often up and about before dawn on holiday. She’s watched the sun rise over the Grand Canyon, Uluru and Angkor Wat, but her favourite was seeing the first light of the New Year sweeping across the yacht-dotted waters of Sydney Harbour.