I traveled from Moscow to Yerevan, Armenia (see related post in my travel to Armenia) and decided to hop on to a marshutka (van) to Tbilisi, Georgia which is only five hours away from Yerevan.
At 7.30 a.m. I checked out from my hostel and asked for a taxi to take me to the international bus station to Georgia. Everybody advises (including my lonely planet book) to be there early, before 9:00 a.m. to get a good seat and a good van. It’s 6,500.00 ARD (or roughly 18 USD) which is not a bad deal considering the level of comfort you’ll be getting comparing to a bus or a train which I heard is beyond words.
The road to Georgia (on the Armenian side) was splendid. Beautiful. Like am just in awe of creation. Snow covered mountains on each side of the road, everything’s white, like I died and went to heaven… am just like wow! Krasiva. They (the Armenian Tourism Dept) could totally exploit this part of their country by having ski resorts, I could just totally envision some extreme winter adventure sports played there…. have you guys seen that movie in triple X with Vin Diesil and they have that seen on extreme snow boarding? I think it was shot there! :).
After three and a half hours and two WC stops, we are now in the Armenian – Georgian border, it was like a scene from a movie, people queuing, big buses & trucks of gas & petrol were weighed, serious looking border patrol officers and men in black jackets were everywhere . We all disembarked from the van, walked to the passport control and hand in my passport. The officer stamped something on my Armenian visa then I proceeded to walked on to a bridge crossing the river divide between Armenia and Georgia. I’m now geographically and politically out of Armenia and about to step on to the land of Georgia. I was nervous.
Again, another queue and another passport control operation (on the Georgian side). I went directly to the visa section and filled in a paper with information about myself– standard questions like, your purpose of visiting, place of stay, inviting organization or who invited you, your job etc… After filling in the paper I was directed to go to the next window and pay 20.00 USD (I didn’t have any Lari with me, the Georgian money). The guy who worked behind the glass window was super slow, there were two Iranians before me, I was worried that my marshutka will leave without me.
Finally it was my turn, he asked me how long will I stay in Georgia, I said maximum of three days as this was only a side trip for me, I have to go back to Yerevan by the 5th of March to fly back to Moscow. The next officer at the visa section took his time turning the pages of my passport for a hundred times… I was sooooo tempted to be a diva and yell wtf is his problem. But no, I tried to be calm and pretended I was cool whatever it is his trying to find or do with my passport and application. After about 30 minutes of standing and tweedling my fingers in frustration. He gave me four days.
The process of getting the visa wasn’t that complicated, . It took a bit longer for me than the Iranians because I have a Philippine passport and I am from the Philippines, and they probably don’t know where the Philippine is and what kind of relation does Georgia have with my archipelago country, which I think is fair enough but sometimes could be f*cking annoying.
Hoping that my mashutka didn’t leave without me I ran like mad towards the rest of the Georgian gate border and felt relieved that they (the driver and the rest of my now angry co-passengers) were still there waiting and looking out for me behind the wires of the Georgian gate. I profusely apologized to everybody both in English and Russian.
I thought I was the last passenger they were waiting but there was another woman whom we waited for another 20 minutes, some of the women asked me, if I saw her and where was she? Then, I remembered the tall Georgian woman inside the office of the visa officer yelling and crying…. I tried to tell them these by miming in Russian seems like they understood my story, after considering my report all have decided that she has passport problems and that we should leave now (that is, without her).
So, yeah, basically my fellow Filipino compatriots, we can go to Georgia and get the visa on arrival at Tbilisi’s international airport or through the land borders of Gerogia with Armenia or Iran or Azerbajian and even Turkey.