Suggestions that the Six Nations could be expanded to include Georgia meant I have recently devoted serious attention to getting to Tbilisi for a game. The Under 20s Rugby Championship, hosted in Tbilisi and Kutaisi this year, provided perfect opportunity with several days hosting multiple games to plan around. I’m posting daily for this trip to cover the logistics of a junket taking in finals day, with England contesting the final itself.
Assuming a start point in the UK, for those well endowed with funds and time the Orient Express and a Turkish sleeper train, changing in Istanbul, could get you here. Georgia lies just to the east of Turkey, geographically in Asia, though self-determination alone sees it regarded as the most eastern point in Europe. Either way, a continental journey probably isn’t a great way to kick off a weekend of emotional rugby-related trauma. The only really realistic route, therefore is:
I’m writing this on the final leg of the journey to best illustrate the horror of the journey from Western Europe. I could only find one direct flight from London (Luton to be precise) on WhizAir to Kutaisi, though this was never really practical. Most journeys are indirect with Lufthansa, Aegean, Turkish Airlines, LOT and Air Baltic going via Munich, Athens, Istanbul, Warsaw and Riga respectively. All arrive in the middle of the night, courtesy of three hours time difference and around six hours flying. It can be done for under £300. I just spent eight days of idyllic quality time in Greece with my wife Becky, meaning the Aegean option was one flight.
This idyll was brought crashing down by missing my slot at the Plato Museum, hysterical children, dithery old women losing their walking sticks and losing my cash card up to the 0030 flight arriving at 0400. Airports are depressing places empty and illuminated at night, creating weary annoyance that was only partially mitigated by slugging out of a bottle of Metaxa number seven, evening medicinal, from a bag on the flight. I’m hoping my long time rugby tour accomplice, and the only other person stupid enough to attempt this trip, Clogger, is waiting at the airport with Ginger Ale to mix and sufficient cash to make it to the hotel.
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