Visited in July 2015

Sometimes you plan and research a place before visiting. Other times, someone suggests a place you've never heard of and you just say, "sure, I'll go." As you can guess, I am about to talk about the latter. I first ever heard of this town about an hour before I set off to go there. It was during my first visit to Georgia and I was, at that time, in the mountain town at the base of Kazbek. I had an extra day, and one of my friends from the trip suggested we rent bicycles and ride to the only other thing written on the map: Juta,.

Within the hour, we (two friends and I) got the bikes and were off. About ten minutes later, civilization had entirely disappeared and nature had taken over. To one side of us, there was a calm, blue stream, to the other lay fields of every shade of green imaginable, and surrounding everything were the giant mountains of the northern Caucasus. While this was an incredible environment to be in, there was unfortunately one thing that vanished along with civilization: paved roads (and for that matter, even solidly packed dirt roads). All that was there leading us to the town was this semi-existent trail of dirt and rocks, which, as we soon found out, was nearly impossible to ride on, especially when going up hill. The hot sun shined down upon us in the clear blue sky, causing us (well, me at least) to sweat uncontrollably, but we still persisted.

One hour passed... and then two. Here and there, we would see animals and abandon-looking farm buildings, but no sign of a town or village. We began to wonder whether or not it existed at all, so the three of us agreed to cycle for one more hour and if there was still nothing, we would turn back. Finally, about 30 minutes later, we saw it: a few, small tucked away stone and wooden buildings and houses, nestled within the valley. It looked as if it were a place outside of time but was not in any way worn down or in disrepair. There was only one problem. The "road" to this village was entirely uphill and littered with rather large rocks and plant growth. It was not going to be a simple, joyful ride, but I had grown hungry by this point and the village was the closest source to food.

Another half hour passed until we finally made it. By this point I was pretty soaked in sweat, but that didn't seem to matter. I was in a remote Georgian village, away from cities, cars, noise, and tourists. All I needed was coffee and lunch for everything to be perfect, and there just so happened to be a small cafe right in the center. (Well, it looked much more like someone's living room, but the sign said cafe, so we entered.)



I sat down, and to my surprise, I was handed a huge menu with about 6-7 pages worth of items. I wanted to look through it all, but by this time, the hunger had taken over and sustenance was urgent, so I chose soup and an eggplant dish on the first page that looked nice. The waitress shook her head. "Нет. У нас нет." (No. We don't have it). I then chose a dish of Georgian dumplings with cheese and potato, and again was met with the same response. Finally I asked what they did have and she replied, "Hachapuri." (A Georgian bread stuffed with cheese. Kinda like a pizza but better). I asked if there was anything else and she said no, so I ended up ordering the hachapuri with two cups of coffee, and wondered why they still bothered to use the extensive menu if they only had one item to cook Nonetheless, the hachapuri soon came and it was delicious so I guess I can't complain.

The layout of the place was about as comfortable and relaxed as you could possibly imagine. The tables, chairs, walls and floor were all a dark brown wood and the small kitchen reminded me of the house where I grew up. We hung around for another hour, savoring the peace and quiet and drinking the coffee, before finally deciding it was time to go back (which actually turned out to be much easier since this time it was all down hill), so I said goodbye to the village for now, probably to return another day.