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Holidays in Georgia

Understanding Georgia

Positioned between Israel and Egypt, Gaza isn't quite the pure hellhole you might expect given TV coverage, although this birthplace of the intifada and one of the most overpopulated bits on the planet isn't exactly paradise on earth, either It does have reasonably modern infrastructure and architecture despite its troubles, but a UN report as early as 1952 stated that the Strip was too small to support its population of 300,000, and now, there are now well over one million inhabitants and the latest figures from the Palestinian Authority put unemployment amongst those at a whopping 79% Most inhabitants are descendants of Palestinian refugees who fled the 1948 war but were denied entry into Egypt proper

History

Gaza has been around for a while: the earliest known reference is an inscription in the Temple of Amun at Karnak, Egypt, dated 1500 BC, which states that the town of Gaza is 'flourishing' And for a long time it did: a staging post on trade routes connecting Asia and Persia with Arabia, Egypt and Africa, even the name means "treasure" in Arabic Alexander the Great laid siege to the town in 332 BC, executing 10,000 defenders after being held off for two months Later, the town was held by the Romans, the Crusaders, the Mamluks, the Ottomans and briefly even by the French in 1799, when Napoleon Bonaparte set up camp on his way to defeat in Egypt The Turks took it back, then lost it to the British in World War I The Egyptian army grabbed it during the 1948 war that led to Israel's independence, opening camps for Palestinian refugees - and the current situation began when Israel occupied the Strip in 1967

Spurred by the violence of the 1987-1993 Intifada "Uprising", Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed a "Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements" in 1993, under which the Palestinian Authority PA was created to govern the Gaza Strip and the West Bank for a transitional period "not exceeding five years" as a step towards full independence Parts of the territories were indeed handed over the PA between 1994 and 1999, but the peace plans were derailed by the second intifada that broke out in September 2000, unleashing another spiral of violence

Israel unilaterally disengaged from Gaza in 2005, evacuating three Jewish settlements and withdrawing its troops from the territory It did however retain control of the airspace and the coastline in addition to the fact the entire region is circled by a large armed security fence The Islamist Hamas won elections in 2006 and violently kicked out the remnants of the Palestinian Authority in 2007 Under Hamas rule, the rain of Qassam rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel increased, and Israel responded by locking down the borders down tighter than ever and conducting raids against suspected militants From December 2008 to January 2009, Israel launched a massive coordinated air, naval, and land offensive As of January 2009, the Israelis have disengaged and Hamas remains in tenuous control, but the future remains unclear

Geography

The Gaza Strip is a narrow, 40-km long slice of land between the Mediterranean to the west and the Negev desert to the east Egypt lies to the south, the north and east border Israel The urban sprawl of Gaza City, mostly stretching along and around the 3-km long Omar al-Mukhtar Street, covers much of the north The other main towns of Khan Yunis and Rafah are near the southern border, with most of the rest covered with agricultural land

A bit of terminology disentanglement: Gaza Strip refers to the entire 40-by-6 kilometer patch of territory Gaza City refers to the town itself, in the northern part of the strip, but due to huge population growth the City now sprawls into many of the surrounding villages and it's a tough task to say what is a part of the City and what isn't Both city and strip are pretty much interchangeably referred to as Gaza and this guide will follow suit

Climate

Temperate, mild winters, dry and warm to hot summers

Terrain

Flat to rolling, sand and dune covered coastal plain Cultivated land

Highest point: Abu 'Awdah Joz Abu 'Auda 105 m

Talking in Georgia

The standard language is Arabic Hebrew is also understood to some extent, but English is a safer option

What to see in Georgia

Gaza is not exactly a top tourist destination and most of its attractions have taken quite a beating during the past 50 years The following are all in Gaza City

  • The Great Mosque Jamaa al-Akbar makes up for its lacklustre appearance with an interesting history: it's a converted Crusader church built on the site of a Hellenic temple with pillars from a 3rd-century Jewish synagogue
  • More educational might be a UNRWA-arranged visit to one of the refugee camps that dot the strip The UNRWA office is on al-Azhar St, near the Islamic University, call ahead to see if they can arrange a little tour Your most probable destination is the optimistically named Beach Camp, a warren of concrete huts and open sewers housing 63,000 people, built next to a sandy beach - and you can walk there on your own, 15 minutes to the north from the intersection of Omar al-Mukhtar St with the seafront road UNRWA wisely recommends avoiding military clothing The Jabaliya refugee camp is also a nearby option
  • Hamam al-Sumara The last of the 'turkish baths' in Gaza Different hours for men and women, excellent service and a proper scrub down Between Palestine Square and the Saladin Road

What to do in Georgia

  • Crazy Water Park

Buying stuff in Georgia

Despite the intense conflict and rhetoric, Gazans use the Israeli shekel But bring some boxes of cigarettes into the Strip and everyone will be your friend However, please note the policemen at the Hamas checkpoint into Gaza are now opening all bags and disposing of any alcohol since early 2009 Do not bring alcohol into Gaza, it could land you into serious trouble and it is always good to respect local Islamic customs

  • Gaza Mall http://wwwgazamallps This elegant new mall is the place to be to escape the hubbub of Gaza's bustling Rimal district With a fully-stocked supermarket, fast food restaurant and multiple shops, Gazans have quickly taken to this place Enjoy the relaxing fountains if you have had enough of shopping or need a break The Gaza Mall is comparable to most Western-style malls only in structure and comfort, but not even remotely in size You will usually find it packed to the brim with residents of Rimal in the summer escaping the midday heat and may quickly find you want to escape elsewhere
  • PLO Flag Shop A bit tough to find ask around but unmistakable once you spot it It's the place to buy Palestinian flags, stickers, badges, and pennants It was also famous for the legendary inflatable Yasser Arafat - a truly bizarre blow-up tennis racket thingy emblazoned with a map of Palestine on one side and a familiar fuzzy visage on the other - but as of January 2005, they only had one left, and weren't selling at any price
  • Interesting sculptures / lampshades fashioned from old cigarette cartons
  • Foustouk and simsimiya The former is a sticky peanuty snack The latter is its sesame cousin An elderly man in Gaza City with a grey tweed jacket crops up on a different street corner when he has a fresh batch

Food and eating in Georgia

Usual Arabic cheap eats are available anywhere Head to the posh suburb of Rimal for fancier food; the restaurant in the Windmill Hotel is nice Also keep in mind that if you wish to bring in any food, you should first check which foods are and are not acceptable under Islam If you are caught with forbidden food, it may lead to trouble with the authorities or the local population Finally, it is not unheard of to be invited over for dinner

  • Aldeira Restaurant On the seaside terrace, this restaurant serves lovely mezes small mediterranean-style dishes, including the Gazan speciality Daqqa a sometimes very spicy chili salad, very nice They also have some tasty main courses: try the shrimps in tomato sauce, baked in the oven, and served in a clay pot And don't miss out on the fresh strawberry juice! Enhanced with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, it is higly enjoyable Remember that the sale of alcohol in Gaza is restricted and that as of most recently, you cannot bring it in with you when you arrive in the Strip
  • Matouk Behind the legislative council building Serves an excellent chicken tawwouk
  • Roots Club Cairo St, Remal in the heart of Gaza City +972 8 2888666 info@rootsclubps +972 8 2888999 http://wwwrootsclubps Fine dining Offers both high end Arabian/Mediterranean cuisine and cheaper fast food at the Big Bite annex The restaurant frequently caters for special events, including foreign dignitaries and heads of non-governmental organizations
  • Seafood Restaurant just north of al-Deira hotel Very good seafood restaurant

Drinking in Georgia

Due to increasingly strong Hamas influences alcohol is no longer available Alcohol is forbidden in Islam, and Hamas, as a conservative Islamic group will prohibit it The last place for a visitor to drink was the UN Club However, the Club was bombed by unknown attackers on New Years' Eve 2006 If you do manage to find some booze, however, you should not attempt to go out under the influence; you may land in a very bad situation indeed If you are caught with booze on your person by Hamas authorities, it will probably be confiscated, and you may be detained

  • Abu Hassera the best fish in town ask anyone they will know where it is!

Accommodation in Georgia

There are several hotels in Gaza However, it is also possible to stay with locals who might even invite you over for a night

  • Aldeira Hotel Al Rasheed Street +972 8 283 8100 info@aldeiraps +972 8 283 8400 http://wwwaldeiraps $125-185USD/nightThe height of Gazan luxury Featuring massive rooms with a view of the sea, a pleasant though by Gaza's standards not superb restaurant with Shisha pipes, although not allowed in the fine Oriental bedrooms this is as good it gets The minibar is non-alcoholic Aldeira will supply a hairdryer, towels, soap, shampoo and conditioner, and a little plate of cookies Don't be alarmed that the water tastes salty The Deira has a back-up generator in the event of power outages, a business center and WiFi Breakfast is complimentary Most international journalists and NGOs stay at the Deira
  • Commodore Hotel Has a sauna, jacuzzi, massage, multiple restaurants, 24-hour room service, a swimming pool, and reportedly Kosher food
  • Grand Palace Hotel Al Rasheed Street +972 8 2849498 +972 8 2849497 http://wwwgrandpalaceps One of the best hotels in Gaza city Built to exceed customers expectation as it is located at the beach side of Gaza city with the direct beach view, the hotel welcomes its guests The distance between the hotel and the city center is approximately 3 km in a quiet peaceful area, where the reach to the city center is easy, while nothing is better than a 5 minute walk to the Mediterranean Grand Palace Hotel Offers accomodation, conference, food and beverage facilities
  • Marna House Gaza's oldest hotel, run by a friendly family

Working in Georgia

Realistically, if you are not either an aid worker, journalist or diplomat, there is no work for you in Gaza There are a number of NGOs offering internships, however, such as the Al-Dameer Association for Human Rights in Gaza, the Palestinian Center For Human Rights and others

Cities in Georgia

abasha  abastumani  adigeni  agara  akhaldaba  akhalgori  akhmeta  ambrolauri  aspindza  bakuriani  bakurianis andeziti  bediani  bolnisi  borjomi  didi lilo  dioknisi  dmanisi  gagra  gali  gardabani  gori  gurjaani  java  jvari  kaspi  kazbegi  kharagauli  khashuri  khobi  khoni  khulo  kojori  kornisi  kulashi  kvaisi  kvareli  lagodekhi  lajanurhesi  lentekhi  makhinjauri  manglisi  marneuli  martvili  mestia  naruja  ninotsminda  ochamchira  oni  pitsunda  sagarejo  samtredia  senaki  shaumiani  shorapani  shuakhevi  signagi  sioni  sukhumi  surami  tbilisi  tkibuli  tkvarcheli  tsagveri  tsalenjikha  tsalka  tskaltubo  tskneti  tsnori  ureki  vale  vani  zahesi  zugdidi  

What do you think about Georgia?

How expensive is Georgia?
(1 GEL = 0.41 USD)
Meal in inexpensive restaurant12 GEL
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)39.2 GEL
McDonalds meal16.58 GEL
Local beer (0.5 draft)2.22 GEL
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 2.79 GEL
Cappuccino3.18 GEL
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)1.05 GEL
Water (0.33 bottle)0.5 GEL
Milk (1l)2.46 GEL
Fresh bread (500g)0.69 GEL
White Rice (1kg)2.42 GEL
Eggs (12) 3.34 GEL
Local Cheese (1kg) 8.13 GEL
Chicken Breast (1kg) 8.53 GEL
Apples (1kg) 1.61 GEL
Oranges (1kg) 2.67 GEL
Tomato (1kg) 1.7 GEL
Potato (1kg) 0.94 GEL
Lettuce (1 head) 1.12 GEL
Water (1.5l)0.95 GEL
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 9.5 GEL
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)1.6 GEL
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 2.49 GEL
Cigarettes2.88 GEL
One way local bus ticket0.47 GEL
Monthly pass for bus28.2 GEL
Taxi start3.33 GEL
Taxi 1km0.56 GEL
Taxi 1hour waiting7.76 GEL
Gasoline (1 liter) 2.31 GEL
Utilities for a "normal" apartment131.7 GEL
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 24.29 GEL
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre 611.31 GEL
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre 368.72 GEL
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre 701.9 GEL
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