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★★★★☆

“Georgia Europe the holidays place to enjoy.”

Written on: 02/08/2012 by smilingfred (2 reviews written)

Georgia, Shavnabada, my world experience.
More and more travelers want to stay, if possible in a monastery, well I did and it was a great experience.

For a Dutch volunteer’s tourism project, I had been invited to come for the first time to Georgia/ Europe. The flight was excellent. The food on board was extremely good, much better than many airliners offer today. Real warm meals on unusual flight from Amsterdam to Tbilisi. After nearly more than 3.5 hour fly came I to the old Tbilisi airport.

I wondered myself, who will meet me there at the airport and where will I go and stay. In my mails concerning these questions I have got the following answer: someone in church clothing will be at the airport and will wait for you, but where would I stay the nights?

After the flight, I arrived gloomily at the airport of Tbilisi, at an utterly unknown airport to me then. And wouldn’t it be a joke if no one in church clothing was waiting for me? You can never know after all what may happen. The Georgian language is completely strange to me and what can I do if there is nobody in church clothing waiting for me? Citizens may not help you but the Monks. Monks are exceptions. Monks are for instance an exception in almost everything and not only on the territory of the airport. Straight after my flight landed, on the platform, stood waiting and staring at me the monk Father David, a Georgian Orthodox monk (in church clothing). I took my baggage. He welcomed me and we went for the exit where a BMW with a driver was waiting for us.

Within a few minutes after landing we were on the road, but where too? I tried to investigate the language skills of the monk and the driver, but they only spoke Georgian language. I wanted to ask them where they were taking me but got no answer. I wanted to explain to them that any simple city hotel would suit me. We drove very fast through the capital-city Tbilisi and with a couple of minutes we left the city again. Not any city hotel, but where will they bring me? We left the city behind us. From out of the dark the hills and the mountains around Tbilisi appeared. We drove the hills upwards and slowly climbing up direction the top of the hill. After an hour driving over deep holes, finally we came to a strange looking building. This was the Shavnabada men Monastery. Situated in a beautiful – and comforting surroundings, with lovely views on meadows with sheep and shepherds and their dogs, but also the view on Tbilisi from a far away distance, the capital of their motherland Georgia.


I was warmly welcomed by Mama (= father) Shio (now still my friend) and he introduced me to other 40 monks of his monastery. An extensive warm meal, various wines, coffee, tea and soft drinks and much more was offered me. After many glasses of wine and my long trip I was tired and wanted to sleep. I was brought into the fancy apartment of Patriarch Ilya to live during my stay in the Shavnabada Monastery.
In the antique -, creaky wooden bed, I fell finally asleep. After the morning prayers I was woken up by the kitchen monk with an extensive breakfast in my apartment. Eggs, bread, yoghurt, cheese, tea, fruit from own their garden, fresh milk of their own cows, honey from own hive,


I have been a guest in the Shavnabada Monastery for 10 days and they were 10 unforgettable days for me. I am not ecclesiastic, but it is wonderful to be there. Each time when I visit Georgia (I was there more than 6 times) Mama Shio, as a joke, he asked me to join them and become a monk in his Monastery. That would be OK for him. I have told him that I was married; however he also had a solution for my wife. My wife has to go and live in a women monastery as a Nun and I could stay in his monastery. I did thank him for his invitation and told him that I had to think about his offer.
We regularly drunk Georgian Monastery wine and Georgian Monastery whisky (cha-cha) and had heavy conversations, under leadership of my friend, about the church, Georgia live and much more.

Every Sunday, is religious service at Shavnabada Monastery. A lot of religious people come in their private cars, by busses, on foot, notwithstanding the fact that the religious service lasts more than 3 hours.
Mama Shio precedes the service. For many, he is the person that establishes contact with God, helps them, works hard and forgives their sins. The women are standing at the left side in the church and the men at the right side. There are no banks in the church. For the old or for people who really cannot stand for a long time, there are only slap chairs in the church. During the services it is no shame to go outside and smoke together with other religious people or monks a cigarette and to chat over the things of the life and after that return to the services. The religious services and the beautiful songs continue meanwhile normally. In the vestibule of the church blessed church mementos are sold.

A monk had not listened to Mama Shio his orders and was severely punished for that. The Pupil monk had taken a bottle of wine from the large wine vaults of the monastery without permission, for a visitor and himself to experience how delightfully these wines taste. When Mama Shio heard about that, he did not like this self initiative and decided to punish the Pupil Monk.
I know how simple the bedrooms of the monks are, not really luxury and even no heating at all. Streaming water is missing and is a joint whole the WC in the ground. Mama Shio’s punishment was as follows: The sinning monk had to leave immediately his room and had to sleep by the cows in the meadow during 10 days. That was a good lesson for the pupil and he learned much from that punishment and that was good for him.
The Shavnabada monastery is also a true spot for sick men, men that know that they can no longer do the things they have to do by themselves. In Shavnabada there is always a place for them.
The monastery is the place for religion but also a place for employment, security and assistance. Mama Shio is adored by these men because he is a very wise person.

Not a long ago, the father of Mama Shio passed away. He also lived a certain time in the monastery. Mama Shio’s father is buried under a tree, in the ground of the monastery.

The tourism is very interesting in Georgia so, when YOU are planning to visit Georgia also meet Mama Shio and his Monastery.



A visit to the Shavnabada Monastery is absolutely preferable when you are in Georgia. You will have a chance to see and get acquainted with an impressive person, Mama Shio. Please send him my best regards. I know that this is one of my most beautiful spots on the earth.
For more information mail tikojishkariani@gmail.com she knows everything about her motherland Georgia and is perfect as a tourist guide.

Fred Vorstenbosch 08.07. 2012