I'm thinking of going in early spring (very late March). I understand language might be a problem in Georgia - has anyone experienced a problem? Any aggressive scams in those areas (I've heard about the bar scam in Istanbul)? How are the prices - I know it's not as cheap as many years ago?
Georgia is maybe the most welcoming country is the world I'm not joking!
People there are really warm and open-hearted.
While you're not Russian you shouldn't bother at all.
I have been in both. Istanbul in 2004 and 2005, Tbilisi in 2004.
The latter is cheaper on the whole than Istanbul, but if you are going for one city I would definately say Istanbul. Tbilisi is fine for 1 day or maybe 2 if you fancy, but Georgia is best travelled outside of the cities and into the mountains, wine regions, Black Sea coast etc etc. Late March is not the best time for the mountains though, unless you like snow...
I found Georgia and Istanbul both perfectly safe as well, just use the normal precautions like you would do in any other city/country.
My brother lives in Tbilisi he can answer questions for you. Mail me and I can put you in contact with him.
The bar scam in Istanbul you speak of, exists also in Athens too. I 'Nearly' got caught out, it was only an article on TV I saw a couple of weeks before I went, that saved my bacon from being totally rashered ! !
Georgia is an amazingly beautiful country, although Tbilisi doesn't have the pull for me - that Istanbul has. Although the old part of Tilblisi is very pretty and reminds me a lot of the culture in parts of Northern Romania and Moldova. It's quite a small city too, with a population of just over 1million (about the same size as Sofia), whereas Istanbul is just huge - with some 12million people.
Two totally different languages (and the Georgian alphabet is quite challenging - totally different to familiar Cyrillic).
As far as Georgia being maybe the most welcoming country in the world, I wouldn't go as far as to agree with that. However, I have never had any problems with either of the two countries - as far as safety is concerned.
If you've time, try and get to Maetekhi (Metekhi). It's a lovely setting and the church, or maybe it's a cathedral, I don't know - is perched right on the side of a cliff going down to the river. I had the most incredible lunch there of some kind of stew with fresh bread and a beer that was near to freezing point.
Istanbul? I lost myself there for a week and still didn't touch the sides. Incredible city.
Enjoy ! !
Now I'm also thinking of adding Odessa to my stops in Istanbul and Tbilisi - anyone been to Ukraine?
I have been to Ukraine many times - and still visit there. Now here is a very friendly place. Full of corruption and people trying to make a few bob out of your visit, however they can - but all the same, incredibly welcoming and dirt cheap.
I've visited many regions of this, Europe's largest country. Odessa I really liked - as I did the Chernobyl region too. The overnight train from Ivano Frankivsk to Kiev (in mid-winter, it was around -25c outside) was an experience that I could write many pages about.
Kiev in winter?.... Ugh. In the summer?.... Wonderful. Never known a city to have so many museums. there are hundreds of them.
In Odessa there was a woman warning of bits of the sea not to swim in, due to the presence of diptheria and typhoid ! ! We avoided it, swam somewhere else - and didn't get ill.
The Ternopil Region is very traditional with Cossacks on horses. It is very cultural and full of people wanting to speak English with us.
Never forget, when over in Western Ukraine, - you're next door to Poland. Not to be missed if you can get there. Another wtruly wonderful country.