Ralph Hälbig manages a blog about Georgia and South Caucasus. Blog is available in German and shares politics, economics and art narrative in the region. Visitors are increasing day by day, while he’s planning to commit himself more and write a travel guide about Georgia. CBW had an interview with Ralph about his inspirations, experience and opinion towards region.
Tell us what you’re looking for in Georgia?
The first time I was in Georgia in the late 1990s. This was a particularly interesting experience for me. There were hardly any tourists. Every day I experienced electricity outages. Tbilisi was gray, dark and yet it had a magical appeal to me. I was impressed, despite the adversities of everyday life, how spirited people were. Again and again I experienced her humor. Grandiose is the hospitality and life philosophy of the Georgians. Georgia seemed to me a truly poetic landscape. Georgia is always a surprise – anything but a boring country.
What inspired you most?
This ancient cultural landscape of Georgia is particularly impressive for me. A small nation with an extraordinary language survived all the historical upheavals in their history. Through their archetypal self-assertiveness, they shape their surroundings. For me, Georgia is a polyphonic country in many cases.
How is the idea to create a blog born? What was your first post about?
I was so enthusiastic about Georgia that I kept coming back. Of course, I also read a lot about Georgia. I searched the Internet and the media for “Georgia”. A good friend, whom I met in Georgia, I then always sent all the research. Then he gave me the tip to start a blog to Georgia. In 2005 I wrote a small article about the Georgian State Dance Company Sukhishvili for an online magazine. This was then also my first contribution in my blog. In the following years established the blog for re-posts on the topic South Caucasus.
How did you reach people in the beginning as it has 3,027,918 views nowadays?
At first, the popularity of the blog grew slowly and gradually. You need time and a long breath. Interesting was then for me Facebook. In Facebook, I tried to address the Diaspora of the Georgians. That is why I have many FB friends and followers from Georgia. Through Facebook and Twitter, I became more and more interested in the whole world. And of course I have quite a few friends in and from Georgia.
Who are the visitors of blog? Are you from Germany or any other person?
Most visitors come from Europe and North America and also from Georgia. Of course also many readers are from Germany. The re-posts to Georgia and South Caucasus are bilingual – German and English. Meanwhile, I also reach many experts and other journalists through my Twitter account https://twitter.com/SouthCaucasus. On Twitter I have daily up to 5,000 visitors and on my blog 1500 to 2000 daily.
Where do you get the source of information from?
The information I refer on the one hand from my searches. Then I know of course the relevant media. Twitter and Facebook are very good intermediaries. And finally, many Georgians and Germans send me informations and links. Over the years I have always received very good feedback. For years almost daily I have been doing a lot for this blog. This blog is a lot of work.
We’ve heard about your plan to write a travel guide about Georgia,do you cooperate with someone?
Because of my commitment, I now have a certain reputation. The established travel publisher (travel know-how) from Germany has offered me to take over the travel guide Georgia in the future as an author. I think my friends and networks in Georgia will help me to bring a high-quality travel guide to the book market. I would be grateful and grateful for cooperation in Georgia. Maybe I find support in Georgia. Who knows what is the result? I would, of course, love to get more involved in Georgia. After all, I am now also family-bound to Georgia.
What is your opinion about how Georgia is developing, what changes do you see?
Georgia has changed a lot. Globalization and West orientation have left their footsteps. A lot has happened since the nineties. The orientation towards Europe is visible. There is a free Visa. It is being built a lot and more and more tourists are pouring into the country.
I very much hope that Georgia will deal responsibly with its rapid changes and will continue to do so in the long term so that the beauty of its country and its people is not sacrificed to the quick money. Then I also wish that above all the poor in the Georgian society can participate in the development.