Published: May 9th 2007May 9th 2007
before I enter Georgia
ready to go and use the Visa free entry to the Ex-Sowiet Union state Georgia
I made it to Tbilisi
, the capital of the Republic of Georgia.
After leaving Hopa
I entered Georgia, not knowing what awaits me...and I was surprised. First by their alphabet which reminds me to Thai language...then by the plants and the forest around Batumi
, a city, directly located at the Black Sea coast where you can find the only subtropical climate in the region. Also the hospitality of the Georgians made me wonder, I was hitchhiking to the border with a Turkish truck who told me that he can take me further to Tbilisi when he'll be finished at the customs...but that seemed too fast for me, entering the country and going 400km right away into the capital, and by night, as it was already evening. So I sat down and thought about what to do...when I was approached by two nice guys who offered me to take me to Batumi. I agreed right away and after communicating with them in Turkish (the only common language, I was quite proud that I am already able to communicate by it with foreigners :-) , they told me I can stay the night at his brothers house. That's where we went and
Black Sea beach
there's no sand around, mostly big rocks, if you're lucky you get smaller nes like here in Batumi
where I had a great evening.i We ate marvellous Georgian food with the whole family and the language problem was solved when Ekaterine came to us, the sister who lives in America and was home for visiting her family. I learned a lot about their eating and drinking culture, so is it the duty of the oldest man at the table to make toasts before everybody drinks (in our case delicious home made wine), a really nice tradition. THen I had fun with the kids learning to count in Georgian, trying to get hold of the alphabet, whıich I postponed to the next stay (which will certainly be a longer one in this wonderful country) and last but not least practising their English :-).
The next day I explored the city with Mari, her brother and their friend, neighbours of my hosts who spoke English very well. We went to the museum and were so lucky to run into an international folk festival of children from Georgia, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan in the main theatre of Batumi. hat a show...they were really professional and it was an interesting insight into the culture life in this area of the world.
my host in Batumi
in front of one of the numerous imported old German vans (I saw one with 'Ruderclub Aschaffenburg' as a Marshroutni [Sammeltaxi])
also had some more traditional food and they were really great guides who explained everything and tried to answer all my questions about the coty and Georgia.
In the evening I decided to hitchhike further into the country, not knowing where I will end...but it was just a decision...not so easy to execute as I found out later.
No hitchhikers paradise anymore...nearly nobody stopped, neither the Turkish truck drivers (who might be afraid as it's not Turkey anymore) nor the local cars..so after 3 hours and 15km I went to the train station to check the timetable for night trains (I remembered my great experiences in Russia..and as it was Sowiet Union as well) and was lucky! Two hours later a train left for Tbilisi and it was only 15 Lari which is about 7€ for a bed and transport...so I abandoned my beloved hitchhiking for this time and searched a way to pass the remaining hours. I found the Sowiet style cantine next to the brand new train station (very futuristic) where I had a nice chat with the waitresses on my remaining Russian and ate some bread and meat accomponied by a fresh beer...nice :-)
Hten I still
colourful socialist heritage
I'm not sure which kind of architecture I prefer...Turkish or Georgian ;-)
ha some time and met a group of sailors who invited me to the home of one of them who spoke decent English. He lived with his mother who gets a small pension (15€ a month) and has a real hard life to get by....not unusual in Georgia (also the unemployment rate is very high) and we talked about the good old times during Sowiet Union when everybody had enough (they praised Stalin, who was Georgian and also lived some time in Batumi) and came to the conclusion that the future can just be worse....I felt really sorry for her destiny to think so pessimisticly.
With these thoughts in my mind I entered the night train and felt asleep right away (I love nigt trains, I spent already 50 nights in them, in many countries) and woke up in Tbilisi
First I explored the market next to train station, wher nothing changed in the last 50 years. It's still a big hall full of people selling half pigs, mountains of flour and spices and old women offering flowers and nuts....such an explosion in terms of smells and eyecatchers (unfortunately I didn't take any pictures there...sorry, you have to see for
the mighty Kaukasus
it's some hundreds kilometres away and still amazing..I was really astonnished (reminded me to the day I saw Mont Blanc from Lyon)
Then I went to the 'centre' and had a look on the declining old town which still has the flair of its glorious past, but how long will it stay? It has to be renovated!!! After having seen enough I organized a host for the night and again I was so lucky to meet Zura, a hospitalityclub and couchsurfing member who speaks fluently German.
We had a great time together. He showed me the city, made me taste the great Georgian beers and let me stay in his family's appartment. The next day we went to a very important meeting with...the thieves of his mobile phone :-)
It was stolen a week ago and he located the guy who used it with the phone-ID (well, or sth. like that) so he had the adress and the new number of the guy and called him to come to the meeting...he was really scared to be arrested.
So he came with a friend and I was sitting quietly but resolute next to Zura, not revealing that I don't understand a word of their language ;-) After some discussions about his fears (he told Zura he doesn't have the 1000 Lari it
some more nice houses
Batumi...a popular place in summer
would cost in case of an arrest, so it wouldn't make any sense to arrest him) and after Zura ensured him tht he didn't tell the police so far, he called his pregnant girlfriend (or a pregnant woman they knew) who came and brought the mobile phone....all three of them were shaking....
After that we had some beers to celebrate the comeback of the phone and next morning we headed to Mtskheta
the old capital of the Georgian kingdom. We also had some more Georgian specialties in a great traditional restaurant and visited the Jvari Monastery
, on a mountain overlooking the valley where Mtskheta is located.
What beautiful remains of ancient history! I have to come back to this intersting country and bring some more time with me, that's decided!
In the evening I took the train back to Batumi and the border in order to go back to Turkey and finally Iran, as my Visa has to be used :-)
Now I am sitting 10km from the Iranian border and writing this, but the updates about my last days in turkey and my first days in Iran will come soon I hope :-)
Thanks for reading and
commentating, I like to hear that people are interested in what I do and experience!
There are more photos below