Batumi to Tbilisi

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September 8th 2019
Published: September 9th 2019
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We left the mountains for a long drive to Batumi. Situated on the Black Sea coast, Batumi is 20km from the Turkish border and is Georgia’s 2nd largest city. We arrived in the late afternoon, and one of the first things I noticed was the number of casino's in town. Later, someone told me Batumi is the ‘Las Vegas' of Georgia. We went for a hunt for some real coffee as soon as we got there, and had a mediocre cappuccino (but we did find a cute kitty cat). We had dinner with half our group at a fantastic restaurant on the water – the sunset was nice shade of pink and, randomly, fireworks started in the evening. It was a nice introduction to Batumi. The next day, our Intrepid guide Tamta did a city tour – we visited the Catholic Cathedral, which was built as a Catholic cathedral during the time when the Ottomans tried to convert the Georgians to Islam, and the pope intervened and said the Orthodox population could convert to Catholicism instead, so on order of the Roman Catholic church it was built in the early 1900's. Today, the cathedral is an Orthodox church. We then walk around to Europa Square, which is filled with amazing buildings and fountains, as well as an interesting design of the former Technical University which has gold carriages on the side of the building. We finished at the seafront to see the sculpture instillation of Ali and Nino. Based on characters in a novel by a Georgian author, Ali is Azerbaijani and Nino is a Georgian princess and they fall in love. The sculptures are made of steel and move on metal plates and they eventually meet and become one. Afterward the group drove to the beach closer to the border, however Bill and I opted to stay around town and explore a bit more. After a really good coffee, we walked around town and went to the Adjara (that is the region Batumi is in) museum which showcased taxidermy animals such as bird, fish and land animals, relics fro the Ottoman empire, Georgian clothes and swords, paintings and randomly, a whale skeleton. We then walked to the mall of Batumi – not a great mall but it had a really good supermarket. On the way we found a great Georgian craft brewery and had a few beers and sausages ( with spicy wasabi-like mustard!) We had dinner with the group that night with great food and awful homemade wine! So a couple of us went for a walk through the park and along the boulevard and found a takeaway wine stand along the beach that just made it all better! It was a nice evening.

The next day was our last day, and last travel day which was another long one, back to Tbilisi. We had lunch in a restaurant in a forest along the way, and the stopped in a Iago winery in Mtskheta which was fabulous. They still make their wine in the traditional way using the Qvari clay pots and burying it underground. We had a sit down tasting of the red, white and chacha (which made me feel sick). Our American friend George, the classy older gentleman that he is, had quite a few which made him even more cheeky much to his wife's chagrin! We arrived in Tbilisi in the late afternoon and said goodbye to Tamta who was starting a 17 day trip with a Dutch company the next day. We really wanted to go to a dinner and dance show, unfortunately the restaurant we wanted to go to so we went to Saamo restaurant around the corner (we went there a week earlier) for and delicious meal and the same trio of men serenaded us with Georgian folk songs. It was a lovely last dinner with our Intrepid crew (part 2). It was a good trip, I must say we enjoyed Georgia more than Azerbaijan, for the scenery and food but we are glad we did both. If you haven't been, add these countries to your list! We said our goodbyes at the hotel, and that was that – Intrepid trip over! Intrepid also, as we found out on this trip, stopped their rewards program of 10th trip free (up to $2200 AUD value). This is my 9th trip, so I sent a polite, but firm email to them and on the last day of the trip, while at the winery, I got my voucher. What a good end to the trip! Bill is on his 8th trip, and, without him sending an email, they mysteriously sent him a $500AUD voucher for completing over 7 trips! The next day (yesterday) we had a lazy day (no early start yaye!) Slept in, changed hotels, and walked around town doing last minute shopping, coffee and wine. We went for a ride on the cable car to the Narikala fortress at sunset, which was such a pretty time to go up and see the colours of sun setting in the sky and the city slowly turning from light to dark and 6 lights twinkling below. We had dinner in the nightclub street, and had a wine at a Georgian rare wine bar. It was the perfect evening. We left in the wee hours of this morning and are now on our way to Barcelona, Spain. Mudloba Georgia, didi mudloba, you were great, your country is beautiful. For now, new adventures await!

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