As spring arrived once more I felt an urge to be on the green mountains of the Black Sea. I always feel spring is the best time to be in the nature while everthing is awakening and water is coming out of every hole it finds out. So as we were in the end end of May this was the right time. The begining of my trip would be from Batumi (simply Batum in Turkish) where I would stay for two days then cross back the border and reach the Macahel region of Artvin province which is located just across the Georgian border.
It was actually my second time in Batum. This region is where the origins of my grandmother and many millions of people in Turkey come from. Batum and territory around it is an autonomous republic of Georgia, actually the last one left for Georgia as Ossetia and Abkhazia already declared their independences and seems they will never be parted again with this country again. The reason why Adjara is an autonomous region is not because Adjarians are a different nation then Georgians, as the region fell under control of Ottoman Emprie in the 16th century the population
living there converted into Islam religion and lived loyally to the empire until the Batumi fell to the Russian control in 1877-1878 Turco-Russian war. Then majority of the population took refuge mainly in the Black Sea and Marmara region of Turkey. After my two visits to Batumi in my life I think they did the wise thing.
First thing that strikes you about the local people is they do not have a habbit of queing orderly. Don't expect people respect your place in the airports, border crossings or anywhere where people have to queue. I have experiences like even you are just two people the one who comes after you tries to jump in front of you in the queue. When you take into consideriation for the rich culture and long history of Georgia why her people can not behave such a simple act of civilization is a question mark.
The hotel I chose was Sputnik which is on the hill looking over Batum. Nice place just for 40 US $'s. I heard later on during the Soviet times high ranking bureaucrats were staying in this hotel whenever they visited the town. I assume it is because of
the small pool of the hotel which can be considered quite luxurious for a communist state. Around the place is lushes and you sleep while listening to the singing birds. I had a walk around the hotel which is outskirts of the city. I met an old man called Ali Osman who was putting his cows out to graze. During Soviet time his name was changed into "Alexander". The same suppression was done to the Turkish population of Bulgaria during the communist era. Moreover there, they forced the Muslim families to feed at least one pig. I did not ask Ali Osman if he ever had to feed a pig, but I am sure he went through some tragi-comic regulations in his long life time.
Batum itself is a laid back port city. The park in the coast can easily take two Turkish black sea towns inside. Once more I got upset for our talent of creating such ugly towns and cities in the middle of beautiful nature pieces. The town is planned in a clasical Russian way with grid shape streets, Russian style buildings and a square where a statue is erected. The mosque near to the port
seems like the only trace left from the Ottoman era. The streets around the mosque is full of Turkish restaurants and shops selling Turkish products. So I did not feel as I was in aborad while walking in these streets.
It semed to me Georgia put great effort to make the town Las Vegas of Caucases. You may see many casinos in the streets of this small town, unfortunately even in the poor suburbs of the town you may see shed-like, lousy shops having poker machines inside. I even saw a 8-10 years old kid putting a coin and trying to reach to the win button while rising in his heels. The plan for making easy money from the gambling seems to create big social problems in the future.
As expected from a town which tied her hopes to gambling income, prostitution is also very common. I saw a hotel called with the name of a Turkish town so I assumed it is run by some Turkish investors. As I got in to ask for prices I realised the place is actually a brothel establishment run by Georgian mamas. I was given some prices but I did not
get into details what were they for. Anyways, I continued my innocent cultural tour in the town.
I got hungry and in my first day I already had a dinner in one of the Turkish restauranst of the town. As I was in Georgia I should try something traditional from Georgian cuisine. I found one after my long investigations in Russian while there was an electric cut in the city at the same time. Even it looked like a small, under-rated resaturant the food was delicious. Later on I heard an anechtode; "God threw three candies from the sky to the earth. One fell to the tongue of Turks that is why they are so talkative and friendly people, second fell to the girls of Russian that is why they are so beautiful and attractive and third fell to table of the Georgians so that is why their food is so delicious."
After the dinner I headed to the port, bought some roses from a babushka, who prayed a lot for me and told about her troubles. I sat in a cafe and had an icecream with the black sea view in front. I thought about there was
still hope for humanity, beauty of flowers etc. My whole optimism ended as I reached to the hotel and realised my 100 dollars was missing and very probably it was stolen in the small restaurant where I had dinner. I thought about going to the police but I was not 100 percent sure I was robbed there, and also I had no proof and probably it will end up with only me getting more upset, more pissed of and so on. Anyways maybe having some of your money stolen was a part of a traditional Georgian dinner. My cultural experiences was over and I was ready to cross the border for the high lands of Artvin.
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