Saturday July 4 – This morning Zurab and his wife drove me to the bus station on their way to their summer home. Such a relief, as it was difficult trying to plan how to get here easily (and cheaply). They dropped me off at 8:30am and I went in to the office with my online booking number to ask them to print a ticket for me. No English spoken, and eventually she said I didn’t need a ticket. Seemed unlikely, but ok. I walked over to the bus area, and someone showed me the other office. They spoke less English, but someone who did helped me explain I needed to print a ticket. They said I didn’t need one. I gave my bag to the guy putting them under the bus, and he didn’t ask for a ticket. I got on the bus and the bus left at 9am, on time. A man came through with a list, said something to me in Georgian. I said “Sorry?” and he smiled and walked away. I guess he really didn’t need a ticket as long as there was a woman in the right seat. This bus line does not let men sit
next to women – at least, if you book individually. Great for me, as I would only have to sit next to a woman for six hours. Better news for me – no one sat next to me! And no one sat in the two seats on the opposite side from me either. Strange, because I tried to buy seat 40, which was a left-side window. When I went to pay online, it said someone had just bought the ticket. It showed two men sitting in those two seats. So I bought the window next to it on the right. But those guys never showed. Awesome. Anyway, we started our drive to Batumi and I was able to use wifi on the bus. Excellent. There were many movies and games, but the movies were all dubbed in Georgian, so those were out. I did watch some music videos and play Angry birds, but I have no patience for that for long. On a smaller road, the bus had to stop and beep at some pigs to get out of the road, and later I saw some pig babies. Made me think about not eating meat anymore. Some decisions to be
made. But there was a lot of rural life to be seen as the scenes went past, so that was nice.
We got to Batumi about 30 minutes late, after one lunch stop and a stop for a little girl to puke by the side of the road. I got a minibus to the guesthouse and checked in to my room – a room full of four single beds and nothing else. But luckily, it was just for me. It’s a bit of a dump, and the shared bathroom is always wet since the shower is right next to the toilet. There is wifi though, and a little seating area on each floor outside. I’m on the 4th
floor. Across from me are two guys from Switzerland and Austria – the first European travelers I’ve met so far. They are actually walking together from Switzerland to Vietnam (!) to raise money for a charity in Vietnam. They have been walking for five months, and just arrived here from Turkey recently. Amazing.
After a chat with Christoph, the Austrian, I decided to go for a walk to the boardwalk/boulevard which is along the water. I thought this was a
small town, but it’s much bigger than expected and it took far longer than I thought to get to the main touristy area. In fact, the part of town where I am staying is depressing, and the walk there started out that way too. It may be because it was cloudy and gray, but there seemed to be nothing, and this is a major beach town. But all of a sudden there were people and things and it was different. There’s a touristy beach part, a ferris wheel, a touristy part of town, and so on. I ended up walking for three hours. I didn't stop for a meal, because I still had leftovers from last night that Zurab’s wife sent me home with. I ate some for lunch on the bus and some for dinner in Batumi. Walk to boardwalk. Eventually I came back to the guesthouse and called it a night.
Sunday July 5 – Tried to sleep in, but I’m not good at relaxing. Hence, this trip, right? Internetted a bit, and then talked to the guys again, this time officially meeting the Swiss guy. Quite nice, and lives quite close to where I live in
Switzerland. I ate my apple for breakfast and then went for a walk in town again. I took a slightly different route and saw some new things, like peacocks displaying, which was lovely. There is a dolphinarium near my guesthouse, but I decided not to go. Not sure how I feel about that. It’s like Sea World, but much smaller and just dolphins, it seems. At noon I got some lunch. It was another cheese pie, but the ones that are special to this area. The bread has a special shape and it is filled with cheese with a lightly fried egg on top and a hunk of butter that melts on the hot bread as you eat. Delicious. But I may never need to eat again. I was so full after that. Bursting, really.
From there I grabbed a minibus to the botanic gardens, about 9 km out of the city. Amazing. Really large and beautiful. Really well done. It was a shame it was gray all day again, but in the gardens it was also misting, then raining. Not as nice of an experience as it could have been, but still a beautiful place. Really glad I
went. Came back and settled in for the evening, talking to the guys and blogging. A lot of people checked in on our floor – I am the only one alone. I was worried the two bathrooms would be impossible to get into, but it was ok.
Monday July 6 – I’ve been a way for one week now. It feels like a lifetime. In some ways I feel like I’ve always been here, living out of my backpack. It’s been good to see so many new things and have different experiences, but it is also difficult and lonely in many ways. I spend so much time planning all aspects of my trip before I go – where I will go, how long it takes to get from place to place, how long I need in each place, where I will sleep – to ensure that it will work out in the time I have. But then I end up missing home and familiarity and looking forward to going back. Bizarre. Especially because I only have one week before I go back to work after I get home. Not enough time to recover from the school year and a
long trip. I sometimes wish I was more flexible in my plans, but then I think I would also be a little more stressed in other ways. Not every traveler’s life is carefree. J
I used earplugs last night and slept much better. I went to bed without dinner, still full from lunch. This morning I tried to bring my shoe to a shoe repair guy to fix, but he was not in yet. Since I leave today, I may just wait until tomorrow when I get to my new destination, as I will be there for several days. It is misting again today. It’s been gray since I got here and will continue to be until I leave. Not much of a beach location in the end, but I did see people in the water. It is humid but feels too cool to me to swim. In another week I’ll be in Cyprus, and I can swim there.
This afternoon I get on a train to Armenia. It is a 17 hour trip on a sleeper train. It will stop in Tbilisi around 10:30pm and get to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, at 7:25am. I am a
little excited and a little nervous. The last time I slept on a train was in 2006. Maybe I should go back and read my own blog to see how that went. J I have to buy some food for the journey. Or maybe just eat one of those cheese pies again – that should do it. I'll let you know how it goes.
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