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Published: June 12th 2016
BatumiDay 139 Sunday 5th June 2016 – Akhaltsikhe to Batumi
Fun on the Black Sea
Moving day and once again Anna at the hotel served us up a huge breakfast complete with a strong Turkish coffee. Today we had the last joyous experience of chucking our bags in to the boot of a car in Georgia. Before heading off to Batumi we thought we would check out the Rabati, which is the old fort area of Akhaltsikhe. Drove up to the top of the hill and parked our car and went to enter the fort when we were told that it was the exit and we had to walk down hill to the entrance. 10 minutes later at the entrance we discovered that we had to pay 7 lari to enter, which I guess wasn’t too bad but we only wanted to have a quick look and scamper as we had a big journey ahead and the place was already overrun with hundreds of children so we opted to give it a miss and hit the road.
Between Akhaltsikhe and Batumi is a huge mountain range and we had two options, one was the long way around on
main roads that would take 6 hours or “a quick route” across the mountains. The Lonely Planet claimed that a major upgrade should be completed “by 2012” – that was 4 years ago so it should be great. Leaving Akhaltsikhe the road was absolute crap but there was trucks working on it so we figured this was the last delayed stretch. The road soon went to asphalt and we had a good hour of beautiful clean driving till we hit the mountains and it all went pear shaped. The road was as rough as a billy goat track but we kept thinking the “new road” must be just around the corner but it just never appeared. We then got trapped in the whole “well it will take us so long to go back we might as well push on” syndrome. After what happened to our poor Kia the other day we treated our new stead with kid gloves and eased her over every bump which just took forever as the whole road was one long bump. The road just got worse and worse but with every bump we crossed just made it harder to turn back. Finally got to a
bend where we had to cross a stream and a van went ahead of us that made it look easy but it sat higher off the ground than our low slung Opal. Stopped assessed the crossing and then decided to go for it expecting to get jammed but the old girl crossed it no problems. Had to cross another stream before we hit the Goderdzi Pass at 2025m complete with snow. On top of the pass was a very rustic settlement with great views down the adjoining valleys. From this pass the road slowly improved but I mean slowly, and it wasn’t till about 2pm before I could finally get the car into third gear occasionally. It was around this time that we passed a large dam project and some signs of road works and a tunnel but seriously this road is an absolute joke and is about a 100 years off from being rebuilt and should be closed.
We had booked an apartment at Batumi and had made arrangements to pick up the keys at 4pm so this was part of the problem with persevering with the crap road. In the end we arrived at 4.15
From the 4th Century BC
and Michele had the fun of dealing with the women on reception at the apartment blocks who didn’t want to help us, but in the end they made a phone call to the owner for us who appeared and took us to our new home for a couple of nights. The owner Giorgi is such a nice guy and even offered to spend the day with us tomorrow and take us sightseeing as he was happy to have the first Aussie couple staying in his apartment. We declined his offer opted instead to have an easy non sightseeing day tomorrow. Dropped off our bags and walked downtown to our favourite restaurant where Michele’s got to cuddle her friendly kitten again. Day 140 Monday 6th June 2016 – Batumi
In the middle of the night a huge storm roared through and it was still drizzling in the morning so we slept in till 8.30 this morning. Having a really easy day today with nothing really planned other than some beach walking. Was going to spend a few days in this town as a short pause but couldn’t get accommodation past today
Walls of the Rabati
because the band Maroon 5 is playing in town and they have created an accommodation shortage. Don’t actually know much about this band and just thought they were a bunch of hasbeens but apparently they are huge.
The weather turned out to be beautiful today so first thing we got tickets to go back to Tbilisi and then to the beach where we tried not to end up like the red lobsters, oh I mean other tourists. Later in the afternoon we went to the bar at the end of the pier for a beer, it has the best location over the water but when we went to order a second one it got very confusing as we got the impression they thought we had just arrived and gave us the menu and then told us they only had one Georgian beer left. “No problem can we have the bill” to which we got blank faces and “you have not ordered anything”, now should we be offended that we are that non-descript.
Dinner was back at the same restaurant which is a few blocks back from the beach but it does good and cheap
Scott at MT Mtatsminda
Georgian food. Day 141 Tuesday 7th June 2016 – Batumi to Tbilisi
Woke up to pouring rain which for us didn’t matter as it is moving day and we will be spending about 7 hours in a bus. Pack our bags meet Giorgi to give back the keys to the apartment and he helped us with the bags and getting a taxi so we were soon at the bus terminal. We are getting a big bus with Metro Bus Company which have great new and clean buses but have all these rules like you can’t eat on the bus and you “must not undress your shoes”. On this journey a new one was added, the conductor wanted to put our camera bag in the stored luggage and after us refusing he got huffy and when we sat down he kept trying to tell us how to position the bag even though it was on the floor between us not inferring with anyone. Just a random thing as on the journey to Batumi it was not an issue. The bus had a half hour stop for food and a
Road to Batumi
A good section of the road
toilet break as the rain continued to come down. The last couple of hours it was pouring and the roads were starting to flood and we saw numerous minor accidents but this did not seem to deter our driver who still insisted on driving too fast for the conditions. We at one stage started to aquaplane and for a moment we thought we would tip as we just missed an oncoming bus, then we nearly hit a cow. Eventually however we hit the Tbilisi traffic and crawled through the streets to the terminal.
Before leaving the terminal we checked around for tickets to Yerevan but they all seem to be vans and no big buses, damn as it is about 6 hours. Grabbed a taxi who claimed to know where the hotel was and of course had no idea, we basically directed him to where we thought it was and thankfully we were right. This is the third hotel we have tried in this town and it looks to be the best so far with a lovely large room and a small balcony that unfortunately only overlooks the building across the road and the Armenian Church but
Road to Batumi
There is a road somewhere under that water
no bad drain smells.
Had dinner at the KGB Bar where the girls remembered us after being away for 2 weeks so maybe we are not that nondescript and those poor young bar staff in Batumi have some sort of short term memory loss. Day 142 Wednesday 8th June 2016 – Tbilisi
The blue skies were back out today and we headed to our other favourite café The Hangar Bar for breakfast which overlooks the clock tower. Once our bellies were full we walked to the Fine Arts Museum to see the treasury section, this contains a huge collection of religious items and the bejewelled cross belonging to Queen Tamar. For this section you need a guided tour which is very rushed so you are whisked around trying to absorb all the information. There is a new larger museum being built so this may improve the viewing when finished.
Walked onto the funicular and took it up to Mt Mtatsminda Park which is an amusement park overlooking the city but not much fun was happening here today as there were only a
Road to Batumi
More hole than road
few people wandering around. There is a huge ferris wheel that was operating but chickened out as it was very windy but had a nice walk around before getting the funicular back down. For dinner we went back to The Hanger bar and made a bit of a night of it as it is the last night we can due to potentially an early start on Friday morning. Day 143 Thursday 9th June 2016 – Tbilisi
Had a bit of a late night last night (well I think we did), so we had a nice sleep in before heading off once again for brunch at the hanger bar. Felt like we just about live at this place but we resolved to go somewhere different for dinner tonight. After our feed we wandered up to the Museum of Georgia. This is a great museum and the treasury section is filled with some incredible gold pieces as old as 3000BC. The detail on the gold jewellery from the 4th
Century BC was stunning and we both could not believe that it was so well preserved. Unlike the fine arts museum we didn’t
Funicular station at the half way point.
need a guide and could walk around freely and photograph. The top floor of the museum was dedicated to the Soviet occupation and it was a somber account of the atrocities committed over 70 years and included film footage from the 2008 invasion by Russian over the war with South Ossetia. It was everything that the Stalin museum wasn’t and was happy to see some justice done to these dark days in Georgian history.
The day had been overcast with dark clouds and of course just before we left the museum it started to rain. Both got a good dunking by the time we got back to our hotel and from then it got heavier complete with lightning and thunder so our plans for the last hours in Tbilisi were washed away. The rain eased around 6pm so we ducked out and got a feed at the KGB bar, and of course the rain returned. Would have loved to have sat there all night drinking and watching the pouring rain but we had an early start tomorrow and moving onto Armenia and didn’t want to do that with a hangover. Ran the 200 metres home in the
Ferris Wheel on MT Mtatsminda
rain and then did a bit of prep work for the move. We are both sad about leaving Tbilisi as this has been such a great place for us and in fact is probably our new favorite city. Tomorrow it will be Yerevan, let’s hope it can match the vibe of Tbilisi.
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