Georgia is one of the most admirable places in the Caucasus and one of our most favourite places at all. It’s a country with a turbulent history, phenomenal beauty of nature and amazing people. It’s been like a magnet for us since the first time we got there. So we took our 5-month-old daughter in her first serious trip naturally there.
Our first steps we directed towards western part of the country, to the Black Sea coast. The most famous Georgian summer resort by the sea is Batumi. It’s the capital city of Adjara region and is located right between sea and the mountains. While swimming in the sea one can admire snow-capped mountain peaks.
The population of Batumi is around 160 000 but in the summertime it attracts masses of people. Georgians and foreign visitors crowdly occupy the rocky beaches. For those visitors the biggest hotel chains like Sheraton or Radison Blu invested in the city giving its landscape a modern and rich glance.
Besides them Georgian authorities let in Batumi, as well as in other parts of country, modern, bold architectural ideas. That bulids quite a contrast between that modern, rich resort center and rather poor city outskirts and other parts of the country. Wanting to know real life in Georgia it’s better to choose a more simple location. That gives the chance to meet really friendly people and feel that unique Georgian atmosphere.
One of the biggest attraction of Batumi, of course right after the sea, is a botanical garden. It’s one of the biggest gardens in this part of the world (111 hectare). Interested in seeing plants from all over the world have to prepare for couple hours of walking up and down the hills or riding a melex. Garden is really big and offers really intersting objects, which form of course depends on the season.
This time for our leisure at the Black Sea we chose another summer location – Ureki. I think we expected something a little different. The little village is full of booths with food, swimming accesories, clothes and God only knows what else. There are some bars but we haven’t tried them. Streets in a mess, loudy restaurants and all day bustle are not the picture of real Georgia for us.
At the beach at our surprise we found black sand. The entire beach was black and looked just dirty. But it’s all natural and supposedly magic. This sand has been brougth from the mountains by the river Inguri. Low magnetic field and increased amount of ferromagnetic minerals of the sand give it curative virtues. Those features are highly recommended for, hmm… every disease in every age. We didn’t try to do anything else than just to seat on it on the blanket. And it was as hot as expected.
Anyway, that was the place where Ola for the first time in her life swam in the sea, at the age 5 months. She accepted is stoically as if it was her usual swimming pool. Like it was nothing new. She only gained excitement of other sunbathers. You have to know that Georgians are very friendly towards children.
Ola was probably one of the the smallest people swimming. At that time she was smaller than her stroller wheels.
Worth mentioning is local comunication or rather means of transportations. High temperatures make people change from buses (no AC) normally used as marshrutkas to open vehicles providing a gust of wind.
Adjara occupies an important position in Georgian culinary world by its own type of khachapuri. This is a national georgian type of cheese-filled bread and many regions developed their own ways of cooking it. Adjarian happens to became our favourite one. It’s an eye-shaped dough baked with cheese and egg on top. This is how it’s served at its origin.
Good side dish for that is a tomato, cucumber salad. Popular accross whole country and always a good choice for some vegetables for dinner. Ripe, juicy tomatoes, cucumber with fresh parsley and coriander don’t taste like that anywhere else.
This region of Georgia offers more intersting places – out of our own experience we can also advise going to the mountains by the road by Acharistskali River. Mountain views, of course on condition of good weather, are amazing.
A must see in this area are medieval stone bridges. Made of volcanic stone and lime bridges are of similar construction and proportions. The most famous, for the thin arch and its perfection (out of over a dosen similar) is an almost thousand-year-old Queen Tamar bridge in Dandalo.
We suppose that northeast cost of Black Sea offers many interesting sites but this time the furthest we went was Zugdidi. Right outside the city there is a barrier, a boarder with Abkhazia. To cross it one needs a visa to Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia.
Next time we are there we will pay them a visit to better understand this Georgian – Abkhazian conflict. For now Abkhazia stays for us just an autonomous republic recognised by Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru, South Ossetia, Transnistria and Nagorno-Karabakh with a history full of war.