Batumi, the city of contrasts
The city of Batumi, located on the coast of the Black Sea in Georgia, is an exciting mix of the past and the future - here the old meets the new, the traditional meets the modern - in the neighborhood of narrow streets, cozy two-story brick buildings, the new, still under construction in many places rises to the sky skyscrapers, or even have lunch in a futuristic McDonald's reminiscent of a spaceship not far from the panel houses. Well, let's not run so far ahead!
Surprisingly, the trip there was completely smooth, our low-cost flight arrived at Kutaisi airport on time, and from there we went to Batumi by bus - the departure times of the buses are adjusted to the arriving flights, and the bus journey takes about 2.5-3 hours, and we can buy the ticket right at the airport exit.
Our accommodation was on the 43rd floor of a skyscraper, which we reached by taxi from the city bus stop. The apartment was beautiful and clean, with a great view, next to the beach and within walking distance of the old town. If you're wondering how much all this costs, read on, I've collected the costs for you at the end of the blog.
The seaside promenade is beautiful, lined with palm trees - a dream for morning jogging - but it's full of cocktail bars and restaurants, as well as a mini amusement park and sports fields on the waterfront, so you can't get bored here.
Many people think that Batumi is just a newly developed casino city or a "Dubai-wannabe", but there are many interesting and exciting sights and natural beauties here.
My favorite was the Batumi Botanical Garden, which was amazingly beautiful despite the pouring rain, and it didn't bother me that much that we got soaked to the skin during the several-hour walk - but maybe the two chachas we drank at the entrance - the local alcoholic drink - contributed to this.
You should know about the local weather that sometimes it rains non-stop for days - well, we managed to catch two such days!
The idea of this huge and fabulously beautiful botanical garden was already formulated in the 1880s, when the owners of the holiday resorts of the Georgian port city created a rich collection of plants above Batumi, giving in to the fashion of the time and their own whims.
The botanical garden was opened in 1912 on the coast of the Black Sea, in which we can now see century-old parks, with unique subtropical plants, and parts showing the vegetation of nine geographical landscapes - my favorite was the bamboo forest.
I used to find botanical gardens very boring, but the more I visit them, the more I start to like them.
During our walk in the garden, a very cute dog approached us and followed us the whole way, you can see him in the photo.
About Georgia, it is important to mention that there are a lot of stray dogs, but they are all very friendly, for example, practically every restaurant in the city has a dog that they feed there, it is very nice that they are never disturbed, they treat them kindly, and even in the rain they are allowed in , so they don't get wet. We could really take an example from them.
Needless to say, I managed to pet all the stray dogs - or at least I tried to :)
Batumi's beach has a special atmosphere, I personally loved the way skyscrapers rise directly behind the pebble beach and the palm tree promenade, and we can drink a good cocktail in our footsteps - and that I can finally take a dip in the Black Sea for the first time in my life.
Be sure to bring water shoes - or as we call them, "coral shoes" - because the beach is so pebbly that it's impossible to go in without them - but if you left them at home, don't panic, you can buy them from the beach vendors, of which there are plenty, for around 5 euros.
Don't miss the sunset on the beach, the sky has fabulous colors if the weather is not cloudy!
My other favorite sight was the Alphabetic Tower, which is 130 meters high. The tower symbolizes the uniqueness of the Georgian alphabet and people. The structure resembles a DNA, and on its side you can read the 33 letters of the Georgian alphabet - if you can read them... All the letters are 4 meters high and made of aluminum, and there is a huge silver sphere on top. It also functions as a lookout point.
I didn't go up here, because since we lived on the 43rd anyway, I didn't see the point , I just got on the Ferris wheel next to it - which was great, but not recommended for people with fear of heights, because it's open and goes up 55 meters high.
In addition, while walking by the observation deck, I saw two peacocks sitting on a bench, I went there to take a closer look, and of course their owner appeared and placed one of them into my hand - that's how I got my peacock photo - what can I say, I didn't expect that!
Street art defines the atmosphere of Batumi, you can find special works of art every step of the way. I have already selected my favorites well in advance and downloaded a map showing which ones are located where, but if you visit the old part of town anyway and walk carefully, you will almost certainly stumble upon them all. At least that's how I did it.
It's worth walking in the old part of town anyway, because you stumble upon beautiful, cozy buildings every step of the way. The largest square in Batumi, Europe square, is architecturally the most special because it is difficult to tell the difference between the old and newer buildings, because the new ones were built in the style of the old buildings.
There are great restaurants and bars in Batumi, and although some of them became favorites, we always went to different places to get to know as many places as possible. The range is wide, we went to all kinds of places, from the local small pub to the elegant restaurant to the food stalls - and if I have to draw one conclusion overall, it is that they are not in a hurry with the service.
Bread and pasta are the most typical foods of Georgian cuisine - Khachapuri is the most famous - but we can find many other delicacies.
Eggplant with walnut cream, or an egg dish mixed with eggs and cheese and butter, baked in a clay pot - I was immediatelyin love with it, but the walnut salad and the beef in walnut sauce were also tasty - they like to put walnuts in everything, as it seems.
I rarely recommend places by name, but BU&KHARI is one of the most unique wine bars I've ever been to. In an upstairs apartment in the old town, we can also taste local Georgian wines - let's say English is not their thing, but we managed to discuss "white" or "red" - I should add that "white" was better.
Anyway, very few people speak English in Batumi, but the people are kind and helpful. A funny story: it was raining very hard and we wanted to buy an umbrella, but of course they didn't sell it anywhere, so we asked the taxi driver to take us somewhere where we could buy an umbrella, but of course he didn't understand a word, but he didn't despair, he put the phone in my hand so I could have a video chat with his child, he understood what we wanted, and after the child translated what we wanted to his father, he jumped out of his car at a red light, brought his own umbrella, and then called his son back to tell him that he sells it to us. I don't dispute that he is resourceful, and he must have earned a few euros, but in any case, I was very happy about this, because we didn't have to repeatedly get soaked.
The local McDonald's is also worth a visit, specifically because it looks like a spaceship from the Alien movies! I've read in many places that this is the most beautiful McDonald's in the world, I'll leave it up to you to decide!
As I promised at the beginning of the article, I will share with you the costs of this trip to Georgia to help a little those who might be preparing for this wonderful country - or just curious.
Unfortunately, I bought the plane ticket quite late, because I originally wanted to go to Mykonos and I changed my mind at the last minute, so it was about 120 euros per person back there plus the suitcase, which I already thought was very expensive to Batumi.
I booked an apartment on Airbnb, with a sea view, balcony, on the 43rd floor, it was about 25 euros per night for 2 people in the building on the left, in Orbi City:
The airport bus (2.5 hours from the airport to Batumi) is 8,5 euros round trip per person - but I already wrote this at the beginning.
The country can be said to be relatively cheap, usually we could have lunch in a restaurant for around 3-5 euros per person, including drinks. Wines in bars are 2-3 euros/2dl, cocktails are a little more expensive, thez cost 4 euros.
I think the lounger on the beach is free because we were there all afternoon and no one came there.
Coffee - which I think is a very important item - costs about 0,5-1 euros, so you can easily drink three or four of it a day.
To take a taxi, you need to download an application, for 1-2 euros they will take you practically anywhere in the city.
The admission to the botanical garden was around 4 euros and I have to say that it was worth every penny.
I hope I made you want to visit this wonderful country! I will definitely come back here!
Batumi, the city of contrasts
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