Batumi, here we go : western+eastern=amazing!
January 1, 1970
by Lucy U
What do you know about Georgia?
For me, before I came here it was a mysterious land famous for its wine, national songs and unbelievably difficult language. Not expecting anything special I crossed the Russian-Georgian border and… stayed here for half a year!
This amazing country turned out to be home for one of the most hospitable nations, thousands of magnificent landscapes, tastiest fruits and vegetables throughout whole year and much much more…
Now I want to tell a bit about third biggest city in Georgia – Batumi, that is not truly Georgian-style city but has its own magical atmosphere. Ready, steady, go!
Batumi is the capital of Georgian region Adjara and is tenderly embraced by the mountains on one side and by the Black Sea on the other side. Its history has started since really ancient times and local places have played a huge role in Greek mythology. They were called “the lands inhabited by the barbarians” or Colchis. [single_map_place] Batumi [/single_map_place]
Now this city is the main Georgian sea port and resort which is being overtaken by Russian, Caucasian and Turkish tourists every warm season (may-october). People here mostly speak Russian, Georgian and Turkish because Turkey is only 15km away and there are many locals who work there. It’s the major trade point for all Georgia, so people come here even from the capital Tiflis to buy clothes or furniture or whatever vendors bring from Turkey.
Batumi is a city of astonishing contrasts. Firstly, you take a walk on a famous Batumi Boulevard and you see such hotels as Radisson, Sheraton, Hilton (also the casinos), then after 300 meters you suddenly see small houses and women washing clothes in the yard or selling street food. I would strongly recommend to stroll around the city for at least a week because every little place can become a great surprise.
Take a look at the main square with a statue of Medeya (legendary woman that helped Jason, the Argonaut get the Golden Fleece), then walk to Piazza, totally European style square where you can listen to live music and order some wine. If you are a fan of poker, there will be a great variety of casinos to choose, in Georgia they are totally legal. This is also why there are so many Turkish tourists here, they all like to gamble 🙂 City center will greet you with a huge market where from May to February you can find loads of fresh’n’ripe fruits, berries and veggies that people grow in their gardens just several kms from the city.
Also, speaking about the Boulevard which is around 10 kilometers long, you might want to stop every 200 meters, because this is the right place for enjoying funky installations and modern art in general. You will see graffiti, sculptures, strangely-shaped benches and other amazing things and on top of that – tremendous sea view which is never the same! I used to come here and go to the pier to watch sunsets at least 4 times a week! And this is still not that much because if you live in the center you can basically walk to the sea in less than 5 minutes or it will take you maximum 50 minutes to walk to the outskirts of Batumi.
Seasons and weather
Oh, every year it’s so different here! We used to joke with my friends: “so, what do we have tomorrow? Summer, spring or maybe winter?” All in all, summer starts in May and it’s warm till mid-October. Temperatures may vary from +14 to +40, hottest time July-August. May rain for several days, so make sure to get an umbrella. Luckily, they are sold everywhere here, because winter is totally rainy thanks to subtropical climate. In summer season just take your time and enjoy the beach and then all the out-of-the-box architectural creations.
In winter season it’s quite nice to pick a café (prices drop really low in November-April) and to try famous Adharian Khachapuri (Khacha – cheese, Puri – bread), then – to go to some bar, for example Vinyl, which is at the main square and to listen to some local band playing rock covers or national songs.
Temperature in winter is unpredictable again, like in December once it was +26 C and I was wearing top and skirt and after a week suddenly it was snowing! Actually, quite a rare thing – to see a palm tree in the middle of snowy terrain!
For nature lovers
In Batumi you feel really close to nature because from every part of the city you can see the mountains. In summer It’s sweet to go rafting or paragliding just 40 minutes away from the city. Also, there many national parks nearby for e.g. Mtirala, where you can pick a hiking trail and enjoy gorgeous rivers, flora and clean air. Must-see sight only 9 km from the city is Batumi Botanical Garden. It is unique because it has representatives (trees and so on) of totally different climate zones! Imagine floristic sectors of South America and Himalayas located close to each other! The entrance is not free, but if you make friends with locals they will show you the secret path Devote a day or two for exploring this place. In winter time you can go snowboarding at the new ski resort 2 hours’ drive from Batumi. Quite a bit to do here, huh?
- Try to find a person who speaks English! It will be hard, yes, but if you do it – get ready for success. Locals will take care of you: you will try the best food in local restaurants, you will see the best views (maybe even from the roof of Radisson!) and you will be guided through the bazaars and shops (and won’t be cheated because that’s what they often do here with foreigners)!
- Transport system is quite nice, westernized, there are even timetables at the bus stops so don’t worry about moving around.
- Download Maps.me app, it has an excellent map of Batumi and Adjara (as well as of all Georgia).
- Learn two phrases “Gamarjoba”, which means “Hello” and “Didi madloba” which means “Thank you a lot!”, it will help break the ice but, anyways with Georgians, especially Adjara people, you rarely have to do that, they already like you 🙂