BATUMI, AFFORDABLE AND BEAUTIFUL
The first part of a 2 part series of traveling to Georgia.
Batumi, here I come.
Ladies and Gentleman,
First and for most, this is one of the more surprising destinations I got to travel to. I really didn't know what to expect, but before diving into the things you can do in Batumi and the surrounding environment, a little bit of background is in order.
Batumi, Georgia is a vacation town located right on the shore of the black sea. Yeah, you got the beach, luxury hotels, casino and even a dancing fountain show, so you can definitely hang around the town for a few days and relax. I do hope you will explore a little bit outside the city like I did.
This trip was just what I needed. Had to take a breather from work (we all need that from time to time), prices were very affordable and booking this vacation was a no brainer. Still didn't know a lot about this place beside the fact that it is located on the Black sea. The deal was 450$ that included flight from Israel to Batumi (they have their own airport), a 3 night stay at the 5-star hotel, Hilton Batumi (breakfast included) and transfer from the airport to the hotel. You can't really say no to a deal like that. Vacation took place in November so this is definitely a location suited for autumn as well. The weather was breezy at night so make sure to bring a light jacket with you.
We arrived at Batumi airport after a 3-hour flight just in time to drop our luggage in the rooms and head to dinner.
The Hilton was a newly built hotel right in the middle of the Batumi boulevard. We were upgraded to the executive rooms on the 18th floor of the hotel with views to the beach. Room was big, everything brand new, balcony (you will see the view later) and was greeted with fresh fruits and a bottle of local sparkling wine. The executive rooms also get entrance to the executive lounge which I obviously used. The bed looked so inviting but off to dinner in the city. We landed in a restaurant called Shumeruli. It is hard for me to recommend this place because the food was just OK, not more and not less.
Turned in to a great night sleep back at the hotel.
Day 2 - Exploring the city, Cable car and more
Waking up in the morning to the sight of crystal clear water is the best kind of energy boost you can get.
By the way, if you do go to the Hilton and don't get a sea view room, trust me, no need to be alarmed, bummed or worried. The view you get of the Nurigely lake and the 6th of May park combined with the mountains in the background is breathtaking as well. You really can't go wrong here.
The view from the executive lounge is not too bad also. This picture tells the story of Batumi in a nutshell. So much potential that is now finally being realized, so you will see some construction work around the city. You will see a definitive conflict regarding architecture. Old buildings in the inner city but the coast line is a different story. Things are going in the right direction here. Don't be surprised when you go to the inner parts of the city, it is kinda neglected over there. I do hope this place will get the make over it need and not just on the coast line.
The best part about having breakfast at the hotel is you can stay in your pajamas while you go down to the dining room (depends on the pajamas you have on obviously). I'm guilty of that myself.
After breakfast, it was finally time to see what Batumi is all about.
The weather was simply perfect! It was still November and it was a little chilly but the sun was out, skies were on point with light blue color and covered by white clouds. Everything at the 6th of May park was green but signs of autumn were not absent.
Around the park, you have a few attractions I didn't get a chance to check myself but feel free to try and give me your impressions in the comments section below. You can take a boat ride in the lake, a dolphin show in the Dolphinarium and even a small scale Zoo.
After admiring the beautiful lake we went on a search for a local Sim card in the city. Gotta stay connected, right? If you do need a Sim card here prices are very cheap! a 4GB internet package cost around 10 Lari (4 USD). Coverage in the city is great but if you go to soak in some nature outside the city, coverage is on and off.
The Europe square, in my opinion, is a must see when in Batumi. beautiful modern and classic architecture surrounding the statue of Medea. On one of the buildings, you can witness the astronomical clock. You can wander here and admire the beautiful scene or relax in one of the Cafe's or restaurants around the square.
From the square, we headed to the Batumi port on our way to the highlight of the day which is the Argo Entertaining center and cable car to take a ride up for a panoramic view from the Anuria mountain that goes on for miles and miles. Entry fee is 10 Lari and now you will see that it is worth every Lari.
Side note - Don't mind the outfits in this blog post. This trip was all about exploring the city and nature around it. By the way, my first time capturing scenes with a GoPro. Till now all pictures were taken with my iPhone 6s. In future travels, I will finally start using my new Sony a6000 camera I got in Singapore (next blog post on the list).
Up here at the top, you have a restaurant you can relax and enjoy your cup of coffee like I did. I say it is always a good idea to find good locations to have your cup of coffee. A great view like we had today was just the right one.
After we enjoyed the fresh mountain air it was time to finally have some of my favorite Georgian food - Khinkali.
The place is called Khinklis Gemo. For those of you who are not familiar with Khinkali, this is actually a big dumpling filled with seasoned meat (Beef). The surprising thing about this is that the juices formed by the beef inside actually turn into soup. So in order to eat it right, you hold it from the top part, take a small bite to create a hole, drink the soup and finish off with eating the entire thing. Nice addition to the dish is, of course, Chacha - the Georgian Brandy (it is kinda strong).
After the late lunch, we headed back to the hotel for some rest and getting ready for dinner we booked this time at the hotel.
| Outfit: Pants: Zara, Shirt: Zara, Shoes: Aldo, Watch: MVMT |
Day 3 - Going East outside the city
Remember in the beginning of this post I told you that the city of Batumi is nice but touring outside the city is even better? So this is where we start.
The first thing to know is that trips outside the city require a local driver to escort you throughout the day. A private car should cost around 150 Lari per day and a bigger car (more than 4 people) should cost around 250 Lari a day, gas included. Set the price before you start the ride (this tip is for taking a taxi as well). So we took a driver right next to our hotel and we started our way south east to a road going along the Chorokhi river.
The road to Dandalo bridge takes about an hour. I don't think anybody, ever, did it without stopping a few times along the road to admire the beauty that surrounds you while you drive.
First stop was at the Makhuntseti Bridge and waterfall.
The waterfall was stunning! there were no tourists around so I had all the time in the world to have some fun and capture some great scenes involving the waterfall.
Makhuntseti Bridge is a beautiful arch shaped bridge made of volcanic rocks. The bridge was built over the Acharistskali river.
Next stop of the ride was obviously food related. This place is located just on the side of the road so no need to make any special detours. If you do see this place, do yourselves a favor and stop to get some Georgian bread. I try to stay away from foods that contain Gluten but this is one tasty bread.
After another 10 minutes of driving, we arrived at our destination.
| Outfit: Shirt: Zara, Pants: Zara, Sunglasses: Carolina Lemke, Shoes: awesome green All-stars |
I give you Dandalo Bridge. This place was gorgeous. I don't know is it was the weather that was again in our favor, maybe all the green grass combined with yellow and orange leaves hanging from the trees all around us. As you can see I took my time to fool around with the GoPro. Definitely a nice addition, to any trip.
I don't really know what have you heard about the Georgian people and their hospitality but in the middle of the road, our driver simply told us he wants us to stop at his mom's place for some light snacks. Obviously asked for coffee and in addition he brought us some grapes from the vineyard his mom has in her back yard. Feeling more refreshed we started our ride back to Batumi, not before making 3 more stops along the road.
First stop was actually a random bathroom break that turned out to be next to a small beautiful waterfall. If you watch closely in the picture above you can see the white toilet cabin in the middle of the road. this place was a lucky finding. I couldn't find the location of this place over the internet and believe me I tried. Just keep your eyes open and maybe you will find it too.
Second stop was at the Adjarian wine house which is located right in the middle of the road back from Dandalo to Batumi. I was starving already and couldn't wait for dinner so we stopped there to eat. Food was good, location was amazing. It is a restored complex that has a Vineyard, wine factory and cellar and a restaurant. Definitely worth a visit.
Third and final stop before getting back to the hotel was the Gonio fortress. It is located right south of Batumi. The fortress dates back to Roman times when they had a fortification in the area. We couldn't walk around so much because it was already closing when we arrived. It is a cool place to see from what we were able to experience.
Came back to the hotel just in time to witness a beautiful sunset from the room's balcony. I pulled up a chair and just sat there to clear my mind and relax after a long day on the road.
Dinner this time was at Khinkali House Shatili in Batumi. Again having Khinkali, but this time I'm going to share with you a pro tip. Tell the waiter to fry them before serving them to the table. This is really taking the dish to the next level.
Day 4 - Let's see some trees
Last day in Batumi. Our flight back to Israel was at night so we had a few hours to kill before we needed to start making our way to the airport.
Pro tip - We had 3 rooms at the hotel and we knew we want to have time before the flight for a quick shower and organizing without any pressure. So we checked out 2 of the rooms and paid for a late check out for the third one.
Relaxed and carefree I made my way to the botanical gardens of Batumi. It is located in the northern part of Batumi, around 20 minutes of driving from the hotel.
The botanical gardens were beautiful. So many kinds of trees and in so many colors. you can easily spend 2-3 hours here. If you do get here, make sure not to be lazy and make it all the way to the top. There are some beautiful view points along the way that over look the Black sea.
From there to the last place I visited in Batumi - the Alphabetic tower of Batumi.
This 130 Meters tower of located at the north part of the boulevard next to the beach. At the top part of the tower, you can find a Cafe, restaurant and an observation deck over looking the city.
From there back to the hotel to pack everything up and head to the airport.
Funny story - I made my way to the airport to catch the flight back to Israel, upon arrival I notice the entire airport is closed. No one was there except a security guard. Had no idea what was going on until we contacted the front desk at the hotel only to find out the airport is closed due to weather conditions and all flight (including ours) were leaving from Kutaisi airport.
Luckily we just made it to the last bus going to the airport. People's faces on the bus didn't look all that happy to see us because our mix up made them wait till we got back to the hotel and hopped on the bus.
Thank you, Batumi, for a great affordable and beautiful trip.