We traveled Georgia by public transport, thats how we got to feel the countries heartbeat.
AsiaGeorgia25 days / May 2019
Highs & Lows
Sulfur baths in Tbilisi!
Too much rain in the Caucasus mountains
Right now, you can see how quickly Georgia is developing. The influences of Russia are very noticeable, but more and more Georgia is orientating stronger to the west. We spend some days at the black sea, the caucasus mountains and the beautiful capital Tbilisi. We didn't plan anything it advance, but with airbnb and the help of the tourist office, this was easily possible.
We arrived in beautiful Tbilisi by plane. Its a good idea to use a taxi app, otherwise your ride to the center can become very expensive. We stayed at an airbnb close to the river, where there are lots of little streets you can spend your days strolling through. The prices are very affordable so drinking lots of coffee and trying all the different cafes in the city is a good idea. Tbilisi is the home of lots of artists and creatives, so you can see a lot of art and even find hidden spots to dance to some techno music. We most enjoyed the sulfur baths, where we got a scrub. Afterwards my skin was shining and looked super healthy!
We also did lots of sightseeing, visiting impressive churches, Tbilisi lake and many funiculars.
We went by train from Tbilisi to Batumi and our friendly airbnb-guy picked us up at the train station. I have mixed feelings about Batumi. The city had huge skyscrapers with weird things in it, for example a panoramic wheel on the top of one. There were many Russian and Turkish tourists, as the city is located close to the border. It's interesting to spend some time at the harbor and watch the fishermen do their daily routines. We ate lots of delicious local Georgian food, for example Badridschani, Khachapuri, Chinkali. Also for vegeterians there are many options, be brave and taste everything! We tried lots of local Georgian wine and beer, I can definitely recommend that!
I got the feeling that we didn't get to know the "real" Batumi. I don't know why, but I didn't like the energy of this place too much.
The route to Mestia was really arduous, it took us hours to get there by bus. Even though it was so hard to get there, I wouldn't want to miss this part of our journey, because we got to see the huge difference between city and rural areas in Georgia. Life is very simple on the countryside.
As we couldn't communicate with the bus driver and he sometimes just decided to stop and look worried under the engine hood of the bus, we were more than happy when we finally arrived in the little mountain village.
We loved Mestia, its located directly in the mountains of Svanetia in the caucasus. You can do lovely hiking trips there. Unfortunately we had some rain and the funicular to the mountains was closed, but we still did some nice trips. We stayed at a local guesthouse and enjoyed the hospitality of our hosts. The gave us homemade Katchapuri (the Georgian cheese bread, that is different in every location) and homemade wine (not so delicious...). They also told us some stories about the political situation of the country and how they are suffering under the influence of Putin.
We had the luck that we were there during a holiday. On the marketplace were many people in traditional clothes, groups of men singing spontaneous beautiful local songs from full throat and women dancing.
You have to visit the Svanetian towers, they shape the look of Mestia!
In Poti we were the only tourists. We stayed close to the beach in a house where many other people lived. It was sometimes very hard to communicate, so I would recommend to learn some Georgian. If you speak Russian, you also get through. People were a bit alienated by us and didn't really speak to us, so we didn't feel too welcomed there.
We enjoyed our time as the only ones lying on the beach with the beautiful panoramic view of the caucasus mountains directly starting close to the sea. We did some walks to the lake close by. As we had no car, we were limited to the area around our airbnb, but that was okay. You don't miss anything if you're not visiting Poti city. We bought our food at a local shop and cooked for ourselves every day. On some days, the sea was pretty dirty with lots of plastic in it, I think thats the reason why the locals avoid it most of the times. It makes me sad to see how bad mankind is treating our mother earth.
Nevertheless, it was very nice to enjoy some sun after the rainy days in Mestia.
From there, we took a modern train back to Tbilisi and spend our last days in the capital.
Q & A
What would you have changed?Spend less time in Batumi and more time at a smaller place at the black sea.
Anything go wrong during the trip?Sometimes we had a hard time catching the right bus, for example from Batumi to Mestia. As nobody spoke good English, we were very happy when the tourist office offered to help us and organized the trips for us.
Restaurant recommendations?Have brunch in Fabrika in Tiblisi
Tips you would give a friend?Learn to speak some Georgian, people will be delighted if the see that you make an effort.
Packing tips?Good shoes for the mountains in Svanetia and good nerves for the bus ride to get there.
Transportation Tips?There is a very modern train between Tbilisi and Batumi. It goes at least once a day, you can book it online. Between the other locations we went by bus. Sometimes it was hard to find out how to get everywhere, but google maps gives you a good first impression on where to ask for tickets.
Any surprises?Georgia was way less touristic than we thought, what gave us a very real insight into the country and the polite people. The downsight was that people barely spoke English.
Booking details?Airbnb and local tourist offices