in the morning there is a knocking on the bus. a man is at the door. he doesn’t speak english, we don’t speak georgian. ahh, sleeping at this gas station is not free.
then the nameless guy disappears, only to reappear in front of the car within a few minutes with a pot of georgian coffee. he pulls two cups out of his sleeve.
we make him espresso. that’s how cultural exchange tastes.
the wheels roll to batumi, as far as the eye can see east chic. everything is so unbelievable. our eyes rotate. city villas line up next to torn down slab buildings. crazy and insane architecture reaches up into the sky. in the evening thousands of colored led lights pop up on the buildings and rhythmically change the colors. the colorful dance gives the city a special flair.
we like the fusion of soviet and european architecture paired with cosy urbanity and top-notch secondhand shops on the black sea.
not even the violent thunderstorm stops that. it whips through the streets for days, water masses thunder down from above and cause rain gutters to bubble over. nature fights, the city is motionless. yesterday people strolled along the promenade, today the energetic waves throw whole tree trunks including roots, plastic and other rubbish ashore.
from a high-rise window we observe the situation.
the day after, the weather calms down, the inhabitants walk meditatively to the scene of the event, carefully filling their bags with new things, wood is loaded and excavators shovel the channels free. the situation seems familiar, the procedure rehearsed.
again we follow the situation and are amazed.
paul simply wants to know, one last time he bathes in the black sea. it is bitterly cold. the season is over.
not far from the city, directly on the black sea, the beauty, but above all the variety of the botanical garden overpowers us. paradisiacal! tropical palms next to dense primeval forests, colorful flowers, juicy apple trees, wild growing flora and fauna. along the steep coast we lose ourselves in the lush green, the fresh air flows through us.
scene change poti, over bumpy roads we find a sleeping place directly at the foot of a red and white striped lighthouse. a rather desolate city, this poti. grey in grey it clings to the sea, where the mouldy water spills away. but in the morning, as the lighthouse keeper proudly leads us to the top, the city shows itself in its most enchanting sunday dress and the view dances around it like a great ballerina.
quite different kutaissi, a lively city. sugar bakeries and imaginative café houses, shady parks and various sights invite you to stop for a bite to eat. the cable car from communist times glides comfortably up and down and offers the best view of the 1000 year old bagrati cathedral. a masterpiece of georgian medieval architecture.
and as if we haven’t already been amazed enough by batumi, we are shown the way to tsaltkubo. a mysterious paradise, a large park surrounded by 20 sanatoriums complexes, in neoclassical style. suddenly abandoned after the collapse of the soviet union.
built then for the recreation and rehabilitation of the loyal citizens, many have now been used for over 20 years as accommodation for the refugees from abkhazia.
a handful of the sanatoriums are still in operation. the most famous, house no. 6, is adorned by stalin in heroic pose in the middle of a fresco above the entrance.
we euphorically roam the former palaces, the ivy covers the ground, mould marbles the walls, abandoned pools, dust blocks swirl above the creaking wooden parquet, stylish flowered shreds of wallpaper remind us of the glorious times.
our heads full of fantasies and questions – how guests recovered in this health resort, who the people were and how everything must have looked – we run into the arms of a nice man. the family father invites us and shows us around. he lives in one of the mentioned houses and is abkhazien.
his family tells a difficult story, but it won’t get them down. embraced by warm hospitality, we spend a few hours with them. the daughter plays her violin in the most beautiful tones and grandpa walks through his garden with a smile.
before we finally get our passports with visa and cpd (carnet de passage) a few weeks later, we spend autumn days in tiblisi. we warm ourselves in the traditional hot sulphur baths, explore the city and wander through the streets.
We didn’t have the faintest idea or the slightest clue where and how georgia is. It is a blast.