Sometimes life is unfair and we are unlucky. The same thing could be said about the Caucasus region which has just about anything to become another great tourist destination, however it is so little known in the world. Such diversity of landscapes and architecture packed in such a small area is usually not very common. The country of Georgia with its cities Tbilisi and Batumi seems to be the perfect example. These cities are so close to each other but they are completely different. It only takes a couple of hours to drive from Tbilisi to Batumi and when you reach Batumi, you have the impression that you entered another country. It is also possible to take a local mini van - called marshrutka, it departs from Tbilisi very frequently, for an exceptionally low price - around 10 EUR or 13 USD but the journey is about 6 hours. There is also an overnight train that departures from Yerevan in Armenia via Tbilisi, this is the longest way but it has its charm.
Before traveling to Batumi, I spent the night in a hotel in Bakuriani, which is a Georgian ski resort. It was October, so it was pretty cool, around 10 degrees Celsius. The trees had started to turn red and it was a bit foggy. The drive to Batumi took around 5 hours, and the way the climate and the countryside was changing was amazing. From autumn, red and yellow colors to banana trees and exotic plants in a couple of hours. However, along the way, the beautiful landscape was spoiled here and there by terribly ugly and crumbling soviet-era blocks and abandoned factories taken over by nature. By the time we got closer to Batumi, the weather had changed completely. The sky was blue, the sun was shining and the outline of Batumi 'cityscape' emerged. In contrast to the gloomy soviet buildings we had passed by, it looked even more amazingly beautiful and modern.
When we reached the city, it was around 1 pm and it got really hot, above 30 degrees. Batumi, like Tbilisi was a bit messy at first glance and in it was the process of restoration. Some of the pavement was damaged, and old communist-era buildings were scattered around. But the whole city was unbelievably colorful, even the soviet buildings were painted in lively colors, and in the places where the restoration works had been finished, it was, in my opinion, the most charming city I had seen. The old town, the sea side and the piers were beautifully renovated, a few very modern high rise buildings and quite a lot of hotels appeared. It all looked more like mini version of Dubai or so than an impoverished town in a poor country.
Batumi attracts many tourists from the nearby regions: Turks, who come there for gambling in many of the city's casinos, and from Armenia whose citizens look for the sun and the sea. Unfortunately it is hardly known in the rest of the world. But I hope it will change in the future, because it's really a place that is worth visiting. The whole beauty of nature is combined at your fingertips: palm trees, the sea and the snow covered mountains of Caucasus are all in sight. Not to mention the original and beautiful modern architecture and the dolphinarium. The coast and beaches stretch for miles so it's a good idea to rent one of the city bikes. There are many stations available as well as a long cycle track along the coast.
This city was a very nice surprise for me, as if I had discovered something hidden and so beautiful. But the real show of colors starts after dark. If by day it was a nice surprise, then at night it was more of a shock. But in the very positive sense of this word. Really, even in western Europe it's hard to find such colorful, illuminated and glittering city. Virtually every palm tree is lit with a different color, the light on the buildings changes colors every few seconds and the tower of the Georgian alphabet, which is a great example of the modern architecture, glitters like a diamond. Really unforgettable experience. Another great example is the statue of love - two moving statues, to be precise, that literally go through themselves, turn around and go through themselves again. There are also dancing fountains where, in the evenings whole families come to relax watching the show.
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