Under the sun of Batumi, Georgia
I didn’t plan to go to Batumi. The original plan was going to Caucasus, starting with Georgia and its capital, Tbilisi. And from there go straight to Armenia. But I had been hearing the name Batumi for quite some time. “Are you going to Georgia? Go to Batumi!” “Batumi is awesome!” “Where are you going in Georgia? Tbilisi and probably Batumi right?” It started in Moldova, but I kept hearing about this city in Ukraine, especially in Odessa.
All right all right, let’s go to Batumi to see how it is! That’s the advantage of travelling solo, you go wherever you want to go, you just follow your desires. No compromises, no concessions, you do what you want to do, no time constraints. After Odessa, here I am on the other side of the Black Sea, in Georgia. I was told later that there is a ferry going to Batumi from Odessa, and it takes two days. If I only knew earlier, I would have probably taken the ferry…
So here I am, again on the seaside, and I have to say it feels really good. There’s a long pedestrianized road, 7 kilometers long (4.5 miles), alongside the beach. It’s very enjoyable to walk along the beach on this road. People savor their ice cream there, others are jogging along, or just taking a walk. There are also some outdoor nightclubs for the party animals.
Batumi is sometimes rightly called ” The Las Vegas of Georgia”. There are a lot (I mean… a LOT!) of casinos in the city. And those casinos are full of people from Turkey. It’s because gambling is forbidden in Turkey, and the Turkish border is only 15 kilometers away (10 miles). People from Turkey go to Batumi with a lot of money to spend the evening, make it rain in the casinos, and then go back home during the night or early in the morning. Since the demand from the Turkish guys is really high, more and more casinos are being built. It’s a vicious/virtuous circle.
With the casinos, you can also add in this landscape hotels all over the place, and I don’t even count all those under construction (literally everywhere!). Now you understand why Batumi is compared to Las Vegas. A guy from Georgia told me “Man, if you want to invest money, you have to do it now! Prices are going to skyrocket in a few years! I already bought five apartments, two of them last year for almost nothing. They already gained an important added value.” A few days to relax yeah. Buy an apartment I don’t know…
As usual in the cities on the seaside and where the weather is nice, people are relaxed. People greey me again in the street, with “Yo!” and also some “How are you bro?“. Some kids point at me, say hi! Some children 7-8 years old, come talk to me in a perfect english. Some girls, 14-15 years old, come to me as well… Every five minutes, a taxi slow downs alongside me, honks at me and asks “Where do you want to go?” “I’m walking, thanks.” I’m clearly not from the area…
I think I ran into two or three black guys, who all came to talk to me when they saw me. Mostly from West Africa. We’ve all been through the same things. Some kids who all came to us to beg for money as soon as they catch sight of us. Damn they are taught in the cradle who they have to harass “You can see this guy comes from far away! That means he has money! Don’t let him go!“. Also in bars, someone from the staff who pretends to be interested in your story. Asking you where you’re from, what are you doing, if you’re alone, if you have wife, kids… And then proudly repeat everything to his/her workmates. I tend to stare at the person while he/she repeats everything (usually in your blind spot, but looking at you), it makes them uncomfortable.
The iconic tower of Batumi is the alphabetic tower. Construction began in 2010, and the tower was completed in December 2011. It’s a 130-meter high tower, emblematic of the city. It’s also a point of reference, because you can see it from far away. On the tower, you can see the 33 letters of the Georgian alphabet. An elevator gets you on top of the tower, to have a nice view of the city. There’s also a restaurant in the tower.
One of the places Batumi is really proud of is the botanical garden. I’m not gonna lie, this is not really the kind of places I enjoy going, but for those who are interested, this garden is tremendous, and you’ll see plants and trees from all over the world. You can get there for 8 lari (a little bit less than 3 euros).
And of course, take your time to walk around the old town, really charming! Enjoy the long road alongside the beach, and don’t forget to listen to this song by Filipinki, a Polish girls band from the 1960s!