Batumi was really different
Batumi Travel Blog› entry 33 of 57 › view all entries
Yesterday ended the first half of this voyage. Today we are the farthest East in distance and past the midpoint in time. It’s the 28th day – 4 weeks – on the ship and we are now heading home, very slowly but home. Since there are 27 more days to go I’m not going to start packing anytime soon.
Batumi, Georgia is in Asia but seems, as Cathy said, more Caribbean than Asian. It and Sochi, Russia both have sub tropical climates and are on the Black Sea but there the resemblance ends. In contrast to Sochi’s manicured and geometric park along the seaside, Batumi has a vast, sprawling naturalistic park that stretches forever through hills and reaches down to the sea.
The Caribbean aspect of Batumi is from its air of co-existing revitalization and decay. The roads are torn up and some of the Russian-era buildings look very dilapidated while roadgraders and cranes are constructing new ones. Our guide said several times “The people are very happy that we are building new for the better”.
There is a geometrically designed seaside park in the town but it’s obviously meant for children and families, not just for show. It even has a wedding pavilion that looks like the Jules Verne Nautilus. This town of 200,000 people is Georgia’s major port and is historically more geared to business than tourists but I’ve never felt more welcome as a tourist. A photographer followed us around all day, we were given very professionally done brochures (none of the odd spellings or phrasings like other towns, brochures, and a band even appeared on the dock in the afternoon to serenade us out of port.
Other people on the boat weren’t too impressed with some of the inconveniences and air of “we aren’t quite there yet” of Batumi, Georgia, but I loved it.
As it turned out the highlight was something nobody had anticipated – the Georgian Folklore show. How a town of 200,000 people managed to have so many truly talented singers and dancers is beyond me. A guide told me later that Georgian singing (and probably the dancing too) is a family tradition that is passed from generation to generation. Training begins almost at birth and the results are way beyond something the average person could ever achieve. A children's group came aboard the ship and their performance of the high jumps and three part harmony singing was as impressive as the adults’ saber dance had been earlier.
Georgia may not be the place for every traveler but it is definitely a great destination for anyone willing to try something very different and rewarding.