Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Black Sea, Part 4: Batumi

Batumi, Georgia. Lada and ludi.

I wasn't all that excited about going to Batumi. It was more of an "I should go there since I'm in Georgia" kind of thing. I had the impression it was the kind of touristy place big on nightclubs and Las Vegas-y kitsch. Not generally my preference.

But since we were going to Ureki, and then decided to hit Kobuleti, Sandy and I thought, why not? Sandy had already been and it wasn't her favorite place, but she was kind enough to accompany me.

Well, damn. I was pleasantly surprised at Batumi.

Batumi, Georgia - a plaza
Yeah, yeah, there was an arid beachside boardwalk, some so-so fountains, an odd, not-very-attractive tower sort of thing with a ball on top, and polished plazas a little too much like what one finds at upscale, American shopping gallerias. The statue with Medea holding up the golden fleece as if it were a jacket left behind by one of the kids.

Batumi ,Georgia - Medea and Golden Fleece

But I loved the pretty side streets. The architecture reminded me quite a lot of New Orleans' French Quarter, actually, with wide and deep second-story verandas, mixed in with a Playa del Carmen pastel palette.

Batumi, Georgia.

Batumi, Georgia.

Batumi, Georgia.

The botanical garden was a large sanctuary of natural shade, greenery, and vivid flowers.

Batumi, Georgia.

When we finished purchasing Batumi-Tbilisi tickets at the train station, we boarded a marshrutka standing by. Didn't know where it was going other than to somewhere in Batumi.

In fact, we had the good luck to pass through the back-end of Batumi, where we saw an intimidating array of oil or gas storage silos, the large local bazaar, and a school no different from what we had in Rustavi and Gori. And lo, we saw lots of bustle around the Cathedral of the Mother of God, a large church that would look at home in, say, Transylvania at night with trembling thunder and lightning strikes that illuminated the dark statue of Mary.  Beautiful, but in an eerie way.

Cathedral of the Mother of God. Batumi, Georgia.

Cathedral of the Mother of God. Batumi, Georgia.

It was the orthodox Palm Sunday, the Bazoba Sunday, as it's called here. Many vendors selling the leafed twigs from a certain shrub. Vendors selling natural dyes for the Orthodox Easter eggs. One dye source is the traditional one from the sap of a specific shrub. Another source is, I think, beet and other things that are soaked into sawdust. For both, one boils the eggs in the water with these twigs or sawdust.

Egg dyeing. Batumi, Georgia. Outside the Cathedral of the Mother of God.

The traditional orthodox Easter egg is a burgundy red. Looks like a color from the richest ancient tapestry.

Batumi, Georgia. Orthodox Palm Sunday (Bazoba), Cathedral of the Mother of God.

We looked inside the church.

 And looked outside.


We walked toward the beach and entered the botanical garden. Nice. We sat on a bench for quite a long while and people-watched and enjoyed the coolness of the shade, and when that got too chilly, moved over to a sunny spot and enjoyed the warmth of the sun. A bride and groom came through with their entourage and had photos taken.

Batumi, Georgia.

Getting kinda hungry now, so we made our way toward a Ukrainian restaurant Sandy had visited when she was here before. She ordered a stew sort of dish and was dismayed to see it covered in beloved Georgian mayonnaise. I ordered the fish recommended to me by a Georgian, only to learn it wasn't available at an affordable price, so I went with the red mullet and a boiled potato.

Batumi, Georgia.

Huh. Nely has served me this before and hers was just as good if not better.

We nipped next over to a little coffee shop called the Press Cafe. Signage referring to the WC as the "yellow press" warranted only a weak smile.

Batumi, Georgia. Press Cafe.

We commenced to more Batumi wandering.

I was in search of something, but damned if I can remember what it was. Something to do with a knife .... anyway, we trotted back over to the proles' neck of the woods, a ways from the tourist section. Sandy took a rest with our bags on a store stoop while I went to visit each little shop. I found a Goodwill store (read: Georgian Walmart) and invested some time of my life I'll never get back again, all for naught. The Goodwills here have a lot of stuff, but never seem to have what I'm looking for.

But I did see these sights:

Mercury Hotel, Batumi, Georgia.

Fish eyes, Batumi, Georgia.

Tobacco, Batumi, Georgia.

We'd had a good day. 

At about 10:00 p.m., we went to the train station for our overnight trip back to Tbilisi.

This was going to be fun.


Fleur Flaneur said...

Not to be a stalker, but I've been reading your back entries - I love your blog! It makes me quite homesick - I can't wait to come back to Tbilisi in July...

Mzuri said...

Hey Fleur - thanks! I've enjoyed visiting you at your blog, as well!