Georgia – (country on the Black Sea next to Russia) – part 2, Batumi

Georgian traffic

August 8, 2017

Near the end of my bus journey, (I was in Georgia on my way from Kutaisi airport to Batumi), the driver finally got pulled over. After countless unnoticed offences it was finally time to fess up. The look on his face showed that he had seen it coming too. It was like just another day on the block for him.

Lots of nice cars in Georgia, the country (the one next to Russia).
About 1.2 million cars are registered in Georgia. Roughly one-third of those drive around in its capital, Tbilisi.
(Source: www.agenda.ge)

I have no idea what kind of fine he got, but when he got back on he didn’t say a word and drove off with the pneumatic door still open. The phone stayed in his pouch though. Thank God.

The dude might have been a bit off, he did have heart. On arrival he offered all of us help – whether we needed it or not. It was early and we were all in front of the Radisson Blu, a 5-star downtown hotel. Most of us looked a bit lost. So, not before long he was at it again, calling guesthouses and the like.

Lots of high rise in Batumi on the Black Sea.
A construction boom has transformed the skyline of downtown Batumi.

At one point it was my turn and even though there was nothing to be solved, (I just had to wait for my Airbnb hosts to give me a ride), he placed his phone in my palm and gestured to bring it up to my ear. I had to talk to this person on the other end; some kind of interpreter. She knew English.

*** Girl on phone: “Hello.”
*** Me: “Hi … he just handed me the phone … I’m …”
*** Girl on phone: “Yes, you need any help?”
*** Me: “Nah, I’m good, but thanks. Appreciate it.” And I handed back the phone.

Lots of fun 🙂

It was around 6:40 AM when my Russian Airbnb hosts showed up at the hotel. They were both friendly and the lady spoke English well. But smile or no smile, he did too turn into a monster behind the wheel. It was like déjà vu all over again. The road was his and to hell with everyone else. “Idiot,” (which is a universal word I suppose), I heard him say in his own language more than once.

Anyhow, they quickly put me away in this high-rise apartment on the 21st floor. All was modern and “IKEA” furnished and soon … I fell asleep.

Real estate dangers in Georgia, the country (the one next to Russia).
A nice view from the 21st floor. Oh? What’s that out on the edge? A nail.

The next day the building started to remind me of London’s Grenfell Tower, however. You know, the one that burned like a torch two months back (June). Horrific. And it became harder and harder to subdue these thoughts since, for one, fire safety measures were non-existent. I had found out after a power blackout forced me to make use of the staircase. There was no fire extinguisher, light, or fire door. Instead what I found was a million, or so, cigarette butts and semi-blocked stairs. Of course, a guard (or similar-looking guy) was nowhere to be seen either. All very unreal.

To make myself feel slightly better, I clocked my “escape” from and to the 21st floor with my Casio Pro Trek watch. It showed four-and-a-half-minutes, more or less (down is always a bit faster than up). However, doing the same haul in complete darkness would’ve been a different story. I was fully aware of that.

Cluttered stairwell in Batumi on the Black Sea.

Affordable real estate in Batumi, Georgia.
Property might be affordable in Georgia, it’s not always up to Western standards. The upper photo shows a blocked staircase.

Real estate in Batumi, (and presumably the rest of Georgia), might look appealing. But what is all this worth to you if it might not be safe?

Personally, I’d rather spend my money on things like swimming with dolphins. They had this option at the local dolphinarium and I eagerly put down 150 lari (almost $63) for 15 minutes in the pool with Mr. and Mrs. dolphin.

Swimming with dolphins in Batumi.

Swimming with dolphins at the dolphinarium.
I hope they will spend my money wisely (= buy them lots of fish).

And what’s there to say other than, “WOW.” These mammals are so powerful and, what’s the word, cute. They’re trained to perform and do tricks like hug and kiss people – and when it drags you through the water at like 10 mph you can feel nothing but awe.

Funny thing is that I had an appointment at noon, but when I showed up they somehow couldn’t find my booking. “AJ who?” was all I got.

I thought all this was a bit strange since the lady on the phone had spoken English very well and she had even repeated my booking a number of times to make sure. I had also written her name down, just in case. Strangely, no one seemed to know her. I didn’t want to think too much of it though; especially because they could fit me in an hour later. I just had to wait.

Local drink in Batumi, Georgia (the country, the one next to Russia).
Out on the streets of Batumi. Lady selling some kind of mystery drink. Too hard to read those characters.

Later on I had a similar experience. I had shaken hands with one of the local tennis coaches to meet the following day at a specific time for some extra backhand shots and whatnot. But when I showed up he made it clear, a little too fast and in flawless English, that I was too early. I was only supposed to be there an hour later. I had misunderstood, he said, while taking a short break from what seemed like a coaching session for some wealthy Russians.

From this I figured that it had to be a cultural thing; that the almighty dollar is king. Without even thinking twice, he had squeezed in some better-paying clientele.

🙂 My time was precious too, however. So regretfully I never got to play tennis in Georgia, the country on the Black Sea, the one next to Russia. I had a great time though.

God bless,

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