09 October 2013

Overcast but Lovely Batumi

KMac visited me in Istanbul. In fact she bought her ticket in like, April, and I've been looking forward to her visit ever since! While she was here, and since it's so close, we took the opportunity to visit nearby Georgia. I'd only been once before, to Tbilisi, and for three days in freezing, snowy winter, so I was very game.

Sadly it was quite overcast in Batumi and the weather took turns misting, sprinkling, and full on raining the entire day. Which means that the sky is basically white in all my pictures which is really quite annoying. Despite the dreary weather though, we were awed by how GREEN Batumi was. I don't just mean green, like the leaves hadn't started turning yet, but that everything was lushly, bright green. There's actually a word in Turkish for that, yemyeşil. Which I'm including here because I know everyone cares so very much.

My annoyance over the weather was momentarily overcome when I saw that very unassuming brick building hiding behind the yellow bus in the below picture. And my Russian Studies friends will understand why!

Because this plaque was on the wall!

I'm not a fan of Chekov, in fact I rather famously groaned through everything of his I had to read. Mostly I was just thrilled that I could read the plaque!

Since Batumi is a sea resort town, sitting on the Black Sea a stone's throw from Turkey, we decided to check out the beach. Being a Michigan girl I'm pretty spoiled. We have great beaches on Lake Michigan and I grew up on them. So the stony Batumi beach was less to my taste.

The surf was more than impressive though. And tricksey. The sound of the waves crashing ashore was amazingly loud. Given the overcastness of the day, once the sea was out of sight KMac and I forgot the booming noise was the surf and kept jumping thinking it was thunder. It rains a lot in Turkey but I'm having a hard time remembering thunder or lightening.

Before we left for Georgia my mom sent me a message to take pictures of more than just buildings. Why I don't know because buildings are awesome. But just for my mom:

BOOM! Dinosaurs are not buildings.
Let's take a moment to talk about Georgian food. Not only is it a pleasant change from a constant barrage of Turkish food...but Georgian food (aside from the overly liberal use of cilantro) is amazing. Eggplant with walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds? Yes. One of my top 10 favorite foods. And then there's Georgian obsession with khachapuri. Stripped down to its bare essence, khachapuri is basically bread, butter, and cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. There are several varieties of it but this is my favorite:

Khachapuri! Exclamation mark, happy face!!!
It's like a bread boat filled with one kind of cheese, then layered over the top with another, then topped with butter. Life doesn't really get any better. I think we ate at least one kind of khachapuri at least once a day every day we were there.

Then there are kinkhali. Kinkhali are like giant Chinese soup dumplings. In my humble opinion not quite as good because veal not pork and the overly liberal use of cilantro mentioned above, but these suckers are still good. There's an art to eating kinkhali. You hold the dumpling by the dough twist at the top, bite a side and suck out the juice, then devour everything else; everything except the twist actually. We had these in Batumi but later in our trip we at a monastery in Signagi and the nuns made them out of wild mushrooms instead of meat. Those were killer.

After our fortifying lunch we walked around the city where I found more buildings to take pictures of. Take that, Mom. I won't post them all here, there are just too many pictures so please check out our Facebook page to see them all! Batumi was full of interesting buildings, fountains, and statues.

I'm assuming the gold guy here is Neptune given the trident he's carrying. The extremely saucy mermaids accompanying him were another good clue. I don't think I've ever seen such a saucy mermaid before.

The below was apparently supposed to be used for a university but was eventually deemed impractical for such use. Cannot imagine why. I mean, if this were my university there's no way I wouldn't spend all my time in mini London Eye installed at the top. I would totally be studying.

Lie. I'd be riding that thing all day.
The Radisson in Batumi is an interesting building. I also rather love its modernness next to the classical style theatre.

We couldn't find a Catholic church here but did see a Franciscan wandering around so we figured there must be one somewhere. We did visit though a church that used to be Catholic and is now Georgian Orthodox.

Only one of many many on this trip

We were hosted on this trip by some rather illustrious acquaintances of KMac's. As part of that, we accompanied them on a tour of the Georgian Constitutional Court which is located in Batumi. It was amusing enough to get into the tinted-window, armored fortress of a car they have, but our greeting at the court by journalists and flash popping photographers was definitely a new experience for me. Also I've never been shadowed by a bodyguard before. KMac, whose boss being even more illustrious than our hosts, took it all in stride but I was had pressed to not giggle. Or, you know, fall down.

I'd like to see Batumi during season. I believe it's quite popular for resort seekers and I'm sure that stony beach is much busier in the summer. And if the city is this green at the end of September...I can't even imagine how beautiful it must be in the summer.

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