We've embraced the 'Slow' philosophy as a way of life - what's the hurry?. Taking time to smell the roses (usually on a glass of Viognier) is more our style. Having spent more then 3 years on the road, slow travel has become a way of life. We have revised our plans completely and now focus on quality, not quantity, slowly.
First the weather report! It’s raining as I write, but we’ve
quite a few sunny days since being in Georgia so I’m not going to whinge.
Our last stop in Turkey saw us driving back into the
mountains – one last effort to do some hiking in Turkey. But, alas, it was
snowing. The area was really beautiful, reminiscent of Swiss Alps, but too cold
to do anything. We had planned to camp up there for the night but the forecast
was for minus 5 degrees, and we just couldn’t face it.
So we headed for the coast and the Georgian Border.
The border crossing looked like a real shemozzle, long long queues of trucks, but we got
through in 45 minutes with friendly Georgian officers welcoming us to Georgia
as though they meant it.
First stop the lovely city of Batumi. We booked into a
family run guest house/hotel and enjoyed hot showers everyday. They even did 2
huge loads of washing for us for a mere 8 euros. The room was about 22 euros a
The city is a mix of lovely pre-soviet era buildings, most
tastefully renovated, grim soviet style apartment blocks and new glass
monstrosities. The city centre was really lovely though, with wide tree lined
streets, parks and beautiful buildings.
The coast sported a well used boardwalk and good cafes
serving good, cheap food and wine. Plus the sun was shining. We were very
Next stop was a wetland area (Kolkheti National Park) to
look for some birds. The spring migration was over but we took a boat trip (in
a tinny!) and saw a White Tailed Sea Eagle and an Osprey who really showed off
Heading further north into the ancient Svaneti area, we took
an exciting, beautiful road to Mestia. The road was full of landslips and
rock-falls due to heavy recent rain. Luckily none were happening as we drove.
We camped in Boris at a guest house where we were extremely
well fed for a very cheap price – details below. The first night we had dinner
with some hilarious Ukrainians, who were happy to share their white wine
straight from a 10 litre plastic bottle…
Svaneti towers where the locals would hide from marauding neighbours.
Our planned route south again was blocked by snow so we had
to return via the same route – oh well.
Next stop Kutaisi, not a town to get excited about but we
camped in a hotel ground. More like a park with a pond. Lovely!
From here on in I’m going to put some detail of places we
stayed, camped etc for those considering a similar trip. We’ve found other
peoples blogs to be extremely helpful in this regard and are happy to add our two cent’s worth.
For those not considering such a crazy journey, you can
ignore that bit!
Currently we are in the Lesser Caucasus camped in a
beautiful National Park. It was sunny yesterday when we arrived, so we whipped out the BBQ and chilled the wine. We managed a great walk this morning before the worst
of the rain. Lawrence was really hoping to see a Lammergeier Vulture as he
hasn’t ever managed to do so. (Neither have I, but feel my life is complete
nevertheless.) Neither did we see any of the 90 Brown Bears that allegedly live
here. Apparently there is a whole lot of interesting wildlife here but you must
venture right into the park, and camp out etc. to see it.
Idyllic camping spot
Next we are heading into Armenia before returning to
Tips For Would-be
First up, the driving in Georgia is crazy. They seem such
friendly, helpful people to meet, but turn in to suicidal maniacs when they get
behind the wheel. Drive cautiously and give way to everyone. They’ll pass you
at great speed on a blind bend and then stop in front of you to turn off or
chat to friend. You have been warned.
We stayed in a small family run hotel. It was very cheap and
clean, and street parking was fairly easy and free. They also did our washing.
Once again we stayed in a guest house, but parked in the
yard and slept in our camper. We ate breakfast and dinner in the Guest house –
good food and cheap. Nino speaks some English and is very helpful. Cost 100
lari for 2 nights including meals and hot showers. There is a washing machine.
Name: Nino Ratiani Guesthouse
It’s on the main road into town before you get to the main
square, on the right-hand side.
Don’t drive up here during heavy rain as landslips and
rock-falls are very common and some of those rocks were BIG. The onward road
past Ushguli was still blocked by snow in late April.
We camped in a hotel ground, which was lovely. Hotel Imeri Park is
on the main road in from the south, on the right-hand-side, behind a gas
station. They were quite happy for us to camp by the pond (full of noisy frogs)
for 2 nights. 15 lari per night. It was a really nice place to camp. Taxi into
town was about 5 lari.
We camped in the National Park near the refuge. First you
must go to the Visitors Centre just outside Borjomi on the road to the park
(right-hand side) to register and pay. They will give you a map and
instructions. It’s a beautiful area and well worth visiting