I was already in Batumi in 2008. And when I came back 15 years later, I just marvelled with huge eyes: I have never seen a place that has changed so much in such a short time! Today I walked km after km in the hope of spotting anything familiar. I was unsuccessful – except for one restaurant. That’s where I had my first lunch in Georgia.
Batumi, with its city centre, is only 18 km from the Turkish border on the Black Sea. It is the main port of Georgia – but more about that in the next post. In short, international investors have been active in Batumi since 2004, according to Wikipedia from Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkey. A whole lot of very tall buildings have gone up here in a very short time. Many bear the names of large hotel chains such as Marriott, Sheraton, Hilton, Ramada, Hyatt, etc. And each building looks like it has at least 1,000 rooms.
Back then I remembered three-storey buildings, no English-speaking people, easy for overview. Today I thought I was in a completely foreign city.
There is also a famous beach promenade, the Batumi Boulevard. It was 800 m long then and has been extended to 5 km now. And there is this beach behind it – it is full of stones, but people still like to relax there. Even when it wasn’t really warm. There were also sections without people and I photographed and photographed – and I don’t know how to be brief in terms of pictures. So there are many to see now:
And that brings us to the next topic: sculptures. There are more of them on the beach than these. And I photographed a few others as well.
This one is Fadiko Gogitidze, she is considered the first Georgian female pilot, but unfortunately died in 1940 during a test flight at the age of only 24.
A very popular one is that of Ali and Nino. It moves and the characters merge and then diverge again. Ali and Nino is a famous love story of an Azerbaijani Muslim and a Georgian Christian in Baku from the beginning of the 20th century. I haven’t read it yet, but I have a summary, which I won’t summarise now. It is interesting that the book is written under a pseudonym and no one knows who it actually was. There are several names being discussed.
What I also liked to photograph were the fairground-rides – mostly without people inside:
Even though there are few people in the pictures: Batumi is very busy, probably not only with tourists. It makes a more international and young impression on me. It didn’t seem as Georgian as I remembered it from 2008 and as I imagined it today. I was asked in advance what I liked or didn’t like about the changes. I can’t really say, I’m neutral. Actually, it’s a condition I like especially when travelling. Anyway, I always find it great to marvel and discover the unexpected. And even if I actually mainly wanted to go to the mountains: I am very happy to have travelled here!
This is now a nice end-of-beach picture – in the next blog post more about the couchsurfer, where I stayed and the harbour etc.