Tbilisi -> Batumi – Stalin, 1 dog and strenuous leisureliness

18. + 19. May 2023



I often look for a destination a little further away (here 4.5 km) and walk it and see what I can see on the way. There is a lot to look at in Tbilisi, lots of interestingly designed houses, from modern renovated or newly built to crumbling and dilapidated. Problem: photographically, I have the feeling that I’m always repeating myself and, in principle, reproducing things that have been depicted too often. So I took few pictures.


But there was one interesting observation. In the area where I stayed, there are a lot of cats.


1 cat in passage to courtyard


And somewhere it changed to dogs.


2 dogs on the street


I didn’t have any pepper spray with me and it wasn’t necessary because the dogs were either disinterested or friendly (except one on the way back, he only had 3 legs but had a problem with me – luckily the owner in the park was able to intervene right away). One was too friendly or adopted me as a new mistress or something. Anyway, he accompanied me – for miles! The one on the right in the picture above.


Accompagnying dog at railway tracks


I often asked him to go home again, as I was not a dog lover, but he persisted. We had several encounters with other dogs. And when we arrived at the sight, he even accompanied me down these stairs:




Here he is at the sightseeing:


dog and printing press


Yes, so this sight was Stalin’s underground printing press where many many pamphlets were printed in Georgian, Russian and Armenian and distributed in the country afterwards. Since 1903 it stood in an underground room, connected to a very deep well (still there), one entrance from above and one from the well. At the top there was a house with a veranda from where one could see the approaching gendarmerie and close everything. Stalin was already suspected. In 1906, 150 gendarmes were sent to investigate. Stalin and his people had been informed in advance and had moved away. The 150 people didn’t see anything and were about to leave again without having achieved anything, but then one of them had an idea, lit a newspaper on fire and threw it into the well. They saw it disappear into an opening in the side and were alarmed. A fireman was lowered down and discovered the printing press. It was removed and everything was set on fire.


In 1937 everything was rebuilt and a museum was erected. On an English note it boasts of having already been visited by leading personalities from 150 countries, including only Indira Gandhi mentioned by name.


This museum is maintained by an independent gentleman named Soso, who also shows people around. Coincidentally, I met a young Irishman at the same time and we were shown around together. Soso doesn’t speak English, but hands you a piece of paper and talks enthusiastically to you in the hope that we understand everything. According to internet information, he is an ardent communist. Perhaps this picture makes it clear?


young Stalin


Besides the printing press, there were also the two rooms in the house and next door 2 other rooms with memorabilia, pictures and texts to see.




Flag of Georgia from communist times


Soso suggested us to sit on the bed and take a photo


Irishman on bed


me on bed


It was only afterwards that I realised how strange it actually was. Because I would never have let myself be photographed with a picture of Hitler behind me. A certain distance?


Then I walked back along another path. I saw a strange wheelchair user in the middle of a busy bridge (just without any cars). Somewhere before this bridge, by the way, I lost the dog.




A square with Georgian and EU flags (a survey showed that 80% of the population would like to join – but they are very disappointed that it has been denied so far despite efforts that are considered exemplary):




I passed by a commemorative plate for the longest handshake, as I had done on the previous visit. Very symbolic: an Armenian and a Turkish actor did this on neutral ground as a sign. Unfortunately, there were no consequences, it remains difficult.


memory plate


And everywhere there are many beautiful murals in public spaces.




I ate my belated lunch (carrot salad with walnuts) and went to the accommodation, as it was raining unpleasantly by now and I was tired.


yummy lunch


The next day I had booked a train ride to Batumi. At the previous time, I had liked the train ride to Yerevan very much. This time the one to Batumi, not so much. Although it started quite well: I arrived at the station and the train was already there:


trainstation Tbilisi


Inside it was modern, spacious and clean. There were 2 floors and the nice railway official had given me a window seat upstairs facing the direction of travel. But what a disappointment: “pixelated” windows!




And so there are no pictures of passing scenery. Next challenge: screaming and shrieking children again. This time more than 5 years, too. I hated them! The ones next to me either. We nodded in agreement, sighing. Otherwise she didn’t speak. Not even to her man sitting next to her. They had their front tables folded down and the mobile phone on top of each. There is no dining car or anything, you take your food with you.




The train crawled. Most of the time. There wasn’t quite as much to see through the window pixels, the children shrieked, I listened to some podcasts and tamed my impatience. But we were only about 10 minutes late.


trainstation Batumi


I used the local taxi app for the first time – it works slightly differently from the Indian one. But only slightly. A taxi came and took me to town. That’s where Couchsurfer Nikita lives and I’m staying with him. I was flabbergasted on the way! The hammer! Batumi is killing me! Really! I haven’t seen that yet! But that will come in the next blog post 😃.