My second weekend in Georgia, I traveled to Batumi. Batumi is the second largest city in Georgia, behind Tbilisi. It is located in the Adjara region, on the coast of the Black Sea.
We rented a room in a cheap hostel for two nights. We arrived late Friday after travelling by bus and train through the beautiful, green, mountainous Georgian landscape. On Saturday, we ate crepes and omelettes for breakfast at the quaint cafe Chocolatte. Then we rented lounge chairs and spent most of the day relaxing on the beach and swimming in the sea. The beach is made entirely of pebbles and stones. The views off the coast are beautiful and the water is blue and clear. We even saw a few jellyfish. The prime season for Batumi is more towards July and August, so in June the beach and the city were not crowded. That was great for relaxing on the beach, but meant that the ferris wheel wasn’t up and running yet when we went walking on the pier that night.
In some ways, Batumi felt like the quintessential beach town. It has colorful, pastel buildings; quaint, eclectic coffee shops; parks littered with fountains and interesting statues; lounge chairs and cabanas on the beach; bars and restaurants to serve the sunbathers; and a bustling pier lit up at night with carnival games and rides and nightclubs. The new large hotels seemed to wait in anticipation for tourists from around the world.
Yet it is still undoubtedly a Georgian city, with its rich history shining through. This is most obvious in the alphabetic tower, holding a prominent place in the skyline. It’s DNA-like structure showcases and celebrates the uniqueness of the Georgian alphabet and language. It is also seen in the many traditional Georgian restaurants, serving Adjarian khachapuri, a regional variation of the national dish (I’m embarrassed to say that I wasn’t able to try it, though I’ve had a few other variations). I am sure that with more than a short weekend in the city, we would have been able to experience much more. One area that is impossible to miss is the central Europe Square, named in honor of Batumi joining the Assembly of European Regions. A golden statue of Medea towers on a pillar in the center of the square, representing historical European connections. The legend of Jason and the Golden Fleece is said to have taken place in present-day Western Georgia where Medea, daughter of the Kohlketian King, helped Jason steal the golden fleece, which earned its name from being used to strain the water in mountain streams in search of gold. In this way, Europe Square, like the city of Batumi itself, seems to represent both Georgia’s past and future.
By: Abigail Sharkey
Term: Summer 2017