At the Hotel Classic I asked for a taxi to take me to the Batumi marshrutka. We got to station square before 10 and I immediately boarded a comfortable minibus with cushioned seats. Then I waited. And waited. And waited. No one else got on. I knew he wasn’t going to make a 7 hour trip only with me. Finally we left at 10.30 and drove to another place looking for passengers, then another. Finally about a half dozen people boarded and we were off.
Mostly the trip was relaxing. The sun was shining and the driver chose a varied entertainment program that included Georgian music, international pop, music videos and one strange comedy segment that seemed to be a Georgian version of Archie Bunker screaming at his hapless son and daughter in law. The other passengers chuckled. I liked the videos that seemed to show actual weddings where the men were twirling and leaping in traditional Georgian wedding dances.
Outside, we followed the river as it wove through a flat valley backed by verdant peaks. One house followed another, always with two stories, big enough for an extended family and with a plot of land. We hurtled past vegetable gardens, orchards, chickens and lots of cows. The cows have the run of the place here, loitering on railroad tracks, ambling down the road, nibbling around fences, snoozing in yards. They seem to wander around without any sort of human direction, assistance or discipline. Free range cows!
We passed clay jug territory where a procession of stalls displayed enough clay containers of all sizes to outfit the entire country in jugs and pots.
There was also an endless line of roadside stalls displaying enticing tomatoes, cucumbers and those little green plums that Georgians claim are good for the digestion..
We stopped only once for lunch where I had some sort of spicy stew. There were no pit stops, only cigarette stops. Pro tip: never board a marshrutka with a full bladder.
Oh there was another stop. There was that problem where I was afraid the minibus broke down but actually it was out of oil.
So we waited about 15 minutes until a taxi delivered a bottle of oil.
We finally arrived in Batumi near 6 and I checked into the aptly named Hotel Old Town. Although totally knackered I managed a stroll around town a little and to the port.
I grabbed a bite to eat in the old town, then headed up to the hotel’s new rooftop terrace for a look. Very nice.