Hear about travel to the western part of the Republic of Georgia as the Amateur Traveler talks to Emily Lush from wander-lush.org about the country she now calls home.
Emily says, “There’s a little bit of land between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. This is the place in the world where East and West Asia and Europe come to meet. And it’s a bit of a cliche, but it’s true. When you see a map, you’ll see what I mean. So we have Turkey to the south, also Armenia and Azerbaijan. And then there’s three countries that make up the South caucuses area with Georgia. To the north of Georgia, you have Russia and the sort of natural land bridge that is the Caucasus Mountains, which is the thing that a lot of people associate with Georgia is those mountains.”
“Western Georgia has just kind of everything that’s good about Georgia, packaged up into a region. There are seven regions that form the West. Within that you have these very distinct cultural pockets. In my personal opinion, the West has the most interesting cultures, the best food, there are some alternative wine regions that you can visit in this part of Georgia. There’s a tea route as well. If you like your Soviet throwbacks and styles, then you’ll really like the West. Lots of cool architecture, brutalist and crumbling buildings that are a lot of fun to explore and photograph.”
“You also have, of course, the mountains because the Caucuses mountains run across the top of the country. That’s kind of the backdrop that you get everywhere. No matter where you are. You can see those mountains. You have two really nice mountain regions in the West. One is very popular. One’s a bit more off the beaten track. Then, of course, you have the Black Sea. A lot of people are drawn to the beaches, there’s the sun and the surf. You can find some really nice swimming beaches to the north.”
Emily lays out an itinerary that starts in Kutaisi, then heads into the mountains, over to Samegrelo and Guria, then to the Black Sea coast and Batumi.
In and near Kutaisi, Emily recommends seeing the Gelati and Motsameta Monasteries, Bagrati Cathedral, the isolated hermitage of the Katskhi Column, the old Soviet cable cars of Chiatura, and the abandoned Soviet spa resort of Tskaltubo.
As we head into the mountains we make stops at the UNESCO site of Upper Svaneti, an old synagogue in Oni, ‘Stalin’s Dacha’ in Shovi, Nikortsminda Cathedral, the Lailashi Secret Pool, and the Khvanchkara wine region.
In Samegrelo, we enjoy the spicy food and the Dadiani Palace with a death mask of Napolean.
We talk about visiting the new tea route in Guria and explore the Soviet-era mosaics.
Finally, we get to the Black Sea coast where we can swim at a black sand beach or enjoy the city of Batumi. Emily was originally put off by the resorts of Batumi but has learned to love the old town, the botanical gardens, and some of the great views of the beautiful Black Sea.
Along the way, Emily introduces us to Georgian food and wine including lots and lots of cheese dishes.
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right click here to download (mp3)
A 3-Day Itinerary for Kutaisi
Kutaisi Cable Car
Colchis Fountain (Kutaisi)
The Cable Cars of Chiatura
Toma’s Wine Cellar (Kutaisi)
Resort Shovi – Travel in Georgia
Guest House Gallery (Georgia Oni) – Booking.com
Things to Do in Racha, Georgia’s Mountain Paradise
Diaroni Restaurant (Zugdidi)
Rare death mask of Napoleon Bonaparte exhibited in Tbilisi
Guide to Georgia’s Tea Route
Tea Route – Welcome to Guria
Petra Fortress (Kobuleti)
35 Awesome Things to Do in Batumi, Georgia: Beyond the Beach
Retro Restaurant (Batumi)
Laguna Restaurant (Batumi)
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