They did pretty well. The built-in DVD player in our truck helped. I had considered the DVD player a luxury; we bought the car used in a small market, and it just happened to have one. But I'm now thinking this may be a staple item in any future car we buy.
Anyway. As is typical for the Caucasus, parts of the drive were lovely, and parts were, well, not so lovely.
The road was quite good, considering, even winding through mountains and various tiny villages. The villages en route to Batumi (and, I'm told, throughout Georgia) each seem to specialize in one particular handicraft. First you pass through the hammock village, where outside every house for at least a mile hang hammocks and childrens' swings for sale. I am not sure how anyone makes any money, saturated as the market is.
You also drive through a village specializing in clay pots, from the tiny to the large-enough-to-fit-a-grown-man (these are meant for wine).
There is the village that is "the only place to get a decent cup of coffee" between Tbilisi and Batumi. It features three storefronts offering Lavazza coffee to go.
We stopped only in the village where there are at least 50 little old ladies hawking an eggy honey bread baked in a stone oven. One large loaf=$1.25.
We rolled into Batumi about six hours after we had left home (including a lengthy lunch stop). I had been there once, seven years ago, and was astonished at the changes.
My visit in 2005, unfortunately pre-blog, involved a stay in a rented apartment and a terrifying encounter with gypsies who tried to climb in through the window and spent the entire night breaking glass and yowling like wounded cats (or perhaps wounding actual cats, who then yowled), outside our window. Back then, Batumi was very run-down and not very attractive.
Now, however, the Black Sea resort town is home to multiple luxury hotels, and Donald Trump is said to be building a new one in the future. It's also home, as you can see, to some questionable architecture. And the water is still kind of dirty. The Outer Banks it's not, but still, it was nice to spend a weekend at the beach.
We stayed in the Sheraton, in a beautiful 17th floor suite Jeremy got for cheap thanks to his recent visit and some shrewd bargaining. November is off-season in Batumi so there were maybe five other guests at the hotel.
The views were pretty awesome.
The next day, we drove 20 minutes south to Sarpi, the border crossing into Turkey. I remembered from my previous trip that the water there was much cleaner than that in Batumi proper (Batumi is a port and all those ships coming in and out don't make for very clear water).
We spent several hours there, throwing rocks, playing in the one patch of black sand on the stony beach, and eventually, when it warmed up a bit, swimming in a picturesque lagoon.
|Note the mosque on the Turkish side of the border. There is|
a Georgian Orthodox church on the Georgian side.
I had hoped to enjoy a seaside dinner, watching the sunset over the Black Sea. Unfortunately, shortly after these photos were taken, I came down with either food poisoning or a stomach bug, and spent the rest of our trip in bed. Jeremy and the girls enjoyed a surprisingly tasty and reasonably priced room service dinner. Kids eat free!
Sadly, we ended up leaving Sunday instead of Monday, due in part to my illness. It was a rough road home, but still a great vacation (and good practice for next weekend, when we will hit the road again).