Georgia is a very interesting country to explore. It has been developed in under seven years, since its turbulent history.
Our young guides talked of horrific childhood memories, seeing men with rifles on the streets.
They’d been raised with no electricity and no TVs. Then they had electricity for a few hours in the mornings and the evenings.
Now, the country has been cleared of corruption and it is visibly developing rapidly, but controlled.
Our trip from Batumi Airport to the hotel would have taken far less time if our driver hadn’t stopped to shake his fist and hurl abuse at any car that drove beside him, in front of him, or anywhere near him.
Strangely, he was remarkably patient as he weaved in and out amongst the cows that seem to have right of way in the road. But as soon as he spotted another vehicle, all Hell broke loose.
Like a fool, I sat at the front. I instinctively braked when we approached the cars ahead, but he seemed to use them to stop, then he shouted and swore at them. We missed them by a cigarette paper.
Relieved, I staggered in to the hotel room and laid down with a cold flannel on my head!
It poured in the night, but it was hot and sunny again by breakfast time.
The Black Sea is almost level with the Mediterranean. The weather is hot for most of the year. But you can ski in the mountains.
After breakfast I went out to explore.
Walking around Batumi is difficult in places as up till now it has had practically no roads or pavements. And the existing ones are in a terrible state of repair.
I watched a fashionably-dressed young woman walking, or rather staggering past me. She had hoop earrings, a crop top, cut-off pants, and very high heels. She looked drunk as she tried to walk straight on the rough pavement.
There is work going on along every road, or that’s how it seemed. Piles of jigsaw-shaped paving slabs are stacked everywhere, with groups of men frantically fitting them together, in between breaks to discuss their work and watch the world go by.
Batumi is great for shopping, or just browsing. There are small shops everywhere. The clothes are often made locally. Prices are very low, and most shops and supermarkets were still open at 10.30pm. Some were open at 2am!
In one tiny shop that sold everything from swimwear to jewellery, I bought a pair of flip-flops and a lovely perfume for about £2.50 each.
The shopkeeper squirted the perfume in the air for me to try it, and then she rummaged in a dusty box for the carton. I pointed out that the perfume wasn’t actually new now, but she didn’t understand what the fuss was about. She finally reduced the price a bit.
The seafront isn’t very appealing yet, although it’s very clean. But you can view large plans of what’s going to happen, and there are bags of sand ready to cover the beach. There’s a lot of construction going on, but I was assured that the building will be limited.
Some of the blocks of flats look, well like blocks of flats! But at night when they’re lit up on the outside, they are completely transformed. Very impressive.
While sightseeing, I had to be discreet and tactful. A lot of the older residents still have a primitive fear of being photographed. Luckily I have a small camera that I can point and shoot without offending anyone. And everyone was very friendly, helpful, and curious about where I was from.
The Georgians are a very good-looking race, with black hair and long lashes. Despite the huge amounts of food that they consume, I didn’t see any overweight people.
Oh, the food! Just picture Spanish tapas for rugby players. Plate after plate appears on the table; all freshly-made with local ingredients, which is wonderful for me as I’m allergic to chemicals and preservatives in our food.
When every gap on the table has been filled, the main hot courses arrive. We worked out that the Grande Finale is always the chips! After being caught out several times, I learned to just taste a small portion of each dish.
Sitting outside one popular restaurant I had a lovely large, tender steak with gorgonzola sauce for 11 Lari.
One Lari =approximately £1.
In a heavenly peaceful setting in the middle of nowhere, we were serenaded by a polyphonic group while we ate.
Only men can perform it. They sing unaccompanied, in harmony. Each song starts with a traditional toast, followed by copious amounts of local wine.
It was one of those simple, but wonderful occasions that I’ll never forget, wherever else I go.
1 Poultry,London EC2R 8JR
Tel +44 (0) 2035449402
Mob. +44 (0) 7771622288
Georgian National Tourist Administration
4 Sanapiro Street