A Travellerspoint blog

Day twelve - back inland to the mountains

Saturday 7 September 2019

rain 24 °C

Woke up to a wet start to the day. We ditched plans for getting the bus to Batumi and flagged down a taxi instead. It costs 20 lari from Kvariati to Batumi. Traffic wasn’t too busy being a Saturday but Nick had to direct the taxi driver using google maps. A marshrutka to Kutaisi was loading up so we got on and then went to find something to eat. The buses was only half full so we were confident it wouldn’t leave without us. The bus station is very noisy and chaotic and all we managed to get was biscuits and some bananas but better than nothing , although I could have murdered a coffee.

The start of the journey was very wet but we gradually headed into drier conditions and the sun came out. It’s a two and a half hour journey to Kutaisi with one short cigarette break for the driver. We are beginning to get used to these long journeys in cramped conditions and no toilet on board! Our final destination was a hotel called Chateau Chikovani close to Okatse Canyon and miles from any town. The countryside we travelled through seemed to be full of small holdings and at various places, stall holders selling their home grown produce such as apples, figs, plums and the strings of walnuts in fruit. Kutaisi bus station was busy and jammed with cars and marshrutka. As soon as you get off you are assailed by taxi drivers. We were expecting a lift from the hotel but hadn’t heard back from them. Nick managed to persuade someone to ring the hotel for us - they offered to come and collect us but it would take an hour to get to Kutaisi. We decided to brave a taxi. To get away from the melee and to refuel, we went to MaccyDs as they had WiFi and decent toilets. I went to another cafe to get coffee and a carb laden bread and potato ‘wrap’.

Nick negotiated with a driver - the cost was 60 lari which is what the hotel would have charged us. Another argument erupted as taxi drivers who had intercepted us as we got off the bus were royally hacked off that we hadn’t chosen them. It seems that most arguments we’ve encountered have been related to travel. It was a beautiful drive to the canyon, a few hair pin bends but no death defying drops. We got a bit confused when we go to the village of Zeda Gordi, not helped by the language barrier. It turned out that the driver had been right about where our hotel was but we had insisted on being dropped off at the canyon whilst the hotel was further back down the road at the end of a muddy track. I waited with the bags whilst the others searched for the hotel and some time later a car appeared to pick me and the bags up.

The hotel is set in lovely grounds reached via an unmetalled road. The storm the previous night had knocked out the electricity and the internet had been down which is why we hadn’t heard from the hotel. The car that picked me up was driven by the IT guy who had come to fix it! The hotel is lovely with an outside seating area and gardens with water features. The rooms are spacious and plentiful so we could take our pick. I opted for one with a terrace.

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We ordered dinner for 7.30pm and went for an explore as we had two hours to kill. We checked out the canyon visitor centre before walking through the village. We got off the road and started down gravelled tracks heading in the general direction of a church that we could see atop a hill. It was hard going over rough ground but we could see some steep steps up to the church. When we got there it was obvious that these steps hadn’t been looked after - handrails were missing, steps had fallen off. It was a bit of a death trap but we’d come so far we decided to carry on upwards just as the rain started to come down. By the time we got to the top it was pouring but we managed to work our way round to the church which was absolutely tiny. There was a building next door that looked deserted - we wondered whether monks live there. There was also a woodpile with a pitchfork - Frankenstein and angry villagers springing to mind.

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As we walked back down the rain stopped and we were also joined by a couple of cows who seemed to be wending their way home. I found the sound of their cowbells quite intimidating. We got back to the hotel just in time for a quick change out of wet clothes and a bit of mud removal. I had ordered lobiani thinking I was getting bean stew. However, it turned out to be bean stuffed bread. It was tasty but too much. After the meal we took our wine outside and Nick chatted with the other guests. We were then invited to join them in their feast and toasting rounds. In the end these nationalities were represented- Russians, Georgians, Swiss, Bosnian, English, French and Armenian-Scots! It was a raucous evening involving a lot of drinking, terrible singing and Russian dancing. There were going to be a lot of sore heads in the morning!

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Posted by Cath_Greig 11:19 Archived in Georgia Tagged hotel drinking chateau_chikovani zeda_gordi

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