A Travellerspoint blog

Day seven - catching the cuckoo train

Monday 2 September 2019

storm 17 °C

The train from Borjomi to Bakuriani is a narrow gauge train line also know as the cuckoo line. It leaves Borjomi twice a day - 7.15 or 10.55am at a cost of 2 GEL. . We plumped for the earlier train and got their quite early. The weather was a lot colder than I expected as I still had the lingering memory of the heat of the previous day. I took a raincoat as rain was forecast but didn’t also take enough additional layers despite having several season’s worth of clothes with me. Two hour journey was pretty cold. Only a few other tourists on the train - the rest were locals who hopped on and off the train as it slowly made its way up the steep terrain. Lovely scenery but upsetting to see plastic bottles and other litter in amongst the undergrowth. There were quite a few stations on the line but people were also getting on and off the train while it was moving - not that it ever went much above a snail’s pace by railway standards.

By the time we got to Bakuriani, I was pretty cold despite the sun starting to break through the clouds. First stop was a coffee shop for breakfast, coffee and a warm up. Our goal was to find the cable car to go further up the mountain. We were pointed in the right direction but had no idea if it was close or a long distance away. We trudged up through the town past The ski resort hotel accommodation. Seemed to be a lot of refurbishment of hotels and new building going on. A taxi driver asked if we wanted a lift and although we declined by the time we actually arrived at the cable car we had covered a lot of distance and could see why other people were flying past us in a taxi. It was good to be out walking in the fresh air but the trucks going backwards and forwards to the building sites didn’t make it a pleasant experience.

The cable car took us up to a halfway point - there’s a cafe overlooking the valley and a ‘monorail’ type of toboggan ride that looked fun but I felt that it was probably too cold to go on it. There was a family who were giving it a go as we arrived who told me that it was brilliant but I still wasn’t tempted though. After another warming coffee, we decided not to do the chairlift to the top as the cloud was starting to descend and we wouldn’t have seen anything and we would have just got cold again. We took the cable car down, made our way into town and bought a tasty freshly backed loaf of Georgian bread to go with our lunch. We couldn’t resist nibbling bits as we made our way down. By this time the rain was starting to come down hard and with a 30 minute wait for they bus, we decided to take a taxi. The marshstruka leaves hourly but there was a gap in the middle of the day with none going at 1.00 or 2.00pm. 40 lari seemed quite steep but we hadn’t realised quite how far the journey was as they taxi had to use winding roads to get back to Borjomi.

We got the driver to drop us off near the tourist information just so we could check about the best way of getting to the coast. Doing the 5 hour journey in a marshstruka didn’t fill us with joy especially as there was only one per day and there was no guarantee that we could get seats and luggage onto the bus. I think this is the main downside of travelling this way if you are carrying big cases. There is very little room for luggage as the priority is getting a full bus and optimum fares. There was no other practical solution other than going on a 2 hour bus journey to Tbilisi and then getting the train to Batumi which also takes a long time.

Once we were back at the guesthouse we had a very late lunch after a visit to the supermarket deli. I think our host was very impressed with our Georgian fare. He gave us some useful advice about getting to Batumi. Apparently the marshstruka to Batumi is a very uncomfortable ride as the bus is usually very old and crowded with little room for luggage. He suggested getting one to Khashuri and change buses there as the marshstruka were more modern and spacious. The journey wouldn’t be shorter, just more comfortable. There is nothing like a bit of local knowledge to make life easier.

After a bit of rest and down time we decided to go to the first restaurant that we had been to - Pesvebi. We were hoping to get down there a bit earlier than usual as we would be leaving the next day. However, the rain that had been coming down quite steadily, erupted into a full blown storm with impressive forked lightning and thunder, very close by. At one point the power went out so we were left in darkness for about 20 minutes. Once the power came back on and the rain had abated, we finally managed to leave the apartment and make our way to the restaurant. We had a great meal there - I would highly recommend it. And it figures highly in Trip Advisor, too. Although the food was delicious, and we have had good food elsewhere I’m beginning to find that the limited Georgian cuisine is making me yearn for an Indian or Thai meal. There just isn’t the variety and it’s also very bread based.

Time for a nightcap and good night’s sleep before the next adventure.

Posted by Cath_Greig 06:27 Archived in Georgia Tagged car cable railway borjomi pesvebi bakuriani

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