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Entries about borjomi

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 Comments (0)

Day five - Tbilisi to Borjomi

Saturday 31 August

rain 23 °C

Basically, our main focus was to get packed, eat breakfast and get out of the apartment. It was raining outside and puddles were beginning to form in the dug up road outside the bedroom window. Not a very inspiring start to the day. Our host Gnn came to pick up the key as we left and we trundled off to Liberty Square metro in the rain. Fast and Furious we’re still filming as we walked by. We will have to go and see the film although we suspect the car chase will probably be about 2 minutes long. Still no sign of Vin Diesel.

Negotiating the barriers and escalators with large cases was a bit of a challenge but we just about managed it. It’s a long ride down. Our destination was Didube where the Marshrutka heading for the north and west, set out from. The rain persisted but wasn’t heavy & the temperature wasn’t cold either. When we got out of the station, the car park was rammed with what seemed like hundreds of buses making it hard to know where to go. Luckily someone pointed us In the right direction and we managed to get onto a bus that was half full. The buses don’t leave until they are full so we had to wait a little while. Once full, the bus was about to set off when a woman got on last minute with no seat available. Once we left the bus station the driver stopped and got a tiny chair from the boot and put it in the space between two seats. We suspect that this isn’t even legal in Georgia, a country where rules seem prett relaxed, especially on the road.

The journey took 2 hours which went quickly. The scenery wasn’t that exciting until we reached the mountainous area - vast flat plains are just not scenic enough. Borjomi at first sight seemed like a nice little town with a river running through and lots of greenery. The bus stop was very close to our new home - Guest House Casa on Saakadze Street. A bit of a trudge up the hill and we arrived to where a group of excited children were playing happily. Our hosts are lovely and made us feel very welcome. We were given a recommendation for lunch and headed off for an explore of the town. Pesvebi restaurant was on the other side of the river on Erekle Street. It had the usual Georgian fare with a nice terrace overlooking the river. I had salad with corn bread and cheese which was pretty good. From there we went to the Inka cafe for coffee and were also tempted by the cake - which maybe wasn’t a good thing for my waist line.

From there it was a straight run to the mineral water park. There is a small entry fee to go into the grounds. We were going to check out the sulphur pools which were about 4k along the track that runs alongside the river. To get there you have to run the gauntlet of the rather rundown amusement park and the general hawkers that can be found at sites like this. There is also a cheesy ‘Love Bridge’ where newly weds can have their photo taken. This seems to be a thing in Georgia - at Gergeti there were couples having their wedding photos taken against a background of dramatic mountain scenery. The worst exhibit seemed to be the wax works which apparently is the ‘best’ in Georgia. I beg to differ after seeing what was outside.

We didn’t make it to the sulphur pools but went up in the cable car instead which was pretty old unlike the modern ones we rode in Tbilisi. Not sure when it was built but it certainly has a touch of the soviets about it. At the top is a Ferris wheel but we declined to go on it and decided to take the cable car back down and make our way back. Apparently, Borjomi is famous for it’s mineral water which is a big part of their export market. None of us have tasted it yet mostly because of previous experiences of spa water.

Just after we got back to the guest house, the heaven’s opened and there was an absolute downpour. We took refuge, had a bit of down time before venturing out again. Nick had found a restaurant that had been highly recommended but when we got there it was closed. We went into the next place we came across - Cafe Tourist. The people just leaving we’re really singing it’s praises so we thought we’d give it a go. Usual fare but my bean stew was very tasty. We also had to sit at a small table with Joseph Stalin looking down at us. We weren’t entirely sure if it was an ironic statement or whether the family were die-hard Stalinists. Despite that, I’d definitely recommend the place - it’s on Nodar Dumbadze Street close to the Borjomi puppet theatre.

Feeling full to the brim after two pretty big meals in one day, we made our way back and rewarded ourselves with a good night’s sleep.

Posted by Cath_Greig 05:55 Archived in Georgia Tagged waterfalls food borjomi Comments (0)

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