My writing includes my personal travel experiences, destination, history, and cultural information.
"Batumi, Georgia: Hidden Treasure of the Black Sea!" is written by a guest contributor, Mario D'Artagnan. He is an accomplished author and musician. Please see his Bio at the end of his wonderful article on Batumi. Dee Serkin
Batumi is the second-largest city in Georgia and the capital of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara. It is on the Black Sea on the southwest side of Georgia. It is located on the site of the ancient Greek colony in Colchis called Bathus, or Bathys, which means “deep harbor”.
Batumi is a Major Port City in Georgia
Batumi today is one of the main port cities of Georgia. It has the capacity for 80,000-ton tankers to take materials such as oil that are shipped through Georgia from Central Asia. Additionally, the city exports regional agricultural products. Since 1995 the freight conversion of the port has constantly risen, with approximately 8 million tons in 2001. The annual revenue from the port is estimated at between $200 million and $300 million.
The Economic Boom
Batumi has attracted international investors, and the prices of real estate continue to increase. In July 2007, the seat of the Constitutional Court of Georgia was moved from Tbilisi, the capital, to Batumi to stimulate regional development. Several new hotels opened after 2009, first the Sheraton in 2010 and the Radisson Blu in 2011. The city features several casinos that attract tourists from Turkey, where gambling is illegal. The mayor of Batumi has vowed to make Batumi the next Dubai.
An American Ex-Pat Living in Batumi
An American ex-pat, I recently relocated to Batumi. Assimilating to Batumi was a relatively easy process. I had done a lot of research prior to the move. I’ve discovered over the years that even though you investigate as best as you can, there is no substitution for simply being somewhere with your boots on the ground. I have lived in Batumi for two months now. So far, every expectation has been realized. It is amazing to me how Georgian people sincerely go out of their way to help strangers. The Georgians are very friendly, and the hospitality has been second to none. There are always language barriers in a foreign country, but by using a translator app, body language, and simply pointing to something, communication is alive and well. While listening to the Georgians speak, the tone of their voices has a certain calmness. I have discovered that local people under the age of 30 typically speak English. So far, I haven’t had any issues finding what I need. Generally, people who are working in restaurants or other services, speak English. I have always been interested in languages, and therefore will make a concerted attempt to at least learn some basic phrases. Walking around Batumi is especially fun because you never feel uncomfortable or crowded as in other European cities. Moreover, cars stop to allow you to cross the street. In the event you don’t feel like walking, a taxi can be hired, which is very inexpensive. The cost of living in Batumi is relatively cheap compared to other European destinations, especially food products.
THE CUISINE: An Amazing Gastronomic Experience!
Georgian food features flavors from Greece and the Mediterranean, as well as influences from Turkey and Persia, which is now Iran. I have featured only three of my favorite Georgian meals in this article.
Khinkali (Georgian Dumplings) are beautifully twisted knobs of dough and are typically stuffed with meat and spices, then served boiled or steamed. The trick is to peel off the very top of the dumpling while holding it in your hand, then take a bite, savoring the spiced flavors of the meat and juices inside.
Khachapuri is a delicious cheese-filled dish and one of the most popular around the world. Recognized as the national dish, Khachapuri is inscribed on the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Georgia. There are many variations of this cheese-filled pastry, unique to different regions of Georgia. One of the most popular Khachapuri comes from the seaside region of Adjara. Adjarian Khachapuri is dough-shaped like a boat, filled with delicious Georgian cheese, egg yolks, and butter. This is one of my favorite meals in Batumi.
Lobio is a popular dish made with kidney beans and is usually eaten with Mchadi (Georgian cornbread) and marinaded vegetables. The Georgian word “lobio” means “beans”. There are several varieties of this dish, including green lobio which is made with green beans and lima beans. Lobio is truly wonderful comfort food.
Batumi's Historical Sites
Situated on the Black Sea, Batumi has a beautiful city with many things to see and do. The city is rich in history, welcoming international travelers. As an experienced traveler, I have come to know that walking is the best way to feel a city and immerse one's self in the culture. Deciding to make Batumi my new home, on my daily walking adventures, I have stumbled across some extraordinary attractions.
6 May Park
Construction of the park began in 1881 when the Prussian gardener Resler was hired to design a garden. In 1888 the Russian Emperor Alexander III visited Batumi with his family and liked what the gardener had done. Alexander decided to plant some Magnolia trees. To honor this event, the park was named Alexander Garden. In 1932 the garden was reconstructed as a cultural and recreational park. In 1933, it became a park for kids, and then later a pioneers’ camp. The park was renamed in 2006 to 6 May Park.
The park now contains children’s rides, an oval lake, a Dolphinarium, a Zoo, and an Aquarium. Greek-style colonnades were added to the main entrance in the 1930s. and a statue added later to honor the first Ajarian female pilot Fadiko Gogitidze, who heroically died in World War II at the age of 24.
The lake is in the very center of the park. Its name, Nuri Geli, is connected to a tragic story. According to legend, a baby boy named Nuri fell into the lake and drowned. The mother would visit the lake every day and call out to her baby, “Nuri geli” – Nuri, I am waiting for you. The park is one of my favorite places to grab a coffee and just sit and relax. Benches are scattered throughout the park, along with wide walkways lined with trees. It is truly a serene environment and the perfect place to take a stroll.
Ali & Nino
This sculpture was originally made for the Venice biennial. It measures 8 meters high and moves slowly where the couple, Ali and Nino pass through each other. It was created by Tamar Kvesitadze is an artist and sculptor. The sequence repeats every 10 minutes. It represents a sense of impermanence. The idea for the sculpture evolved through the novel written by Kurban Said. It is a tragic love story of Azerbaijan Muslim, Ali Shirvashir, and Georgian Christian, Nino Kipiani during World War I. Events during the First World War represent a symbol of love, despite nationality or religious beliefs. It was constructed in 2010.
The Alphabet Tower is a 430-foot-high tower symbolizing the uniqueness of the Georgian alphabet. Two helix bands rise up the tower holding 33 letters of the Georgian alphabet, each letter 13 feet in length and made of aluminum. The top floor has a rotating panoramic restaurant, an open terrace, and an observatory. The restaurant rotates 360 degrees and allows guests spectacular views of Batumi for an hour. The tower was built in 2011 by a Spanish company, CMD Ingenieros and the architect was Alberto Domingo Cabo.
Batumi Fish Market
The Batumi Fish Market is in Adjara on the Black Sea in an industrial area just outside of town. The first time I went I was overwhelmed by the plethora of seafood varieties. There is everything from mussels and crabs to sea bass and caviar. Once you make your choice, you walk next door to the restaurant where they will prepare your meal just the way you like it. I ate grilled salmon and octopus. I was amazed at how perfectly prepared it was. This is a “must-visit” for all of you who are fish and seafood lovers!
During the summer months, it can get a bit noisy. Batumi has a decent nightlife where
hotels/casinos feature live music, along with clubs that feature techno music. There are the occasional techno shows that can go on until the wee hours of the morning. I noticed that many Turks come to Batumi in the summer with their families to enjoy the beaches here on the Black Sea. Gambling is illegal in Turkey, so many Turks enjoy the opportunity to test their luck at the gaming tables. Family life is part of the culture and it’s not uncommon to see families strolling along the streets both day and night.
Daily Life for an Ex-Pat in Batumi
My home is about fifty yards from the entrance to 6 May Park, in Old Batumi. I consider this to be one of the most desirable locations in all of Batumi. Everything I need is within a 10-minute walk. One of my first impressions of Batumi was how clean the city is. Refuse is picked up on a daily basis. The cobblestone streets in the area are spotless. The pedestrian walkways are wide and in very good condition.
Although Batumi is a city, it has the feel of several small villages.
There are local shopping districts with boutique-type shops, and there is a shopping mall that contains brand-name stores. Street food is abundant, and there are plenty of restaurants serving both traditional foods along with some western and Mediterranean food. There are many choices when I am in the mood for a cheeseburger and fries, pizza, or a gyro. Many streets have open vegetable and fruit markets. Coffee shops are plentiful along with supermarkets.
Batumi has an abundance of green spaces. There are always places to find shade during the hottest time of the day. I like the fact that there are street vendors on most of the main boulevards selling beer, ice cream, coffee, water, etc. It is also fun to stop in one of the many bakeries for a coffee and pastry.
My Final Thoughts: Batumi Has So Much to Offer!
If you are planning a trip to Batumi, you will not be disappointed. There is something for everyone here. Whether it’s a walk along the Black Sea, visiting markets, or placing a bet at a gaming table, you will enjoy all that this city has to offer. I have only highlighted a few of the sites in this article. There are so many wonderful things to discover in Batumi, from enjoying walks through older neighborhoods to being mesmerized by some of the newer, modern architecture. Happy traveling!
Mario D'Artagnan Bio
Hello everyone! My name is Mario D’Artagnan, and I am an American Expat living in the country of Georgia. My travel experiences began when I was 18 years old and assigned to the U.S Air Force 6931 st Intelligence Group in Heraklion, Crete, Greece, where I lived for three years. From that very first day in Greece, I just knew it would be the beginning of many travel experiences.
Most of the countries I’ve visited or lived in are in Europe, including two years in Albania. However, with restrictions on how long one can stay in a specific country, this became a challenge. Georgia had always been on the list of places to live full-time since Americans can stay for 365 days on a passport. Considering the cost of living, proximity to other countries, culture, and cuisine, Georgia was an easy decision.
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© 2022 Dee Nicolou Serkin