Primož Jakopin

A Brief Visit to Georgia and Abkhazia, From Batumi to Gagra
Sleeping Beauty under the Arabika

April 23 - 29, 2017, 96 pictures

          Most images are approximately 683 x 1024 pixels in size, numbers in front of picture descriptions are serial numbers of the original photo files.
          Pictures photo and copyright (c) Primož Jakopin 2017.

Introductory Remarks

          The main objective of this voyage was to explore the possibility of reaching the karst plateau in the Arabika massif, known for quite a few very deep caves. It was meant to last 14 days but had to be cut in half for several reasons, most notably for the cold weather with snow at much lower altitudes than anticipated (August would be a far more appropriate month for the task) and for the limited means of moving around in the area, especially inconvenient if you are not travelling light. In Gagra the knowledge of the deep cave existence on Arabika is from TV reports, only other data from the travel agents was that there were people in the past who got lost in the mountain while searching for the caves. The possibility to rent a car in Abkhazia or at least to use a car, rented in Georgia or Russia, would be an immense asset - as would be an International Airport in Sukhum.*
          Otherwise the memories from the trip are highly positive, the hospitality of the people in Georgia and Abkhazia is justly proverbial, knowledge of Russian which the writer of these lines was never able to practice since middle school came in very handy all the way.
          Pictures in this report were taken with the intent to show the good side of the nature and places which meet the eye of the visitor, sad consequences of the unfortunate events at the turn of the millenium were largely avoided.


Additional resource

          There is a wealth on resources on Georgia, both on Internet and in printed form, less so for Abkhazia. The most recommended is a tiny book in Russian, now in its third edition:
Роман Устинов: Абхазия. Практический путеводитель. Издательство «Раменская типография», Раменское, 2015. 144 стр.
(Roman Ustinov: Abkhazia. Practical Guidebook. Published by Ramenskaja tipografija, Ramenskoe, 2015, 144 pp.)


Cameras Used


35301. The departure hurry left the standard instrument, an SLR camera, behind - between the front seats of the author's car as depicted here. So all the following pictures were taken either by the cell phone (not of some particular quality) or by his movie camera in photography mode.



Istanbul Airport, April 23


35164. Night view of the empty corridor on the first floor of the airport building



From Istanbul to Batumi


35165. View of the cloud cover above the Black Sea from the airplane window



From Batumi to Zugdidi


35166. View towards the front of the maršrutka minibus interior from the back seat, during the Batumi - Zugdidi trip. On the large screen rolls a video that accompanies one of the popular Russian disco songs during the ride. The songs were nice and romantic albeit played a bit too loud.



Zugdidi, My Moon Hostel, Rustaveli Street


35168. A large portrait, over 1 m2 painting on the wall of the first floor kitchen / hallway that belongs to the violet apartment



Enguri River Bridge at Zugdidi, April 24


35171. The bridge, built from 1945 to 1948, was recently repaved and repainted - view west.



35173. The bridge is 800 m long though the river is not so wide. Large portions of the terrain is arable land, flooded only occasionally.



35172. View west from the middle of the bridge



35174. The actual river flows below the western end of the bridge - view downstream. The river was brown after heavy rains in recent days.



35175. View upstream.



Gal, Bus Station Square


35176. His shadow on the pavement, an accidental shot



35177. At the side of the square there is a small park, now abandoned and with a ruined statue. Here a simple lunch was prepared: potatoes and an eggplant, on a gas cooker (190 g gas cartridges are available in Batumi in just one single (hardware) store - on Pushkin street). There was no time to eat it, however, and it was consumed in Sukhum, on the waterfront.



Sukhum, April 25


35180. Abkhazian State Philharmonic building, recently renovated, view from the street



35181. Central government building, burnt and damaged from shelling during the war in 1992, covered with handsome travertine-like stone plates, still dominates the Sukhum skyline.



35182. Park of Freedom, to the south, in the direction of the sea, with black stone plates (in the distance) where the names of ~ 1.700 Abkhazians that died in the 1992/1993 war, are engraved.



35183. Historical and state symbols of Abkhazia, from the book А. В. Аргун: Свод карт Абхазии (от античности до наших дней). ННИКЗ «Анакопия», Новый Афон, 2012.



35186. Consular Service at Saharova street 33, where Abkhazian visa is obtained. It costed 800 rubles for two.



35187. A guide in the National Museum of Military Glory and a visitor



35189. There are many parks in Sukhum, with palms of all sizes



Sukhum, April 26


35194. Kakha Tsicoliya / Каха Циколия and his guest. Kakha is fluent in four languages: Mingrelian, Georgian, Abkhazian and Russian.



From Sukhum to Gagra


35195. View of the bus from the back seat. The two girls on the left were Russian but they often spoke in English, probably in the same manner as it was fashionable to speak French in Tolstoy times.





35197. The pebble coast, the sea and the sky towards the afternoon sun



35198. View west northwest with the beach and the Arabika mountain ridge descending into the sea towards the Psou river valley on the other side of the first cape.



35208. Wide view of the sunset at sea



Gagra, April 27


35210. Bus station from the other side of the street





35211. Passengers disembarking from maršrutka after it arrived from Gagra



Enguri River Bridge at Zugdidi


35212. Long telephoto view of the Caucasus mountain range to the northeast of the bridge ...



35214. ... and a wide view



35213. Enguri river, view upstream. The water cleared completely in the past three days.



35215. Downstream view



35216. A pool in the plain north of the bridge



35217. Eastern entrance of the bridge with Andrea and Sara from Brescia in front



35218. A monument that could be titled: Nonsense of War on the southern side of the eastern access to the bridge.



35219. A cart that takes passengers with heavy luggage or in bad weather across the bridge.





35220. Andrea and Sara during a selfie in the (really huge) Zugdidi open market



35221. View down one of the many corridors in the covered part of the market



From Zugdidi to Batumi


35222. Andrea and Sara in the front seats of their spacious rented car



35223. View of Batumi from the roadside, late afternoon



Batumi, Night Scenes


35226. View south at the western end of the Baratashvili street



35227. A blue illuminated building nearby



Batumi, April 28


35236. Climbing wisteria (glicinija in Slovenian) has nearly completely overgrown its cedar support - a scene on the Baratashvili street.



35237. Obelisk in the European square, with the statue of Medea holding the golden fleece on top, by Davit Khmaladze



35228. Relief on the western side of the obelisk ...



35229. ... southern ...



35230. ... eastern ...



35232. ... and northern side.



35233. View north with the pebble beach, the sea and the mountains from the Love bridge above the main Batumi pier on the western cape



35241. Panoramic view of Black Sea, from the bridge



35243. Snack scene on the beach



35242. Mid-morning snack: bread, (too) salted fresh cheese, garlic, Cornelian cherry jam, aronia juice



35234. Lithuanian boat is approaching the port of Batumi.



35245. Pine grove a bit inland from the coast



35239. Blooming freshly planted trees on the Batumi waterfront promenade



35246. Northern half of the Batumi Collonades



35247. Batumi Summer Theater wooden facade, main entrance ...



35248. ... and rear view of the building



35249. Batumi waterfront promenade, view south. It was constructed in 1881.



35250. Hotel Sheraton tower, view from the north



35240. Statue in the park of the Adjara State Museum of Art, could be titled A couple. A lady guide in the museum told us that a very beautiful street in Tbilisi is named after Ljubljana. The following works of art are also all from this museum.



35251. Sunflowers. Vano Abuladze (1959), mixed media, 180 x 80 cm, 2014



35253. New Times. Oleg Boreiko (1957), oil on canvas, 95 x 135 cm, 1990. An excellent herald of the tumultuous years ahead.



35255. Mothers. Nana Meskhidze (1936 - 1997), oil on canvas, 110 x 120 cm, 1968



35258. Steam Engine. Edmond Kalandadze (1923 - 2014), oil on canvas, 100 x 140 cm, 1970



35260. Letter. Givi Narmania (1938), oil on canvas, 120 x 105 cm, 1978



35262. Batumi synagogue, as seen from the street ...



35261. ... and a view of the inside. It was built in 1904.



35244. Batumi Piazza Square tower, view from the street. Venetian style cultural and entertainment venue was built in 2009.



35263. Piazza tower, view from the square



35266. Golden Venus statue in front of the Piazza casino, on its own ...



35265. ... and as a backdrop for the three ladies, members of a tourist group from the country's big neighbour to the south



35267. Ceiling of one of the open cafés



35276. One of the restaurants in the square is named after a popular movie Mimino ...



35275. ... and has undertitled scenes from the movie as an inside decor.



35270. Church of St. Nicholas



35274. Notes for the visitors at the church entrance



35272. Church inside



35278. Inside of the Batumi mosque



35280. Batumi Cathedral of the Mother of God, view from the southwest



35281. Church inside



35282. Stained glass window to the left of the entrance ...



35283. ... and to the right, before the altar



35284. The four main foreign currencies and their exchange rates to Georgian lari



35285. View down the nave towards the altar of the Cathedral of Christ the Holy Savior (modern catholic church), Gamsakhurdia street



35286. Tongue and groove bathroom wall cover plate with 1 lari for measure (25 mm diameter)



35287. Matsoni, the only unsweetened and unsalted yogurt available, from Batumi to Gagra



Batumi, April 29


35289. It was still very cold during the night and this electric heater kept us warm.



35291. It is still possible to find an iron without vapour in Georgia and this one was on the table in the bedroom.



35292. Airline companies above one of the three ticket offices - the first belongs to Turkish Airlines, the other two are of general service.



35293. The plane which will take us to Istanbul.



From Batumi to Istanbul


35294. View of the Black Sea and the Anatolian coast from the plane window



Istanbul Airport


35295. The Airport is the Turkish Airlines home base.



35296. Passengers in the main hall of the (first floor) of the airport building



35297. Three ladies, could be from the Sub-Saharan Africa



From Istanbul to Ljubljana


35299. Plane window on the southern side of the plane



35300. A cloud formation above Croatia



35307. Portrait with a Georgian sheepskin hat



*Sukhum is the spelling of the Abkhazian capital name as used in the official English language publications.

  Radošca / Radoshitza Cave, Day 36, April 19      Radošca / Radoshitza Cave, Day 38, May 3  

This page, text and photos by Primož Jakopin; send inquiries and comments to primoz jakopin guest arnes si (insert dots and at sign as appropriate). Page initiated on May 1, 2017; date of last change: May 7.