It wasn’t supposed to be our last day in Georgia.
We woke up to a glorious day. Mt Shkara, which had been clouded over the day before, was now clear of clouds, and the rock wall of this huge mountain seemed to block Ushguli off from the rest of the world.
At breakfast, we made the spontaneous decision to leave Ushguli that day and make straight for Batumi on the coast. We had planned to spend a last night in Mestia again, but we felt we had seen everything that Mestia had to offer. Our driver took us down to Mestia where we said goodbye to the Gabliani’s and then we continued down the mountain. It was tough going up the mountain, and it was only slightly easier going down – we were in a 4 wheel drive now and so the vehicle was less battered about by the trip, but nevertheless the going was slow. Midway down the hill I called Malchas our driver, and told him of our change in plans.
It took about six hours to get back to Zugdidi- the mountain roads are extremely slow. Malchas was there waiting for us, but he wasn’t happy – clearly our change of plans had forced him to change his plans. We continued in his car, but it was apparent that he didn’t want to go to Batumi, so he put us off at a gas station near the turnoff for Tbilisi, and we called a cab to take us to Batumi.
It was strange to be back at the humid coast – the mountains had been cool, even cold, and here we were back in the baking lowlands. As we entered Batumi, the cab driver asked where we were staying and we said we planned to find a hotel there and then. He thought it was a very bad idea – “Batumi is very full with tourists” he said. Turns out, that the whole of Georgia and much of Armenia goes to Batumi for vacation, and he was right. We tried about ten hotels and there was no room to be found anywhere. We went South to try the beachfront resort of Gonio and then to Sarp, but still had no luck.
We felt that we only had one choice left to us – to leave the country – so, we told the amazed and surprised taxi driver to take us to the border. We jumped out the cab as the heavens opened up with a downpour, and like refugees, we lined up to cross into Turkey.
Within twenty minutes, we were back in the “First World”.
PS: These days I plan great family trips to multiple destinations. Click here for more info.
(For our onward trip to Trabzon and Istanbul, see entries for Trabzon from October 2010)