It was a gloomy and cold Friday morning when, from Tbilisi Airport, we started our journey to Kutaisi (a drive of more than three hours). Although very sleepy from our early morning flight, we agreed that whoever is in charge to sit in front must stay awake until the next person’s turn. It was a long drive to the western side of the country, so we had to make sure that our tour guide is awake too. That pretty much proved to be a good system during our entire stay.
Kutaisi is one of the largest cities in Georgia and is the main city of the region of Imereti. Honestly, all I knew about this place is that nearby are caves and canyons. I barely did my research (shame!) but you know what’s good about it though? Having no expectations. Just like how we ended up on this semi-ruined bridge which totally perked us up. Lasha, our tour guide, must have noticed that we were sleeping a lot in the car and so he made a stop and led us to our first adventure.
As if it was not hard enough to balance walking on the metal railings, Lasha decided to make it harder by shaking the ropes. We were laughing trying to get our grip while he was having good fun taking awkward photos of us. Did I not tell you that he is nice?
It was a hilarious experience. That totally woke us up better than caffeine would. Great job, Lasha!
Along the road, we passed by local sellers of bread, corn, fruits and souvenir products. This particular odd-looking bread caught our attention (as we were also hungry). It is huge and looked so yummy!
We found out later that it is called, Nazuki or Georgian spicy sweet bread. It has raisins inside making it more palatable. Interestingly, this bread can only be bought in a few areas, predominantly along the highway.
Before we reached our destination, we made another stop at Chishura falls/river. It must have rained earlier as the grass pathway gave our shoes a mud bath. Nevertheless, this picture-perfect spot is Instagram worthy.
A few more minutes’ drive and we finally reached one of the region’s most visited spots, the Prometheus or Kumistavi Cave. It is located near the town of Tskhaltubo (20 km away from Kutaisi) and is the largest cave in Georgia. Entrance to the cave costs 7 GEL / 11 Dhs. Boat ride is another fee but there was no ride that day because of the high level of water inside the cave. We went with a group in an English-Russian walking tour.
If my memory serves me right, this is my first real cave experience. I was a bit worried of the 14c temperature inside but it was okay. Being underground surrounded by amazing formations of stalactites, stalagmites and stalacto-stalagmites is a brand new insight. I have not spotted bats during the entire walk, probably because of the spectacular illumination coming from the light system filled with LED lights.
The walking tour can last up to an hour and be ready to hone your imagination. The tour guide will test it for sure and will reveal amusing structures out of the cave formations.
The tour ended with us riding the bus back to the main hall. Oh and I must not forget that there was joyful dancing and singing in the bus on our way back. I immediately felt grateful being able to be with free-spirited travelers.
Where did we go next? But of course, to make our tummies happy! Yay, we were so ready for a Georgian meal.
Lasha brought us to this lovely restaurant just a few minutes away from the cave. It is called Stalactida and we can’t help but take photos of the captivating landscape and structures.
The food did not disappoint, too. Their fried pork with potatoes and onions (Ojakhuri) is to die for. That must have fueled us to order the same dish every meal during the entire trip (Cholesterol alert!).
We also tried Khachapuri, their traditional bread filled with cheese and egg. Surprisingly, it was not boat-shaped but instead, triangular.
Our cucumber and tomato salad with walnut is interestingly delicious. I am not a vegetable salad person so it had to be very good for me to praise it. You have to try Georgian lemonade too. It has a variety of flavors but Peach and Grapes are our favorites.
For a full meal in a grand restaurant, we thought that it will come expensive. Just one more to love about Georgia is that food is cheap but very delicious. We only paid around 35 GEL / 53 Dhs. for four people. That’s thrifty, isn’t it?
We also had a grand sleep in the car (haha) except for the one seated in front, on our way to Martvili Canyon. It is located in the Samegrelo region.
Entrance fee is also 7 GEL / 11 Dhs. and sightseeing can also be done by boat. Unfortunately, the weather was not ideal for a ride so we just walked around, surrounded by lush trees and plants along the concrete pathway and wooden bridges. The feeling of being very close to nature while hearing the gush of water from the falls is very calming. Just what we needed.
We were supposed to explore Okatse Canyon as well, but the heavy rainfall made it impossible for us to go. After convening hard on what to do next, we decided to just head out to Batumi as it was also getting late. It is a good thing we did, or else, we would have missed the vibrant summer vibe of Batumi.
- Photography: Cristina
- Research: Mariecris
- Tour Guide: Lasha of Tours in Georgia
- Tbilisi Free Walking Tours: Tamar
- Batumi Apartment: Rustaveli Apartment
- Tbilisi Apartment: Alicat home
#marengsingeorgia – June 23-26, 2017