After disembarking from the ferry, I headed for the centre of Batumi to grab something to eat, change some money and recharge my Georgian SIM card which I still had from the previous time. I also went for a quick swim just outside Batumi since this was my last opportunity to swim in the Black Sea. My plan for the next few days was to head towards Tbilisi for a few days, wait for Ana who was coming to meet me there for a few days and then explore together the wine region of Kakheti.
The drive from Batumi to Tbilisi was one of the most tiring ones of the whole trip. Because it was Sunday afternoon, the roads were absolutely packed with people going back to the capital and Georgian drivers are not the most patient ones. They were overtaking all the time, not caring if they couldn’t see 100 meters in front of them. It took me about 5 hours to get to Tbilisi and by the time I checked in to the hotel it was already dark and I was dead tired.
One of the reasons I needed to spend a few days in Tbilisi was because I needed to have my Iranian visa stamped onto my passport. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult (if not impossible) to get a multiple entry Iranian visa, which meant for the return trip I had to get a new visa. I already applied for it a few weeks before through a tour company in Iran and once I had the approval code, all I had to do was go to the embassy in Tbilisi and get my passport stamped. I found the embassy fairly quickly (again, thank you Google Maps) and a very friendly gentlemen told me to return the next day with a couple of passport photos and a fee receipt from the bank. The visa would be ready the day after.
I spent the next couple of days pretty much relaxing in Tbilisi, taking in the city (the previous time we were there for only one day so we didn’t explore that much), doing some photography and having quite a few relaxed coffees with a book in hand (well, it was actually the iPad).
The same day my visa was ready, Ana was also arriving as she could take a few days off for the Eid holidays. I picked her up from the airport and we left towards Georgia’s South-East which is famous for its wines. The first stop was the city of Sighnaghi, an 18th century fortified town with a massive 2.5km wall around it. It’s a peaceful place, with small cobblestone streets and small tavernas with traditional food.
The next day we drove a short distance to Telavi, the capital of the region and checked in to a simple guesthouse. The lady owner was very friendly and stayed chatting with us quite a while. She also prepared the most delicious breakfast the next day served in the middle of the forest (the house was right at the edge of the village and its garden was opening up into the forest) – the picture at the top of the post.
Telavi was another very laid back town and we spent the afternoon and evening walking around trying to find a few of the sights recommended in the guidebooks. The town has a bit of a distance signage problem – every time you saw a sign pointing towards an attraction it had some sort of distance written on it (i.e. fortress 0.5km). After walking in the recommended direction for 0.5km you would find another sign pointing in the opposite way saying 3km. Very confusing! We did find most of the things we wanted to see so all was well in the end.
From Telavi, we drove back towards Tbilisi were we spent one more evening and morning enjoying the city and meeting up with some friends who were also in town on holiday.
Unfortunately I had to say good bye to Ana one more time as I drove her to the airport and then drove to Mtskheta on the outskirts of Tbilisi to spend one last night and see this historic town. I found a small guesthouse right next to the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and managed to make it on the roof just as it was getting dark to take some photographs.
I spent the morning walking around town for a bit and around 10am I started driving towards the border with Armenia about an hour away.