There’s a gallery.
We’ve arrived to Kutaisi airport about 20:15 local time. A jolly taxi driver whos name was Jura picked us up and mentioned that he served in army in Poland, in the seventies or so. During our flight, I’ve been reading a novel by Tibor Dery. I’ve found it very entertaining.
We’ve arrived to Marco Polo hostel in Kutaisi and went to sleep with this nice feeling of already being “there”, far from home, with all those adventures waiting for us to experience them.
After a good night’s sleep our driver (Iura) picked us up. He took us to the Okatse Canyon. Views were breath-taking, esp. for someone with high anxiety…
It was the first time we had noticed that in Georgia, one can get almost anywhere by car. At the beginning of the track leading to the canyon we’d been invited to take a ride directly to the natural monument. Of course we’d got there on feet.
Next we went back to Kutaisi and had a dinner in Palaty restaurant. It was OK – they’d filled our glasses with an enormous volume of wine (which was nice) but the meat was stiff (that was far from nice).
We also visited a little bazar next to Marco Polo. They sold fruits, vegetables and lots of other stuff. Looked nice but not everything was good. Wine that we’d bought there was a huge failure – we had to throw it out…
Next day was a rather long drive from Kutaisi to Mestia. Our neighbours reserved a taxi to get to the bus station at 7:30, so we prepared to be ready immediately after them. The day before, our host called the bus station to order 2 tickets for us and gave us a piece of paper with some text in georgian and the name of the hotel, explaining that it was a reservation of 2 seeats and we needed to show it to the driver and he would take us.
The first surprise that day was that our reservation didn’t work. When we arrived to the bus station and entered the marshrutka, they told us to leave because had no tickets and they didn’t care about our paper reservation. Finally they told us in a mix of English and Russian that we need to buy tickets and get back to them. That introduced a delay and we had to take the next marshrutka which departed an hour later.
The road to Mestia was the most beautiful I’ve seen in Georgia, mostly because of the river Enguri. Some part of that river looked almost like a very long lake and had an unbelievable turquoise colour.
We arrived to Mestia about 14:00. Second surprise of that day was that there was no electricity in Mestia because of some problems they had 2 days earlier. Fortunately for us, electricity was brought back in 30 minutes.
Then we had a dinner in Mta Bar. Their tomato soup was delicious, but the main dish, made of potatoes and cheese was far from my favourites… I ate it mainly because I don’t like wasting food.
We also spent some nice time in Erti Kava, a little caffe with wide variety of coffee-brewing methods, including drip and chemex!
Got up a bit early and started our hike at 8:30 as we knew there’d be a storm in the evening but we wanted to get to Koruldi Lakes. It was challenging from the very beginnig and I agree with the opinions of this track we’d found on the internet: one has to be really fit to do this track in reasonable time. In our case, there was even less time because of the storm coming, so we didn’t even make it to the lakes themselves.
The views were wonderful: high mountains covered in forests, clouds taking off from those forests because of the rain the day before… It was worth it, even without making it to the lakes.
On our way back, a little doggy started following us and then disappeared in the forest. I’ve noticed that it happens often – homeless dogs follow tourists, perhaps hoping they’d get something to eat…
When we got back, we went for a dinner in Sunseti. There was some confusion since according to TripAdvisor there is also Sunset Cafe in Mestia. Nobody could tell us where it is and the address matched that of Sunseti, so we ended up eating in the latter. We met a group of Slovak geographers hiking around Georgia and ate together as the restaurant was quite busy at that time of day and had no free tables.
We ate a breakfast in Nino Ratiani Guesthouse and went to take a marshrutka to Ushguli. After some usual misunderstandings we departed from Mestia about 10:30. Although it was only 42km, the trip took about 2 hours because the road was in very bad condition, the final segment being just a dirt road with very steep hillsides right next to them.
After a short walk through Ushguli we started our short hike in the direction of Shkhara glacier. Unfortunately we didn’t make it because marshrutka driver told us we had to return earlier than we’d thought, having only 3 hours instead of 5.
In the evening that day we booked a room in Tbilisi, packed our stuff and prepared to leave early morning next day.
To be continued…