Batumi: Georgia on the Black Sea

The skyscraper housing the new Georgian-American IT University, visible behind low-rise Soviet-era apartments; the Radisson Blu is visible at right.

The skyscraper housing the new Georgian-American IT University, visible behind low-rise Soviet-era apartments; the Radisson Blu is visible at right.

There is a new ultra-modern skyscraper near the beach, housing the Georgian-American IT University, which opened last September and is meant to train engineers and IT specialists. It aims to partner with a U.S. university. It can be seen from so many places — and is in many of my photos. It has a Ferris wheel quite high up at one corner, but I have no idea if it is really used for rides.

In addition, we learned later, the city is soon to have its own Trump Tower, a 47-story apartment complex on the beach, funded in part by Donald.

I took a hike to get a good look at a number of amusing new restaurants I had seen from a car window.
One was a slender red and white tower that our guide described as “a place to drink beer.” Another had a windmill at one end and housed a disco, while a small building resembling a Greek temple was a restaurant.
Then, there was the White Restaurant with a facade designed to look like an upside down White House. Even the open-sided ground floor dining area is designed to appear upside down, with an upturned staircase at one end

An ultra-modern restaurant on the Black Sea in Batumi, Georgia.

An ultra-modern restaurant on the Black Sea in Batumi, Georgia.

and a ceiling that looks like a floor with a Christmas tree and other things hanging from it.

The 19th century St. Nikolas Church in Batumi, Georgia.

The 19th century St. Nikolas Church in Batumi, Georgia.

On a hot afternoon, returning to the historic center required a taxi.

I wanted to revisit the Piazza for more photos, so I named my destination by showing the driver the place on my map. At the destination, he wrote down a price that was totally illegible.

I waved a 20-lari note (about $12). He shook his head no, then took the bill and returned a 10 to me. After the transaction, we both laughed. He did not have many teeth.

The interior of the Megrul-Lazuri, a restaurant in Batumi, Georgia, that offers some features of a museum, as well.

The interior of the Megrul-Lazuri, a restaurant in Batumi, Georgia, that offers some features of a museum, as well.

We had a dinner at Megrul-Lazuri, a restaurant that also describes itself as a museum, showing off a traditional local house (new construction or not, I don’t know) and done up with lots of nice brickwork, vaulted ceilings, old or old-looking furnishings and a pleasant courtyard.

As with most of our Georgian meals, the food was delicious and, while Georgian wine can be too sweet for my taste, we also had good dry Georgian wine here.

For a final point of information, New York-based Panorama Travel sponsored this trip for travel agents and journalists. Georgian-born Vera Pearson Sagareishvili (vpearson@panoramatravel.com), Panorama’s managing director of corporate accounts, accompanied our group. Not surprisingly, one of her specialties is planning travel to Georgia.

This article and its photos are by Nadine Godwin, the author of Travia: The Ultimate Book of Travel Trivia, which was published by The Intrepid Traveler.

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