Friday, July 22, 2011

Batumi, Georgia.

After visiting Turkey's Black sea region I traveled to Batumi, the first major city in The Republic of Georgia after the Turkish border. It is actually in an autonomous republic of Georgia called Adjara. The city is Georgia's resort capital and back in the heyday of the Soviet Union was a top destination. While the city is less popular than it once was, it's still a prime destination of local beachgoers from the region. Like much of the rest of Georgia's major cities, the city has a feeling of decaying grandeur. Without proper funding, the once-luxurious neoclassical architecture is now sagging in a way that might appeal to a visitor who finds beauty in urban\industrial decay. To a local resident, however, this ubiquitous sight may serve as a daily reminder of what has been lost with the fall of the Soviet Union. This is a sense that was even more present in Tbilisi, but also noticeable in Batumi. While many of the buildings are derelict and abandoned, every element of infrastructure in Batumi, and  in Georgia in general is under construction.

Batumi's boardwalk, which is the epicenter of activity in the city, is very much alive and reminded me of nicer version the Brighton Beach Boardwalk in Brooklyn. In fact, visiting Batumi and seeing its boardwalk culture gave me great perspective on Brighton Beach, home to many elderly Russians many of whom  surely spent their childhoods in Batumi. The highlight of my time in Batumi was seeing the city's botanical gardens, which are far grander impressive than any similar I've been. There is a huge collection of foreign plants from Japan to the Himalayas, and the complex had a lot of character and cool places to explore.   

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