Batumi 1: Break of Day
The train chugged, banged, and hammered through the night as I sat near the window and watched the lights and some obscure buildings whiz by. My colleague, Amiko, silently chatted with the two elderly men occupying the other beds of the 4-bed cabin. They burst into controlled laughter every once in a while as a punch line was pulled in a Georgian comedy show being flashed on the TV screen near the ceiling of the cabin. Then, when there was nothing else but darkness outside the window and the comedy show had signed off, I slowly stretched my tiring body over the bottom bed. The elderly men and Amiko crawled into their own beds as well. Then, gradually, the banging sound faded.
The night train left the Central Station in Georgia’s capital city of Tbilisi just a few minutes before midnight. Although the station itself, having seen an ambitious renovation in 2010, was quite new and comfortable; the trains were a much simpler affair. The Georgian Railway is a vital artery linking the Black Sea with the Caspian Sea and sat on the shortest route between Europe and Central Asia. It has been in operation since mid-1800’s and most of its tracks and train cars were almost just as old. But I didn’t mind. I was told that there were better though more expensive cabins but we settled for two tickets in a 4-bed cabin.
I got startled from time to time by the occasional pounding on the tracks but nevertheless slept through the 7-hour trip. When I woke up, it was almost bright outside the train. Many passengers, including Amiko, were already up and about, chatting in the hallway or watching passing scenes through the window. And then I noticed something blue in the horizon. It was not the sky; it was the Black Sea. We have arrived in Batumi.
A Glorious Morning
It was around 7:00 am when we got out of the train to a cold gust of wind. I quickly snapped a few photos of the train station then, feeling cold, we hurriedly hailed a taxi. The city center was around 10 minutes’ drive from the train station. Once we found the small but comfortable hotel we have arranged while we were in Tbilisi, I immediately asked for coffee, quickly took a hot shower, and then surveyed the surroundings from the 3rd floor balcony of the hotel. It was still foggy but the sun started to glisten behind the fog. A good sign. It was late March and the weather was still cold. But the forecast for this particular weekend was good and the sun was cooperating.
It was time to explore the city.
- The Trump Tower and Other Rising Structures in Batumi (filipinofestival.wordpress.com)
- Holy Khinkali! (travellingartist.wordpress.com)
- Oh no, another teaser! (travellingartist.wordpress.com)