Tag: Hiking

Beautiful Borjomi

After five days of rain and wet weather, the sun was shining when I left Kutaisi for Borjomi. What a shame! I had a backpack full of dirty clothes, which would not have dried in the humidity and wet weather of Kutaisi. I had booked a guesthouse in Borjomi, but when I arrived I was not impressed with the store -room the old lady wanted to put me into. I thanked her, and walked on. Higher onto the hill were more and more guesthouses, although, most catering for two and more people! One person was NOT welcome! I had not encountered this before, so it surprised me.

Then I walked by a lovely house with gladioli in planter boxes, making me think of Dame Edna Average! A sign from above! Temo, the young owner, cleaned out his room, put clean sheets on his bed, and voila, my room was ready! First things first! Washing! Doing domestic chores is un -avoidable, although I do as little of it as possible. I mainly do hand washing on a daily basis, but my travel pants and fleece jacket were long overdue for a proper washing machine wash!

Afterwards I sat on the balcony and met Salome, a young Georgian film maker, who just a week ago opened the first night club in Borjomi. I would have loved to have seen some of her films and visit the night club, but alas, the old body gives up around nine at night! Bummer!
The first explorations were to visit the Romanov Palace, about three kilometres out of town. The weather was pleasant, and the walk easy. Along the river with wonderful views it was not long before I found the Palace! It was not my lucky day! It was closed! I met the first rude person in Georgia, a young guard who was too busy texting, probably his girlfriend, to tell me if it was only closed on Wednesdays or what. Could also be that he spoke no English it was hard to tell as he just grunted ” closed” before going on with his important task.

Next door was a luxury hotel, and I decided, since I walked all this way to have a sticky beak into how the rich people live! It was unbelievably beautiful! I pretended that I was interested in a major overhaul, eg. Facials, massages etc. I received the price list, didn’t choke, kept a poker face and asked if I could see the facilities! The rooms were U$155 per night, this included breakfast and free use of every thing on offer! The Hamman was stunning, the swimming pool amazing, but not warm enough for my liking! The young girl showing me around was very friendly, she left me when I asked to go yo the toilet. Afterwards I wandered around on my own, found a lovely quiet spot and used their excellent wifi to update all my homework and social media. Pleasant, very pleasant!

I took a marshrutka back into town, bought some groceries and visited the local museum. There the young girl spoke excellent English and she was able to explain the the Palace will be closed indefinitely. The very rich owners of the hotel, Arabs I believe, bought the property six years ago, and the palace was on their property! Now they kept it closed to the public. The museum was pleasant, in a hundred year old building, with amazing staircases and ceilings.

The next day I planned to visit the famous mineral baths. Borjomi is famous for its mineral water. I quit like it despite the slightly salty/ sour taste. As my maps.me was not working, for some reason it refuses to tell me where I am, unless I have wifi, I was lost. I asked the young woman at the cafe where to go and she sort of waved her hands in a general direction, indicating that I should go up the mountain. Great! All I needed was another five kilometre walk up a mountain. My legs had not yet recovered from the last ones I visited! But, hey, I walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, so what is another five or ten kilometres up a hill!? So I started walking, and walking, it was hot, I was sweating like a pig and just contemplating if I really needed to see these mineral baths, when a car stopped and offered me a lift.

Not one to look a given horse in the mouth, I accepted gracefully. It was a young Azarbijan family, going to Bakuriani. Amin, the husband, was intrigued by the fact that the mineral baths were so closed by and his young family decided to join me. This was marvellous, as the path down had been washed away by the heavy rains of the last week. His wonderful wife Nara, and young Ismail ( five years old) enjoyed the slippery slide down the path.

Ismail and I went into the bath, the water was pleasantly warm, but filthy and overcrowded. I had to sit in the sun to dry out my bathers, and the three of us discussed how we could get back to the car! It was impossible for me to climb up the muddy slopes, when Nara asked an old woman how she got up here, and was shown a broad path that led all the way down to the mineral park! Oops! That was where I was supposed to take! It was agreed that Amin would climb the path back to fetch the car and meet us down at the park entrance. The way down was much easier, but also three times as long!

Borjomi mineral water park occupies a narrow, wooded valley and is a lovely place to go for a stroll. This was where the original mineral water was discovered and named Yekaterinsky Spring after the governor’s daughter who was cured here. The park itself dates from 1850. Warm mineral water flows from taps in the magnificent pavilion. There are many attractions , a funfair attractions, cinema and a cable car to take you up to the Ferris wheel on top of the mountain. Ismail’s eyes couldn’t take it all in, but he was keen to get back and find his father.

We finally arrived and I was invited to come to Bakuriani with them. Bakuriani was about thirty kilometres away and is a winter skiing town. There was very little to do or see, although the drive there was stunning. I was invited to lunch and was not allowed to pay a penny. What a wonderful day this was. I regret not taking a photo of the family. We were so busy chatting away, that it didn’t occur to any of us. Little Ismail was so tired that he slept all the way back. The rains had started again and Amin dropped me off all the way back to my guest house. Lots of promises to visit the next time I come this way, in Baku, Azerbijan, they went back to their hotel. Such a wonderful young family, full of love and laughter, it was great meeting them.

When I arrived back in my room, and collapsed of total exhaustion, I received a message, Filip and Ewa had arrived, would I meet them for a drink and a chat! After a lot of back and forward messaging, I walked to the restaurant, and had a pleasant couple of hours. When you re-meet people while travelling, it is like a meeting of kindred’ souls. It was just wonderful. Tomorrow Akhaltsikhe

Day 27, Camino de Santiago,

DAY TWENTY SEVEN, 27 May 2015,
started @ 7.00am till 11.30 am~14.7 kilometres

It was a fabulous day, with a slow start! Lucia is a fiddler! It means she takes forever to get ready! Hm. I might have to start walking before she is ready, other wise this will drive me crazy.
The weather was great, although quite cold and very windy. We walked through fields and fields of poppies today. Stunning.

I had not booked an accommodation at all, it does not seem to worry me anymore. But as we walked along Lucia kept asking if it would be all right. I kept re assuring her that there would be a bed for sure in San Bol!

When we finally saw the first and only house I was rather concerned, there was NO church! Only one house! Oops! What was this? A small hamlet with only an Albergue. Shit, I worried myself stupid wishing and hoping there would be beds available! And of course there were! The Albergue had ten beds available and we had number two and three! There were showers but not very hot! I bought something to eat and a bottle of wine and we all had an impromptu picnic in the garden surrounded by poppies.

There was a Fuente with ice cold water that had healing qualities, I stuck my feet under and worked out that your feet would be frozen so they felt like they were healed!
I had a long afternoon nap, with my foot up as it was still painful and swollen. Slowly the Albergue filled up. I had not too much interest in talking to other pilgrims as the conversation is constantly the same; where did you start? How many kilometres do you do a day? What? A rest day? Oh, then you are NOT a true pilgrim! It is this “I am holier than thou” attitude that pisses me right off. Lucia however had not yet many other pilgrims and she thrived in hearing their stories. Some were very funny. Especially the American woman, who encountered this crazy French man. Apparently she told the story quite funnily and I could hear everything what was being said. So didn’t really miss out much! Although I would have rather slept to be honest!

That evening we all had a communal dinner, as there was no where else to eat or to go. The French were very funny, and ended up introducing themselves to us all. It was really lovely and in the end there were twelve pilgrims. Two of the Frenchmen were put upstairs in the attic, where our beds were. One of them was the worst snorer I had come across. Although up to now I have not yet come across anybody as bad as Pete was! In the middle of the night I just woke him up told him in sign language that he was snoring and to turn around. He did and a peaceful night was had by all!
Today’s lesson: thought is power
Today’s gift: the beautiful poppies every where and finches singing

Day 23, Camino de Santiago

23 May 2015, Burgos, Rest day today!

Due to lots of problems with my swollen foot, I decided to have a day off completely! After last night’s stay in a wonderful hotel, it was time to go to the local Albergue Municipal. There was a long line of waiting people after us! People were getting stroppy and aggressive in case somebody would “push” in! It was the BIG night a year La noche Blanca! All the private hotels and hostels were booked full! A big shame was that the Albergue closed in the evenings at ten o’clock while the party would start at eleven o’clock! No exception was made! A big shame because now all peregrinos are NOT spending their money in this city! Very inflexible! ONE BIG night a year and no exceptions, may be leave the doors open till six in the morning or something like that.

The city of Burgos itself is stunningly beautiful. There is a BIG cathedral, I believe one of the top four in the country. La Sagrada, in Barcelona, Leon’s big cathedral and the cathedral in Santiago de Compostella. I found the cathedral of Burgos much better than all, except La Family in Barcelona. The museum was absolutely fabulous and I enjoyed spending time in it. There was a look out as well, which was up a hill, so I decided not to bother, same with the castle, anything up hill I don’t want to do in my spare time!

In the little cafe opposite the Hostal they made lovely tapas and sangria. As my foot was still terribly swollen and painful I decided not to do too much walking. But rest and one of these days find somebody who can tell me about feet, pain and muscles!

In the evening I went on the tourist train and saw the city, which is full of art, every corner you turn there is a statue or something interesting to see!

Today’s lesson: you can’t have everything you want!
Today’s gift: Lovely sangria and party with the local people in the little cafe

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