September 17: Katumi, Georgia
9:07. Today we will drive about 150 km to the Prometheus Caves before stopping for the night in Batumi.
9:38. We pull into Khomuli, a scrappy looking industrial town with a vast and seemingly abandoned rail yard. The collection of old train cars and steam era locomotives could fill a dozen museums.
11:00. The Prometheus Caves are much better than I had expected. We walk through about 1.5 km of well lit caves, and that’s just a tiny portion of the vast series of inter-connected caves that weren’t discovered until the 1980s.
11:47. We pass a coffee shop selling Starbucks coffee. Yesterday I noticed a grocery store selling Starbucks beans. I shouldn’t be as excited about this as I am. After all, the Turks know a thing or two about making good, strong coffee.
14:00. At one time more than 1/5th of world’s oil came from the area between Batumi and Baku. Tonight we will stay in the Black Sea port city of Batumi. I will spend the rest of the day and evening wandering the streets of this surprisingly cool city. We have a group dinner planned for 20:00.
17:00. Time for a pre-dinner cocktail. I order a Rum & Coke at a small and very hip looking bar called Cha Cha Time. The bartender sends a boy down the street to buy a bottle of Coke.
17:17. After the Rum & Coke it dawns on me that when one saddles up to a bar called Cha Cha Time, one should probably order a Cha Cha. I ask the bartender for a Cha Cha Mojito but he suggests a Cucumber Cha Cha instead. Good decision.
My spidey senses tell me that a dozen rainbow coloured balloons are not a coincidence in this friendly neighbourhood bar. The bartender tells me that he no longer enjoyed life in Moscow so he sold his motorcycle business, moved to Batumi, and opened a bar. He’ll give it one year before deciding if he’ll put down roots.
18:10. Three Cha Chas later and I stagger out of the bar with a warm glow. I wander the streets of Batumi for a few Hours before dinner and proceed to get all artsy with the camera. Did I tell you I’m really liking Batumi?