I have travelled to a lot of places in the world (inlcuding some still existing dictatorships such as Myanmar/Burma) and must say, I rarely saw so many run-down buildings as in Georgia. Coming after Turkey, I was expecting some development but I was completely wrong, it is a step back in time.
It feels like someone switched the time off for c.60 years and since then nothing has happened to anything in the country, be it roads, buildings, parks, anything.
Was I influenced by the weather (grey and sometimes rain), maybe, but still, I am sad as the houses actually look like they had a great moment of glory in their past, just that no-one cared or had the finances to restore them. A sad story really.
Before leaving the hotel in Batumi yesterday morning, I asked the receptionist which road to take and she told me, all towns in Georgia are historic...I don't think she ever travelled outside Georgia as we crossed the entire country and were only faced with desolate ruins of an ancient country.
Also, it is amazing to see that nearly all cars here are old cars from Germany! It is the dump of Germany and the country feels a bit like a dump. I thought of the story of a car:
Hi! I'm a Merc. My full name is Mercedes Benz 1986, 230E. My first owner was a German and he was so proud of me that he showed me off to everybody in town. I lived in the nice city of Stuttgart and travelled all along the Autobahn safely with my owner. After 100,000km my owner decided I was too old for him and he sadly sold me or exchanged me for a newer me...such a mistake, he didn't know I have a second life. I was sold and imported to Georgia where I am now enjoying my second life! I had 5 other owners now, I just received my 3 engine after just 450,000km and don't run on original parts anymore. I am a bit leaky and stink now BUT my owner is happy, I am a Merc and he still shows me off to everybody in town...and by the way I like his way of driving.
About the driving habits and the roads....we left the hotel and they said: take the motorway and you'll be in 4 hours in Tbilisi as the road we wanted to take would be closed because of snow. We quickly discovered that the motorway is a single lane, two-way street which would be categorised as a small country road in our countries BUT with plenty of trucks, potholes as big as a wheel, dogs chasing you barking, children playing football, cows crossing the road (I kid you not, see the picture below!) and people driving as if they were invincible and indeed at the speed of the Autobahn. Overtaking a car that is overtaking another one when a big truck comes at full speed in front of you, no problemo. If it doesn't fit, they just want to push you (the guy being overtaken) out of the road. Man I love my BMer with plenty of braking and Horse Power to be able to manage these guys...and please let's do all this in 1970 Ladas at 120km/h.
We are so impressed by the cars here that we decided to start a competition to the car in the worse condition during our trip...we already have 3 contenders but we unfortunately started the competition after we crossed a crashed Merc where the entire front part was destroyed and hanging out but the guy was still driving normally and the police didn't care...see the photo album CARS.
Ok, we managed to reach Mtshketa (10km outside of Tblisi) and there our view of Georgia changed a bit. It is the old capital and has some nice restored churches. We had to do 12km on a normal road (i.e. normal road here = worse track ever in our latitudes) and it took us 45mins in first gear and worrying that we would fall every meter, but the sight of an old monastery next to mountains was worth it. The interior of the Georgian churches are astonishing, judge for yourself
We then headed down to Tblisi and again, our view changed a bit. The city is bustling and there are some very nice buildings but amidst all these old charming crumbling palaces...so sad.
About the people? Clearly they lack the Muslim kindness to travelers and the first reaction when you stop to ask your way, people escape and are afraid, so different to the usual crowd we would attract in Turkey. But we met some very nice guys, in particular in Mtshketa where we stayed last night.
About the economy? What do they do to earn their money?! Along all the road accross the country we only saw 2 old manufacturing sites. But these were GRAND soviet sites and SO BIG, unbelievable...but in a roting condition...and only 1 of the two seemed operational...so only agriculture? Dunno
I am sorry for all the Georgians who are reading this, but tell me where to go to see the beauty of your country and I will change my mind as for now my impression is it will not take you a few years, but a few decades to sort out the mess your country is in.
Pictures below and in the albums
(Bread making in Batumi)
(Steet in Batumi)(Kutaisi, old soviet like town...no particular interest)
(Our stop on the motorway)
(Cow crossing the motorway)
(Inside the main church in Mtskheta)
(Outside of Mtskheta)
(The road we took to get to the monastery outside Mtskheta)(Tblisi)