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Day Trips From Kutaisi – Imereti Attractions Part 2

In this episode of the Tbilisi podcast, Tom and special guest Emily Lush from share a wealth of interesting information and recommendations for anyone planning to visit the Imereti region of Georgia.

They share several alternatives to popular tourist destinations, and they also suggest exploring off-the-beaten-track locations such as Tskaltubo, Zestafoni, and Chiatura.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or curious about Georgia, this episode of the Tbilisi podcast is sure to provide plenty of valuable information and tips to make the most of your trip.


Things to do In Kutaisi - Imereti Attractions Part 2

Tom [00:00:19]:

In this second part of our double episode on Kutaisi and Imereti in West Georgia, we'll be talking about day trips and places you can go with a nice easy one day's drive back and forth from Kutaisi. So lots of different monasteries, scenic areas, wine regions that are nicely located. If you're staying in Kutaisi, you can head out and do those in one day. If you didn't listen to the first part, that was mostly just about Kutaisi City itself and a few of the closer to home attractions. So do go back and listen to that, but I think you can listen to either one as a standalone episode. Episode. Yes. Hello. Welcome to another episode of the Tbilisi podcast. This is Tom, your host from Expathub.GE and We have got another fantastic episode for you today and we are jumping into part two of our discussion of attractions in Imereti and around the city of Kutaisi. So let's get back into that interview with Emily from Wanderlush.

Emily Lush [00:01:13]:

Kutaisi is just a fabulous location for day trips. It's a really fantastic location because you're close to the Black Sea, you're close to the mountains of Svaneti or Racha. It's just so many opportunities for travel if you're interested in outdoors and hiking and that sort of thing, especially. So I'll go through some of my favorite sort of things to do around the city. There are very popular places. Like Okatse Canyon, Martvili Canyon. So a lot of tours that you see will go to these canyons and waterfalls. And these are mostly in Samegrelo region, which is west of Kutaisi. So yes, there are these popular canyons. There's also some sort of alternative canyons that you can go to that aren't set up for tourists in terms of there's no infrastructure. They're kind of more wild spaces, I guess. And you can actually swim in the water.

Tom [00:02:02]:

Martvili Really? It feels like a tourist trap now, sadly, it's such a beautiful place. Like the actual waterfalls are incredible. I'd still go there anyway even though it is a tourist trap. But yeah, it's got like gift shops and there's a big ticket center at the front and everything's, like pathways with fences and yeah, it's really touristy even though it is beautiful.

Emily Lush [00:02:22]:

Yeah. Unfortunately it's a bit of a victim of its own fame, I guess. It's also very small the area. So when you pay the ticket price, it is a little disappointing in some ways. But not many people realize that that river, of course, there are lots of other canyons and lots of other waterfalls both up and down the river. So a really nice one is called Boulder Canyon and it's upriver a little bit. So very close to Martvili, but you can swim there. There are like beautiful rocks and waterfalls, and there's a really nice hike that you can do to a waterfall called Oniore, which is kind of east from the river, this beautiful, big waterfall, which is a really nice alternative to this Kinchkha waterfall, which has kind of had the same treatment as Martvili in that. It's very touristy now, but I really recommend this other sort of alternative area for a little bit of a different experience, and you're not going to see as many people. Definitely nice. So that's the canyons and caves, and that is obviously a very popular choice for a day trip, but there are a lot of other things you can do.

Tom [00:03:24]:

From Kutaisi, I think we skipped a famous one that people ask me about, and I'm like it's very touristy, Prometheus Caves. Very touristy. Right. What's your take on it? Do you think it's too touristy? Would you actually recommend anyone to go there now, or what do you think?

Emily Lush [00:03:39]:

So I went this time last year. Yeah. I mean, I'm not a cave person.

Tom [00:03:45]:

Well, putting your subjectivity aside, yes.

Emily Lush [00:03:49]:

Okay, look, I think they've done a great job of marketing it. They attached the legend of Prometheus to this cave when there was no connection previously. They just kind of put them together and look, we have a famous cave here. Look, I think as a sort of a natural wonder, it is the size of it is, the scale of it is quite impressive, but it's not a must do. It's not a must do. I think if you have kids who are into that kind of thing, cave stuff, cave stuff going underground. I mean, it's nice and cool. If it's a very hot summer stay, you might want to spend the hour or however long it takes to walk through the cave, but it's not a must do. There's Sataplia Nature Reserve, which also has a cave and, like, a lookout point. But look, those things are some tourists will enjoy them, but for me, they're not must dos.

Tom [00:04:37]:

Yeah. So all of those sort of city center tour guides sort of saying, Prometheus Caves, Martvili Canyon, you're like, now skip those tours. It's not really worth it.

Emily Lush [00:04:45]:

Yeah, I think, unless there's some specific reason that you're very interested in those particular spots. The history of Martvili is interesting, but for me, you can find much better landscapes in other locations. So if you're interested in history and a little bit of outdoors as well, then I would really recommend going to Vani. Vani is south of Kutaisi, and it's a small town. It's even older than Kutaisi, they believe, and maybe this was also a candidate for being the capital of the kingdom of cultures. So it has a very long history, and there are a lot of archaeological sites in this part of Imereti, and they have a fabulous, really, really good museum in Vani. It's only, I guess, 18 months old now, and it was nominated for a European Museum of the Year Award when it opened. So it is one of the best museums in Georgia, for sure. And the cool thing about it is that it's located sort of right on top of these burial grounds where they found a lot of these objects. So you can then go out outside the museum and see these places where they were excavating this material, and you find, like, beautiful coins and jewelry and a lot of gold work from this period of history. Really fascinating. And the biggest attraction at the museum is Tamada, the original statue of Tamada, the original one.

Tom [00:06:05]:

Now we'll see copies of this all around the country. There's one in central old Tbilisi. There's one outside the Signagi Museum as well. But, yes, the Tamadar is the toastmaster. We have a whole episode about the Supra. And there's more coming on that as well, because it's such a cool sort of cultural history, and it's a living history because it's still happening today as well. These supras, all these amazing feasts. But yeah, so the original one is actually in the museum there now.

Emily Lush [00:06:28]:

It is. It's in the museum. He's kind of the star attraction of the museum. And one of the first things that you see and he's a lot smaller than you might imagine.

Tom [00:06:37]:

Yeah. Because all of the copies are these huge replicas. But it's not to scale at all.

Emily Lush [00:06:42]:

No, it's not to scale. It's very delicate when you see it in person, but the replicas are very true to the original form. So it's very cool to see the original and to see it in this context of other objects that were found in these burial grounds. And then also the location of Vani itself, which is just very fascinating. Near Vani, to be honest, Vani is quite small. There's not a whole lot to do in the town apart from the museum. But nearby, there's sort of an instagram famous sulfur pool that you can you can get to very easily if you're in this area. And it's an example of there are sulfur springs all over Georgia, and especially in the west, there's lots near Tskaltubo, which we'll talk about, also has sulfur water. But this particular one, near Vani, kind of sprung up in the middle of a farmer's field, apparently 100 years ago, and it's kind of formed its own pool out of the mineral deposits. (The name of the sulfur spring she’s talking about near Vani is called Dikhashkho) And then I think there's a bit of concrete added in there as well. But you have these sort of two round sulfur pools with this gushing sulfur geyser that just there's no off button for this thing. It's just constantly gushing with warm sulfury water. And you can go and have a little open air bath, which is quite a unique experience.

Tom [00:08:06]:

So, yeah, it really is just this completely isolated by itself, random sulfur pool that's completely open air. And it's not that developed at this point, but I guess they might end up, sadly, developing it a bit more in the future, potentially.

Emily Lush [00:08:18]:

Yeah, there's a little place, a little wooden structure where you can get changed, but other than that, you're in the middle of nowhere.

Tom [00:08:26]:

So, I mean, I'm curious how busy this gets, because this is like one of those things that when I tell people you can go to a sulfur bath in the middle of nowhere, they're like, oh, that sounds amazing, and then if you're like, oh, there's going to be 50 people there. Oh, that doesn't sound great. So, I mean, it's seasonal, of course, whether it's busy or not, but how busy does it actually get at sort of peak, or is it still quite undiscovered, in your opinion?

Emily Lush [00:08:46]:

Look, it's very small. You're not going to fit more than 20 people maximum in the pool, so you definitely want to try and be there when it's quiet. And this is a good trick for anything in Georgia, I think, is to get off early and go early, because it's not really an early to rise culture. So I went maybe at 08:00 and we were there.

Tom [00:09:06]:

Yeah, that time doesn't exist to Georgians. It's like eight. What? Anything before nine doesn't exist?

Emily Lush [00:09:12]:

Yeah, that's the trick. So we had the whole thing to ourselves as we were leaving, a family came and they actually had some big containers that they were going to fill up with the sulfur water. So, I mean, in summer, probably in the evening, there would be more people, but if you get up early, I think you can definitely have it all to yourself.

Tom [00:09:32]:


Emily Lush [00:09:32]:

All right, so I talked about sulfur, I'll talk about Tskaltubo, which is probably the most famous day trip from Kutaisi, if you're interested in sort of offbeat Soviet era stuff. So for those who don't know, Tskaltubo was a resort town during the Soviet era that was built up as Balneological Resorts, so people would go there for their sort of rest and respite once a year or whatever, and they would stay in these beautiful sanatoriums and have health treatments at the baths using the natural sulfur water that springs from the earth in the park around in the center of Tskaltubo. So the park is where the mineral springs are and there are bathhouses. And then all around the park, there are these sort of varying states of decay sanatoriums that were once very, very grand and are now, some cases, sadly, sort of deteriorating. Tskaltubo is changing, like, super fast. A lot of these sanatoriums have been sold and are going to be redeveloped. So if you want to go and see this kind of nostalgic blast from the past urbex photographer's dream of Tskaltubo, now is definitely the time to go before it changes, because a lot of them have been sold and are being closed off. And so, yeah, it's definitely a very good time to go. But some of these buildings are absolutely gorgeous. A lot of them were repurposed in the 1990s. So families from Abkhazia, from the part of Georgia where there was a civil war, they were relocated to these sanatoriums. And actually, a lot of people still live in these buildings, so that has obviously changed the way that they look and function. So it has a very different feel, but the ones that are abandoned and that you can walk inside and explore, you can see, like the original wallpapers and wrought iron stairs and chandeliers in some cases, and you kind of get this feeling of what it must have been like back in the day.

Tom [00:11:33]:

Nice. And of course, some of them there's at least one that's been fully refurbished, or mostly in progress of being refurbished, which is now a hotel. Can't remember which name was. But it seems like the people who are refurbishing want to try and keep the nostalgia. Or do you think some of them are just going to completely knock things down and change it all?

Emily Lush [00:11:52]:

It's hard to say. I hope there are some controls over what can be done, but when you see the state of some of these buildings that are just falling apart, they've kind of been stripped of anything of value, a lot of them. And the amount of work it would take is pretty huge. It's a huge job. So it'll be interesting to see the approach. I know that they do want to make it into a spa resort again, because the water is very valuable for its health benefits and a lot of Georgians still go there to go to the baths and to have treatments there. It's still like Georgians. Also people other tourists from the other countries that were part of the Soviet Union. So they definitely want to restore it to that kind of tourism, I think. So, yeah, it will be interesting to see what approach they take with restoring these buildings. But, yeah, the one year you mentioned the old military sanatorium, it has definitely been preserved in sort of the true to style way. And the cool thing is that half of it has been restored and the other half hasn't. So you can really see what it was like and what happens when something is abandoned and left to decay, and what happens when you restore it in a very sensitive and loving way, because they have really kept a lot of the details. So that's a little bit like The Shining, I will say, when you're in that hotel. But it's a really cool experience.

Tom [00:13:10]:

All right, so lock the doors when you go to bed, just in case there's a crazy axe person around.

Emily Lush [00:13:16]:

So if you're interested in this Soviet history and this kind of period of history, you will also be familiar with Chiatura, which is a mining town about 2 hours from Kutaisi, and it's in Upper Imereti. So Imereti, the region that Kutaisi is in, it has an upper region which is just like the mountainous region. So Chiatura is famous for having this network of cable cars that were erected during Soviet times and they were designed to help miners get to and from work. Basically, the town is set in a valley and the mines are sort of up in the hills, so people would use these cable cars to get around town. It's a lot faster and good for productivity. So these cable cars were mostly decommissioned and a lot of them have been taken down. But it's still a very, very interesting city because it was sort of built up around the mines, built up around industry, and a lot of the architecture dates to the Soviet period. So even though the cable cars aren't working, I still recommend going because there's a lot of history and a lot of interesting architecture from that period and there are new cable cars that you can ride as well. So these came into service about 18 months ago, I guess. And it's a cool experience to ride on these cable cars nice. Up into the hills of Chiatura and go find these Pioneer’s Palace and other sort of relics.

Tom [00:14:32]:

Yeah. And that's about sort of about an hour's drive from Kutaisi, right?

Emily Lush [00:14:36]:

Maybe a little longer.

Tom [00:14:37]:

Just over an hour. Yeah. And you can pass this crazy Katskhi Pillar monastery on the way, which is very random. I don't think you can actually go up there. You can just take photos from the outside. Right. Or can you go up there? I don't know.

Emily Lush [00:14:48]:

No, I don't think you're allowed to go up there. I think there's one well, for many years there was one solitary monk who lived up there and there's sort of a pulley system that he would use to get provisions and things. I'm sure he came down and well, but it's kind of a very sacred place and you're not supposed to set foot in this monastery, but you can certainly admire it from afar. And it is quite an interesting, sudden.

Tom [00:15:10]:

And unexpected spike of rock with a monastery on top. And by spike I mean it is really quite a narrow piece of rock that they've built this thing on top of.

Emily Lush [00:15:19]:


Tom [00:15:20]:

And you can see it from in the middle of nowhere. It's just this random spike.

Emily Lush [00:15:23]:


Tom [00:15:24]:

Natural formation, of course, with the monastery being built on top.

Emily Lush [00:15:27]:


Tom [00:15:28]:

You'll see that from the road as you can stop off on the way if you want, or you can go a little closer. Yeah, just random little stopping spot.

Emily Lush [00:15:35]:

A little random is always good in Georgia.

Tom [00:15:37]:

Yeah, I mean, there's plenty of it.

Emily Lush [00:15:38]:


Tom [00:15:40]:

That's part of the charm is that you can go around and these things, they don't need actual tourism. They're not overwhelmed with tourism. It's just random places that yeah. Wow. Okay.

Emily Lush [00:15:51]:

That exists.

Tom [00:15:52]:

Great. Yeah, that's the thing. Awesome.

Emily Lush [00:15:55]:

Another place you pass on the way to Chiatura is Zestafoni. Zestafoni is similar it's a town that was very much built up as an industrial town in the Soviet period. And it revolves around this absolutely massive ferro alloy factory where they would process the raw materials coming from the mines in Chiatura. So it would come down into Zestafoni and be processed at the factory there. And the factory has been running since 1933. They've never had a day off because they can't let the machines cool down. So it's a very, very interesting history there. And then the whole town of Zestafoni kind of sprung up around this factory. So, again, if you're interested in the Soviet stuff, really interesting architecture. They also have a really fantastic market that is a very new addition to the town. But one of my favorite markets in Georgia is in Zestafoni. They have beautiful mosaics, really, really stunning mosaics. And they are doing a lot of investment in the town to try and bring tourists in. So really exciting projects. They're restoring a lot of the mosaics and they're going to open the factory to tours. So I was lucky enough to do a tour last year, part of a Polish NGO led project to utilize this amazing asset that they have a very particular type of tourism, I will say. But even for me, I don't know anything about ferro alloys or metal or factories.

Tom [00:17:23]:

Yeah, it doesn't sound like a particular tourist attraction. Yeah, come and see our ferro alloys. But no, the building is amazing. I mean, it's massive. You can see it driving through Zestafoni.

Emily Lush [00:17:33]:

Being Georgia, you can go anywhere on this tour. Okay. There's no rules about where you can and cannot walk. And having this molten metal being poured into a mold, like, right above your head is pretty amazing.

Tom [00:17:48]:

Wow. Yeah.

Emily Lush [00:17:50]:

So I definitely recommend that as just something totally quirky. And only in Georgia would you have that kind of experience. And just the history is pretty amazing that this factory has never stopped working. And you can see like old Russian kind of stuff, vending machines and posters and stuff in the control room. You're also allowed in the control room, which is kind of interesting because obviously.

Tom [00:18:11]:

Why not let completely inexperienced tourists go in the control room of a massive factory?

Emily Lush [00:18:16]:

As long as you don't touch anything, it's fine. Yeah.

Tom [00:18:18]:

Okay. They're watching people for that.

Emily Lush [00:18:20]:

Yes. So, yeah, that's my little plug for Zestafoni because I think it's a really very interesting place and obviously doesn't see a lot of tourists. And these small towns that kind of have a roadside economy, they rely on people driving through. And with the new there is a new highway being built that will kind of bypass these towns. So their future is a little bit uncertain in some ways. So these are places you can go and have a really unique experience. Stay in a guest house. You'll be the only guest for sure. And just have something really different to do in western Georgia.

Tom [00:18:55]:

Yeah. And the traffic is so bad in Zestafoni that actually the bypass. That's one of the few villages where it's like, thank God they're putting a bypass in because it gets every bit of traffic going east west in Georgia literally hits this town. And it's just a massive tailback. It's a but especially during yeah, during like rush hour or whatever it is just it's terrible.

Emily Lush [00:19:15]:


Tom [00:19:15]:

So yeah, add an extra sort of half an hour to your journey if you're traveling anytime between like 04:00 P.m. And 07:30 P.m., because you're just going to get sitting in Zestafoni for half an hour.

Emily Lush [00:19:25]:

Definitely. Yeah. Or you can sit in Zestafoni for a whole day and experience that another option. The best of the town. So that's kind of an herbexing photographer focused section there's also. Yeah. As I mentioned, incredible nature near Kutaisi. So Racha is a very underrated mountain region, and it is super close to Kutaisi. It's directly to the north, and you can get there in about an hour to Shaori Lake. It's a reservoir that is very, very beautiful, especially in autumn. It's sort of surrounded by forests that is super beautiful when the fall colors come into season. So there are some really interesting churches, including Nikortsminda Cathedral, which is nearby. And that is absolutely one of the most stunning churches in Georgia, in my opinion, for UNESCO.

Tom [00:20:15]:

Yeah. The frescoes there are also perfectly preserved, but it's a much, much smaller cathedral than the Gelati monastery complex that we were talking about.

Emily Lush [00:20:23]:

Yeah. And beautiful stone engravings as well. So that is like it's a church. Yes, but it's definitely worth seeing. But Racha region is very popular with Georgian people, but fewer foreigners go there. So it's kind of this, like a little bit different mountain region. There's hiking trails. There's also amazing wine. Khvanchkara comes from this region, so there are wineries in Amber Lowry where you can taste Khvanchkara. And then there's the village of Khvanchkara, where you can visit a vineyard as well. And yeah, just the whole region is really beautiful. Really beautiful mountains, really fantastic food. They're known for ham. Racha ham is very popular.

Tom [00:21:03]:

Smoky, intense ham. Salty, very salty, but very tasty.

Emily Lush [00:21:08]:

Very tasty. So I really recommend Racha, and you can do it as a day trip from Kutaisi because it's nice and close. If you maybe have a little bit longer, you can go to Oni, which is a smaller town in Racha, and it has a beautiful synagogue and a very interesting Jewish history as well. So definitely Racha. There's a fantastic little short hike you can do called Tkhrajvari, which is right on the border of Imereti and Racha regions. And it's Tkhrajvari, which means like nine crosses, and you go right up this very steep mountain where there is a little stone chapel at the top and these magnificent nine cross metal crosses and just panoramic views all the way to the Black sea all through the mountains, greater Caucasus Mountains of Racha. So that's a really nice little short hike that you can do.

Tom [00:21:58]:

It is if you actually want to climb up I think we're talking about the same place, but I can't pronounce the name. But if you actually want to climb up to that little shrine at the top, it is very steep. It's very steep. And we did not know what we were getting ourselves into when we tried to climb that.

Emily Lush [00:22:13]:

But I went in autumn last year.

Tom [00:22:16]:

And thankfully they're building the yes, it was half done, and there was a bunch of work guys up there when I was there in autumn.

Emily Lush [00:22:23]:

Yeah, they've done some steps before that. You had to actually grab onto these rusty chains to pull yourself up.

Tom [00:22:29]:

The chains are still underneath the steps. I guess they'll leave them there for prosperity.

Emily Lush [00:22:34]:

If you prefer to use the chains, you can. There are some steps as well.

Tom [00:22:37]:

Yeah. I was breathing very heavily by the top, and maybe I'm just too unfit, but it was very steep even with the steps. Very, very steep.

Emily Lush [00:22:46]:

I hope it was still worth it.

Tom [00:22:47]:

Yeah. No, I mean, the view from the top is amazing. And then you can look around behind you as well, and you got views of sort of snowy mountaintops as well on the other side. And then the lake down past Tkibuli yes. Is really, like spreads out as an interesting shape. Yeah, it's a cool spot, definitely. And it's very easy. If you don't want to do the hike up to the top, you can still just go to the viewpoint, which is connected to the road, and you could just park in in the viewpoint there instead as well. So if you can't climb those steps yeah.

Emily Lush [00:23:13]:

And that's a new road. So it's a very nice little short drive to get to that trailhead. So continuing outdoorsy stuff, I mentioned that there's lots of tea in Georgia, and for me, this landscape of tea fields is very, very interesting. So if you're interested in visiting a tea farm, there are a couple that you can visit very close to Kutaisi. You only have to drive maybe 10 15 minutes up the Rioni River before you start seeing tea plantations. And you recognize them immediately because of the little shrubs. But the famous one, Renegade, is run by Estonian and Lithuanian families who moved here a couple of years ago, and they've revived these old so that the tea fields were sort of they were planted a long time ago, mainly in Guria region, but in Soviet times, they really expanded and industrialised the tea industry in Georgia. So a lot of these tea fields from Soviet era but were sort of abandoned. There's factories as well that were abandoned, and a few people, including Renegade, have come in and sort of rehabilitated the fields and are now producing really, really fantastic tea.

Tom [00:24:22]:

Yeah. And it's crazy. As a wine industry person myself, so many vines were not replanted in that area in Soviet times due to the fact that the Soviets just decided, this isn't going to be the wine country, this will be tea country. And we'll replant everything because a lot of the vines were destroyed in the late 19th century due to philoxia, which is like a disease. Most people might be familiar with this, that vines across the entire world were just destroyed, all within the space of sort of like 20 years. And that whole region used to be quite famous for wines, and a lot of them just never got replanted. And then now they're only just replanting in those areas. But of course, there's so much tea now already that those businesses are already functioning. So that's also going on.

Emily Lush [00:25:02]:

Yes. They are setting up a tea route in Guria, which is the smallest region in Georgia, and it's also reachable from Kutaisi. Maybe it's more of an overnight stop, but if you're interested in tea, yeah, definitely head west of Kutaisi and visit these farms. They're very interesting. But if you're more interested in wine, of course we have plenty of that as well. And I think my favorite place to visit wineries is around Baghdati, which is a village south of Kutaisi, and there are a lot of really nice vineyards and maranis concentrated around this village. So the whole range of one man operations, one fellow who does a great winery, his ancestors were making wine for the king, and he has this private collection of vines. And through to more sort of, you know, more about this Tom. But a lot of commercial wineries, I think, have sort of have vines in this part of Georgia as well.

Tom [00:26:05]:

But the tasting rooms aren't necessarily open and ready. But we're expecting things to open. But yeah, I mean, they bought land, then they transport the grapes to somewhere else to make the wine part of the time. The things are changing very fast in that area, and a lot of small wineries are opening as well, or at least opening their doors to tourists and starting to plant more grapes.

Emily Lush [00:26:24]:

Definitely. Yeah. One of the more well known ones is by Baias Wine, which has been open to tourists for a few years now. And they have a really nice family restaurant on the vineyard where you can do a wine tasting and have a supra. So that's a really nice sort of activity to do from Kutaisi as well. Otherwise, get a car and drive Imereti's wine route, which is smaller than in Kakheti, of course, but very, very interesting.

Tom [00:26:52]:

Yeah. Or get someone else to drive you because otherwise you can't really drink the wine.

Emily Lush [00:26:56]:

Good point

Tom [00:26:58]:

The things people think in Georgia, that the wine tasting is going to be like in France or California, where you have a couple of sips and you spit the wine out. They're not bringing a spatoon to the wine tasting in Georgia, you have to specifically ask them for one and they'll give you a funny look, like, really? Do you have to spit my wine out? I made this. I personally made this myself. So, yeah, if you think you're going to go to a wine tasting and stay sober enough to drive, that's probably not going to happen unless you have an iron will.

Emily Lush [00:27:24]:

Yes. Bring a driver is always a better option. Further west, it's only an hour, just over an hour to get to the Black Sea coast from Kutaisi. So if you want to swim or there are also some great national parks along the Black Sea coast. And this is also a very nice option for a day trip from Kutaisi. So in terms of beaches, I really like the area around Ureki and Shekvetili. These are more like the black sand beaches. So where in Batumi and further south on the coast, you have sort of pebbles going down to, like, bigger rocks. Up in the northern part of the Black Sea coast, it's a finer sand. So it is like sort of more what you're used to if you're used to swimming on other beaches, it's more of a sandy beach. And these are really like underdeveloped beaches. There's pine forest right on the beach. There's not a lot of resorts or anything like that, so you can often find a very quiet spot to swim. I think it's really nice for families as well, and obviously very seasonal. A lot of people go there in summer, but it's a nice day trip at any time of year because there are other things to do. Shekvetili, which is a town on the Black Sea coast, it also has Dendrological Park, which is a really nice sort of botanical garden type thing with a very interesting story behind it. So there's a Georgian ex-politician who collects these very old trees and has replanted them in this Shekvetili Dendrological Park. So you can go and walk among these very old grand trees. And yeah, there are a couple of other things to do in that area as well. A little bit further north and also very accessible from Kutaisi is Poti and Kolkheti National Park, which is really spectacular. It's like a wetland. You go basically the only way to visit is by boat. So you take a speedboat on the river into this sort of wetlands landscape. It's also a UNESCO site and just really amazing bird life and just a very different landscape.

Tom [00:29:28]:

All right, we covered a lot of things. Do you have any other what else have you got? Are we getting towards the end.

Emily Lush [00:29:34]:

A lot yeah, I mean, look, those are kind of the main things that I'd recommend as day trips. There's also Sairme, which is further south from Baghdati, and that's another sort of area that's known for its mineral waters, and it's very beautiful scenery. It's like a very small version of Borjomi, which is a popular mineral water resort town. But here there's kind of just a couple of hotels that are old sanatoriums and you can do your outdoor kind of bathing in this mineral water. So that's really nice, as well as something alternative. But yeah, those are kind of the main sites. If you have more time, of course, you want to go further into Racha, into Lechkumi, into Svaneti, which are also relatively close to Kutaisi.

Tom [00:30:19]:

All right, yeah, I think we've got plenty there. That's going to be two episodes. No, that's all good. And at some point in the future, I'll be releasing an episode about Imereti and wine regions in general. So we really just touched very briefly on Baghdati being one of the coolest spots to go. And Baia’s Wine is the most famous sort of female winemaker there. Her sister as well, Gvanca, her and her brother and Giorgi all work together on the wines. And that's really nice place to go and hang out as well and chill. They're not always there to meet you in person. They are very busy. They are traveling around the world, promoting their wines at wine festivals everywhere. It's hard to pin them down, but it's such a beautiful little spot to go and visit whether they're there or not. And some of the family will probably host you if they're not there.

Emily Lush [00:31:03]:

Mom is usually there and she's also very lovely.

Tom [00:31:07]:

That's a good area to go. And then near to there, we've also got Sviri Village, which is a Microzone, a PDO microzone the only one in the area at the moment, but new ones are being sort of established all the time. And then Terjola and close to Zestaponi also. There's some good wineries around those areas. But yeah, we'll look out for that episode. I'll be talking about that as well. Lots of more wine. There's always more wine episodes to be done in Georgia.

Emily Lush [00:31:31]:

Good, I look forward to listening to that one as well.

Tom [00:31:33]:

So, all right, that's it for this episode. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where can people find you? I know we mentioned at the start, but maybe some more details so people can come and find your blog and anything else that you want people to know about.

Emily Lush [00:31:46]:

Yes, so I'm always blogging and writing about Georgia, so I live on my website, Wanderlush. If you Google it, you can find me. And that's also where I'm going to be sharing any new projects that I'm involved with. So, looking to do a few new, exciting things this year and you'll be able to find all the information there. I also do travel planning. If you need some help planning your trip, you can jump on there and I can help you to set out your itinerary, give you some advice. I am by no means a Georgia expert, but I am very obsessed with it.

Tom [00:32:20]:

Georgia, and I would say you are a Georgia expert. As far as foreigners go, you're one of the top Georgia experts. Really? Wow.

Emily Lush [00:32:26]:

Thank you. I am trying to learn and explore as much as I can. And yes, you can find me on Wanderlush and please get in touch if you need some help with your trip.

Tom [00:32:37]:

Nice. Awesome. And yeah, thanks for listening to this podcast. Obviously leave us an awesome review. A five star review is the type we like. Less than five stars. That's not very nice, is it? It's not a nice thing to do, leaving less than five stars. If you really hate it, send us an email and tell us why and we'll improve it. How about that? That's a better solution than leaving nasty reviews. Don't know. Just saying. Just saying. And yeah, keep an eye on new episodes. They're always coming out here on the Tbilisi podcast. And of course you can find me on If you're looking to take a wine tour, we are doing tours in Imereti. We're doing tours in Kakheti from Tbilisi as well. So there's plenty of options for that. If you want to go and visit Baia, you can do that with us or you can do it independently or we've got some other secret wineries that we have definitely not mentioned that we like to take people to that are pretty cool. All right, so Emily, thanks again for coming on the show.

Emily Lush [00:33:24]:

Thanks for having me.

Tom [00:33:24]:

Appreciate it.

Emily Lush [00:33:25]:

Thank you.

Tom [00:33:25]:

All right, maybe we'll get you back at some point. You do know everything.

Emily Lush [00:33:30]:

Anytime. I'm happy to come and ramble about any topic Georgia related.

Tom [00:33:34]:

So anytime it wasn't too much rambling, I think people will agree that it was nice and concise and we covered a lot in a very short amount of time, so that was great. All right, cheers everyone. We'll speak to you next time on the Tbilisi Podcast.

Meg [00:33:47]:

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