I just spent a full week in sweet Georgia for the Cash Game Weekend stop in Batumi from 10th to 15th July. If you go to the photo section of this website, you will find a link to the archive of more than 200 photos I shot during my stay or you can scroll down to end of this post to get to the Facebook album.
The standard program was to stroll around the city and its beaches during the day while I spent almost all my nights at the casino resulting in a pretty poor local nightlife experience all in all. While we had a lot of fun (and drinks) together last time we met in Riga, my hosts were pretty busy this time resulting in another problem I had not anticipated: there was quite some language barrier over here as very few people speak decent enough English to have a proper conversation. I am not fluent at all in Latvian but at least, I could read the signs and menus, make deductions or suppositions while I was tapping in complete darkness here.
Not that I have become super shy all of a sudden but, additionally to the harsh language Georgian is, it's completely and absolutely impossible to read Georgian for me. I cannot even identify all the letters of their alphabet and when something was translated in local stores, it was in Russian or Ukrainian which is also a writing system I don't master. The rest of the population is Turkish, Iraninan or from some STAN republic from even further East. hardly any western people seem to make it to Batumi. To top it, most signs are still handwritten here which makes writing notoriously event more difficult to read even when you know the writing system. It felt like being deaf or at least dumb which almost never happens to me with my pretty good knowledge of 8 languages by now and I think I missed out on a lot just because of that. I'll be better prepared next time...
All this would not discourage me from skipping any of the crappy western fast foods and stores that of course managed to spread over here too. Those moderne and hopelessly not Georgian places were more or less the only ones where I could actually read the name of what I was eating and drinking before tasting it. Being a vegetarian, this was a bit of a hassle and I ended up a few times with something in my hand or in my mouth that I really did not want :p Last time I was in Tblisi, there were more signs/menus/notes translated into English and I had two local buddies with me that would translate me things or at least tell me afterwards what I had eaten and how it's called so I could order it [never] again depending on whether I liked it or not :) This week, I could not even read the names of certain streets I was passing by.
I had some rather cool random encounters with locals in the streets of Batumi nevertheless, I even had a date but I mostly had a blast admiring the mixed architecture of this booming city. Georgian hospitality is not a legend!
The Poker games as such were also pretty nice with daily 5/5 and 5/10 (US Dollars) games running and occasionally higher blinds in NLH and PLO formats and the action was going on until very late/early every morning.
Talking about Tbilisi, Cash Game Weekend has just announced that their next stop will be in the capital city in late August so check your agendas and save the dates. It's coming up quickly. More info will follow soon under www.cashgameweekend.com.
In the meanwhile, enjoy the Batumi photos ;)
More personal thoughts on my Instagram feed.