After a full day of exploring Kutaisi and its surroundings, we were all excited about the road trip to one of the most picturesque regions in Georgia, Mestia. It was a good 5-6 hours drive from Kutaisi, but the bonus was the drive through Georgia’s beautiful country side. We had planned to stop at some points of interest along the way to Mestia.
The trip started at 7:30 in the morning. Our driver, a Georgian man, spoke basic, understandable Polish and said that he learned it by hearing his Polish customers speak. Impressive. Perhaps his knowledge of Russian(like many Georgians) helped. The weather was unfortunately as bad as it could be. It had been raining heavily and I regretted more than ever that I didn’t have any raincoat or umbrella. We decided to stop at the first site anyway.
Dadiani Palace in Zugididi
The first was a palace museum located in Zugididi. Dadiani museum is considered one of the most important palaces in the whole Caucacus region. The palace was pretty but nothing grand. We went up to the front door and tried to see if the museum was open, but it wasn’t. Our peek inside one of the halls gave impression that the museum was generally in poor condition. We noticed a little church next to the palace, and we entered inside. There was a solemn ceremony taking place and we stuck out like sore thumbs. We went outside and I later noticed the signs that prohibited women wearing pants from entering. The dress code for women was headscarves and long skirts or dresses with modest t-shirt/sweater. I was hoping that we’d find a shop selling umbrella or raincoat, but we couldn’t so we rushed back to the jeep after about 15 minutes.
After passing through beautiful Georgian villages and valleys (although not much was visible due to the terrible weather), we were near our second point of interest, Enguri Dam. As we drove into higher elevations of the country, the weather just got worse, and the visibility was close to none. I don’t know what we were thinking when we stopped near Enguri dam, but right after reaching the view point I experienced one of the most disappointing moments of my life. Enguri dam, one of the major hydroelectric dams in Georgia on the Enguri river was completely engulfed in clouds. The site is also known for the magnificent height that makes for the spectacular scenery around the area. What we saw however was this:The driver proposed that we stop at the dam again in the evening while returning if the daylight allowed. We left the heavily guarded area after discussing the disappointment and hoped the weather cleared, just a bit at least.
Quick photo stops
As we drove higher and higher toward Mestia, the clouds cleared in some parts, allowing us to see partially see the beautiful scenery.
We also stopped at a suspension bridge (wooden) and the surroundings reminded me of Nepal very much. In fact I found much of the mountainous scenery very similar to that in Nepal.
By the time we arrived in Mestia, it was about 1 in the afternoon and still raining. The town laid among magnificent high mountains. We had passed through scenic mountains, valleys, villages, streams, pastures and gorges to arrive in the town and we were starving by then. Our driver recommended us a restaurant where we enjoyed a lunch of Georgia’s famuous dumplings, khinkhali as well as Georgian bread.
We were surprised when our order of khinkhali was served as they were much bigger than we thought. My order of five dumplings were way too much. It was juicy and not very easy to eat. We had ordered khinkhali with beef fillings and mushroom fillings. Delicious and juicy. I had read before going to Georgia that khinkhali is typically eaten by first sucking the juices while taking first bite to avoid the juices from spilling. The tough top is supposed to be not eaten and discarded. I tried eating it the Georgian way but I still made a mess.
Mestia is a good point for hiking to nearby attractions such as Mt. Ushba, Chalaadi glacier and Ushguli, village at highest altitude in Europe. We didn’t have any time for hiking so we walked around the town after lunch while it was still raining. We were surrounded by breathtaking scenery, we could even see cattle grazing on highland pastures from our restaurant window. But the weather wasn’t at its best, it was far from it. That was when our hired ride came in handy: our driver showed us around the town and we enjoyed the scenery from inside the vehicle. I could JUST imagine how gorgeous everything would have looked and felt had the weather been clear.
We had to be back in Kutaisi by the evening as I had flight back to Poland the next morning. The weather cleared a little while we returned and we enjoyed the ride through fresh green forests and mountains after an entire day of rain to the tune of upbeat Georgian songs coming from the radio. We stopped at the dam from the morning, and could enjoy a much better view.
We did a little exploring in the area and soaked up the serenity. By the time we were near Kutaisi, sun had started to peak from the fading clouds and it was a glorious evening. We even saw snow-capped mountains at a distance from low elevation near Kutaisi. I was upset that I had to leave the other morning when the weather was just starting to get better. I decided to stay up the whole night playing cards and drinking wine to make it to the airport at 5 in the morning while my boyfriend and friends stayed as they had two more days in beautiful Georgia.