…and a bottle of wine will get your bags carried to the train door. We arrived at the train station, located behind a shopping center, 30 minutes before departure. It took about 10 minutes to get our bags out of the taxi, get situated in our room and decide how to pay the unofficial baggage handler. The art of the hustle is prevalent in Tbilisi, so many are trying to make a lari or ten wherever and however they can. The night we took the overnight train, they was a man hustling to get money by carrying bags.
Before crossing borders, I try to use up as much of the local currency as I can to avoid excess anything. So, by the time we arrived at the train staion, I had about 5 lari left (3 US dollars). I didn’t ask the man to carry our bags and even told him I could carry them myself but he was determined to hustle so me money from me.
He was kind and let my daughter ride on top of the bags so I relaxed a bit and felt the 5 lari would be enough if I carried some of the bags because it was only a 1 minute trip from taxi door to train door.
Noooo, noooooo, no.
We get into our room on the train and it’s time to settle up. I pull out the 5 lari from my coat pocket and look confidently at the baggage handler. He utters something in Georgian and I just keep looking at him with those when will you be leaving me alone eyes. It doesn’t matter. He just stands there until I begin rummaging through all my pockets to find any leftover lari. Nope, still only have the 5. So, this is when the panic begins to erupt. I begin pulling out hryvna and forint – Ukrainian and Hungarian currency, respectively – and asking if this will do. Nope. But, not to worry, SuperWine saves the day!
I suddenly remember I had a gifted bottle of wine in my bag and quickly pull it out and point it reluctantly in the direction of the baggage handler/hustler. The wide smile which engulfed his face at the sight of that wine bottle was enough to break any and all language barriers. SUCCESS! Whew, THAT was close. Now, we wait another 20/25 minutes and we start chugging along on the way to Batumi.
The train car was excellent, plenty of under-the-seat space for bags and a hook for coats/jackets/small bags. There was a window in front of which a small table was placed. A television above this table aired local Georgian television and showed movies as well. There were overhead racks for overnight bags and is where the sheets, blankets and pillowcases were located. There were a lot of stops but even a light sleeper such as myself was able to catch a good 3 hours of sleep. The train arrived in Batumi early, 06:30 after a nearly 7 hour trip. Batumi is a beautiful city and if you can maneuver your way around more hustlers and frustration at the Batumi train station (taxi drivers, room offerers, constant staring), then your trip from Tbilisi can end as pleasantly as it started.
- First-class ticket costs 40 Georgian Lari (25 US dollars)
P.S. To purchase the ticket, go into the shopping center and up 2 sets of escalators/stairs and you will see the windows for train tickets. Go to the right (around ticket window #12) for the tickets from Tbilisi-Batumi. If you would like to take the train at another time, they offer a day train, the schedules are posted on the wall to the left if the escalators are behind you. Ciao 4 Now, Y’All 🙂