Gudauri to Akhaltsikhe

Wednesday, August 17, 2022 - 19:00

Just after lunch today I was considering not bothering with a blog entry since the day had been completely uneventful as we drove from Gudauri to our hotel for the night in Akhaltsikhe near the Turkish border. This mostly took us on roads we have driven previously, except for a stretch of motorway which while great from a driving perspective after so many busy single carriageway roads, wasn't much to write about other than to mention we drove right along the border of the Russian occupied territory of South Ossetia. This all changed however when we reached our EV charging spot in Borjomi. We didn't think much of it at first: it was in the car park at the entrance of a hotel, and I'd been there to charge last time we were in town. However last time I'd put the car on charge then quickly walked back to our other hotel in the main town centre. This time we had time to kill and no hotel to stay at, so we decided to explore the grounds of this hotel instead. This was where the day suddenly became a bit more interesting.

It turns out that the Likani Hotel and Spa not only has the only EV charger in Borjomi, but it also happens to be located on the gated grounds where the late 19th century Romanov Palace is located. The Palace has been closed to the public since May 2019, supposedly due to renovation works (we saw no evidence of anything going on), and is no longer accessible to the public even to see from a distance, unless you happen to be staying at the hotel. I did read a report online of some tourists sneaking onto the grounds over the nearby train tracks on the other side of the river, and then over a rope bridge, but that sounds like quite a dangerous route to take! All other reports were of people being very annoyed to be turned away at the hotel gates, and not able to see this piece of history despite their interest in it. What these people obviously didn't try is turn up at the gates in a quite nice UK-licence plated car and to just get let in with no questions asked!

We discovered the Romanov Palace by accident as we strolled through the hotel gardens waiting for the car to charge. The walk took us on a path parallel to the river, when we eventually came to another path to the right which the Palace was sitting on a slight hill at the end of. We walked closer and could see an old fountain and several lines of police tape covering the staircase leading up to the palace itself. I did a quick check around for CCTV cameras, not expecting much in this quiet woodland spot, and then snuck up the hill past the tape to take some photos of the palace closer up. It was strange to see it effectively abandoned, and it clearly used to have tours going on since there were signposts with arrows and for the toilets. We felt very lucky to get to see it given the circumstances, and were left feeling very intrigued as to what renovations are supposedly going to take place here. Once we were done looking around, we went back down toward the river and I walked over the old foot suspension bridge to take some photos of the beautiful forested mountain scenery on either side. I hadn't realised on our last trip to Borjomi, but this is the same Mtkvari River which flows all the way to Tbilisi and beyond.

Once we were fully charged we got back in the car and completed the trip to Akhaltsikhe, which is just 20km from the Turkish border and leaves us very well positioned for an early start tomorrow morning to avoid the queues as much as possible. Akhaltsikhe seems like a nice little city, and feels less poor than many of the other places we have seen outside of Tbilisi in Georgia. There is a castle complex which we haven't had time to look around properly, but I might go for a run to in the morning before we leave.

Electric Vehicle EV Notes: 

We stopped at two EcoCars chargers on our way today:
- EcoCars 50KW DC charger at Wissol service station just outside Gori. A local man turned up in a Tesla while we were charging and looked rather annoyed the charger wasn't free - I guess that doesn't happen much here!
- EcoCars at Likani Resort in Borjomi, the same charger we used last time we were in Borjomi. The gates at the hotel were closed this time but the guard opened them up with no questions asked when we approached.

Miles Driven: 

Add new comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.