After Akhaltsikhe & our trip to Vardzia we had a couple of days in the small town of Borjomi, situated in the valley of the Mtkvari River 48 kms from Akhaltsikhe on the way to Tbilisi. Borjomi is famous for its salty-sour, fizzy mineral water which we didn’t think too much of, but it’s pretty popular in the former Soviet Union.
Aside from the mineral water, the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park is the other main attraction that brings tourists here. It was October when we were here and although the trees were looking pretty, it wasn’t quite the right time of year for exploring considering we didn’t have proper hiking or camping gear with us.
Instead we explored the Mineral Water Park which dates back to the 1850s. The health giving mineral spring was discovered here by Russian soldiers in 1810 and then a Russian governor later developed the town as a resort. We walked along the Mtkvari River from our accommodation, crossed it then followed the smaller Borjomula River up a valley to the entrance of the water park. All along the way there were people selling honey and other things, there was a flash hotel and cool wee bridges, all creating the feel of a resort town.
Just after you enter the park, there was a pavillion and under it were a few taps located above the Ekaterina Spring. Here peple could fill up their bottles with the unusual water, supposedly good for various ailments. We found it quite amusing that there were large signs prohibiting the use of 5L and 10L bottles from being filled and yet this is exactly what the people were filling. A slurp of the fizzy water was more than enough for me!
Although the hot water springs were discovered by Russian soldiers in the 1800s, archaeologists have found andestine tubs dating back to the first century on this site, believed to have been created for taking mineral water baths. The springs were well known until the 16th century when the gorge for various unfortunate reasons became uninhabited and thus the springs unused for a few centuries.
We carried on passed various theme park attractions that were mostly closed given the time of year and late stage of the day. We passed a nice waterfall too on our ca. 3km walk along the river to a spring fed swimming pool.
By the time we arrived at the open air pools the sun had gone down and I have to admit I was a bit disappointed the pools were not very hot. About 27 degrees which was pretty chilly. After soaking for a bit and chatting for some time with a friendly Georgian man in the pool we got dressed and headed back down the pitch black path. It was really rather scarey walking without seeing much at all. In the end I used my cellphone for some light although I haven’t yet figured out how to access the torch feature on it.
We were happy when we reached the themepark attractions and lit paths… then it wasn’t too far to go. We’d walked at least 10km by the time we got back to our BnB. Then it was time to relax and catch up online with the Black Caps cricket news from the days play in India.