The source of Georgian mineral water.
Borjomi is a town in central Georgia, but it is also a brand of mineral water produced in the town. Apparently the Borjomi water is quite popular in Georgia, Russia and the other neighbouring countries; I’d even seen it in Romania once. Besides the mineral water and thermal baths, the town is famous for several nearby castles, palaces and, you guessed it, monasteries (if you’ve been reading my previous Georgia posts, you’ll know by now that there are monasteries in Georgia at every corner).
I was there in 2018 with my boyfriend and we stayed at a homestay with an elderly Russian and his even older mother, who were incredibly nice people (more here). The proximity of the skiing resort town Bakuriani is an added draw for tourists coming to Borjomi and the town is also the gateway to the Borjomi-Kharagauli national park – we did manage to get a taste of the beautiful Georgian nature there.
Borjomi is a popular spot for rich Russian tourists and it shows. Compared to other non-touristic Georgian cities, Borjomi’s central area was quite well-off and modern, featuring an expensive hotel and several restaurants with fancy night lights, as well as a modern tourist information centre. However, the abundance of the city centre gave way to socialist apartment buildings and decrepit villas as soon as we crossed the bridge spanning the Borjomi river, which had several nerve racking holes in it. P.S.: one of my favourite things from Borjomi was seeing a turkey, which must have escaped from nearby, grazing on the railway tracks. Another thing were Georgian graveyards, as Georgians apparently like to put images of the deceased on the gravestones. Their graveyards are thus well-worth checking out, in a respectful way of course.
Impressions of Borjomi
We visited the Mineral water park first, which is probably Borjomi’s most famous site and we got to try the famous Borjomi water straight from the source in the iconic blue pavilion. It tasted about as bad as the one from Bath, as the horrible metallic-sulfuric-greenish-supposedly-healing taste is intensified when the water is still hot. The blue Firuza palace on one of photos above, is located at the entrance and the Mineral water park also features an amusement park, which was closed since we visited out of season, but we didn’t really mind, because that meant no crowds. To top it all off, the park also has a cable car to the top of the hill and the views from there were spectacular. In typical Georgian fashion, some bulls were grazing right next to the cable car station on top of the hill, which was a tiny bit scary.
The Mineral water park
Apart from visiting the Mineral water park we explored the city as much as possible and bought some interesting local foods (Georgians not only make fruit jams, but also sweet, preserved pine cones) and souvenirs. We had excellent spiced meat for dinner at one of the restaurants and headed to the Borjomi – Kharagauli national park the next day.