IMG_0264This is the Dadiani Palace, home to the last reigning Prince of Mingrelia, who abdicated to the Russian Czar in the late 19th century and moved to St. Petersburg while the Czar took the remaining western portion of Georgia and the warm water port of Batumi on the Black Sea.  The snow capped mountains in the background are the Caucasus, with Abkhazia in the foreground and Sochi, Russia just beyond.  That’s where the 2014 Winter Olympics will be held.

We left Tbilisi, Georgia last weekend and drove 160 miles west to the Black Sea.  The Caucasus Mountains, 20,000 feet tall and snowcapped year round are on both sides of the valley.  The Dadiani Palace is in Zugdidi, just 25 miles from the Black Sea, so the climate is sub-tropical; they’re selling oranges, lemons, and gigantic persimmons all along the road.  Batumi is a destination resort long prized by the Russians and now popular with many from the Middle East because it’s warm in the summer, but not hot.  We stayed at the Radisson Blue in Batumi; 19 floors tall right on the Black Sea.  The highway from Tbilisi is lined by modest houses of people engaged in subsistence agriculture on small plots of land given them when the Soviet Union dissolved and Georgia became independent.  Though the land is fertile and water plentiful, there is no sign of modern large scale farming.

It’s from this background that The Mingrelian will emerge; Boyd Chailland’s next adventure.  Stay tuned for more.