Martvili was a mixed bag of goods – I’ll explain why. The initial reason for coming was the recommendation of a local, who said that the canyon is pretty and all.
When we arrived, we were initially not blown away – the town itself is pretty small, with not a lot happening. We did, in fact, end up doing the boat ride down the canyon, which ended up being expensive and short. Pretty, but way too short to make it worthwhile.
We did, however, manage to find a waterfall about 500m downstream of the main canyon, which was both free and beautiful, and you can swim to your hearts content.
The food on day 1 was functional (picnic lunch in a park and supper in our guest house), but for lunch on the second day we went to a supermarket café (believe it or not!) and had some surprisingly good food!
This little café inside the supermarket was packed with locals, and served loads of mezze type things at breakneck prices. If you arrive in Martvili, go to the north end of town and look for the green supermarket.
We had a chicken/mayo paste, a massive salad, some fried corn bread dumplings, lobio (bean stew), an aubergine and beef stew, and a delicious green dumpling of some sort, which apparently was made from some type of bean that we don’t get back home. All this clocked in at 16gel (R80 zar), for 2 people.
After all this heaviness we walked to the monastery on the hill and sat behind the monastery drinking beer and looking at the view. Needed some walking to get the lunch to settle. The monastery was lovely, and apparently for 25gel each they take you into the cellar for a wine tasting, but we don’t have that sort of money.
Supper, now, was a much more formal affair – there’s a little restaurant just outside of town called Sanapiro – they had a bunch of traditional food items which are regional specialities. Of course we went a bit overboard, but hey, we had to sample as much as possible within our budget.
Supper was fried river trout stuffed with walnuts, a fresh green salad, a plate of crispy veggies, gomi (mieliepap with cheese), another seriously cheesy fondue – like thing, boiled dumplings stuffed with cheese, more spinach pikhali (spinach balls with walnuts and garlic), and a decent glass of white wine. Not for the lactose intolerant.
All in all – our initial impressions of martvili were underwhelming, but as we became familiar with the place we realized that there is lots of beautiful nature around to explore, and we really enjoyed our time here! However, with that said, don’t do the canyon / boat ride – deffos not worth it.
Let us know if you end up here, what you ate and what your experience was!