Abkhazia is a homeland of my ancestors. In the beginning of the 20th century my mother’s grandfather came to Rize which is an Eastern Black Sea town in the North East of Turkey.
Abkhazia was part of the Soviet Union and after Perestroika it was separated from Russia together with Georgia. Then after a while Abkhazians decided to gain their freedom and there was a bloody war during 1992 and 1993 between Abkhazians and Georgians. After Abkhazia became independent the border with Georgia was closed. To this day the border is still closed and it is not possible to access Abkhazia through Georgia or go to Georgia from Abkhazia. It is also not possible to access Abkhazia with a direct flight from anywhere. So anybody who wants to go there should normally go to Russia first. Sochi is the closest important town in Russia where there is an airport, a sea port and a good connection of railways to the rest of Russia. After about one hour’s drive from Sochi one reaches the Abkhazian border. The borderline between Russia and Abkhazia is a river and there are two bridges to cross the border – one for pedestrians and one for vehicles.
The Botanical Gardens in Sukhumi, Ritsa Lake, Men’s monastery are some of the places well worth the visit. There are many unique plants and the cleanest rivers in the world, fresh fruits and vegetables growing abundantly and the local food is delicious. It is thought to be one of the reasons why people live very long in Abkhazia. I know an Abkhazian who lives in Turkey whose grandfather died at the age of 126 years. Some believe one factor for the longevity of Abkhazians is the sun which hits the land from a special angle. They say this is the secret behind the deliciousness of organic fruits and vegetables growing there and consequently people who eat them live longer.
When I was in Abkhazia I met some people in Sukhumi who are probably my mother’s relatives. As their family name is very similar to my mother’s family name and they are running a nice hotel in the capital, Sukhumi. The Ritsa hotel.
The hotel is an old building from Soviet times and we became very good friends with this group in a short time. Please take a look at the picture where we are seated together in a big armchair. I am sure you would enjoy meeting Abkhazians who are well known for their hospitality.
There is a legend about Abkhazians’ hospitality that goes like this. Once upon a time when the God was distributing the land to all nations of the world they all came to him one by one and got their pieces of land. But Abkhazian man did not come. The God had finished distributing the lands and was about to leave when Abkhazian man came running. He also asked for his piece of land. The God said, ‘But where were you? I have already distributed all the land. There is none left. You should have come earlier.’ The Abkhazian replied, ‘I had a guest and so I could not come on time.’ Then God said, ‘Oh, in that case, although I had spared the last piece of land for myself, I am now going to give it to you.’ And so he gave that land to Abkhazia as he appreciated their hospitality very much.