Abkhazia – Impressions of a break-away state [Photos]

My name is Jan Fjornes, I am 22 years old, German.
I study political science and economics, write in my free time.
before I started studying I did internships in 
radiostations and newspapers and worked as an editor for some time. 
the last six months i lived in Tbilisi, Georgia for doing a semester abroad. 
after the semester ended I traveled to Armenia and Georgia 
including Karabakh and Abkhazia.

Day #1 – Reaching Sukhumi – First city walk

As I was already used to from my time in other parts of the Caucasus Region, the mashrutka driver at some point asked me for the number of my guesthouse to find out, where to drop me off. After he had a telephone conversation that I didn’t understand and a couple of minutes driving, I was somewhere in Sukhumi with nothing more than my backpack and the directions ”left, then straight”. I turned left and a blonde guy, round about my age came towards me. ”Jan?”, Sergej, the guy the driver had talked to was coming from the market to pick me up ”because the way is actually not as easy as it seems”, he explained. The house was indeed a bit hard to find. On the way he explained that it actually wasn’t a hostel, but his family’s dacha which had some spare rooms. He showed me my room and lead me to the outside kitchen, where his mother and head of the house – Natalia – awaited us. ”Strastvutie”, she welcomed me and was just about making breakfast. It was 10 a.m. after all, although I felt like it was at least mid-day already.

After a very long breakfast together with the whole family and a short rest, I got ready for visiting the capital. I walked around its wide streets and long promenade. Sukhumi made a strange impression on me. Quite a lot of tourists walked along the promenade with its chic cafés, beach bars, and souvenir shops. The smell of sea water, perfume and sun screen climbed in my nose as I reached one of the more crowded places around an archway. All in all it seemed like the typical riviera life of a sea resort. With one unusual feature. Despite all the tourists, it still felt empty in a way. The beach was full of empty sun loungers, the promenade full of empty shops, only some cafés and bars were really busy. And that was the vibrant part of the city. When I went one steet away from that, the sensation of emptiness grew even stronger. Abandoned, war or post-war demolished houses. No tourists. In some streets no people at all, yet it was still in the city center. In every street was at least one house that was not in use any more and in every part of the center there was at least one entire street that was seemingly not in use anymore. I made my way to the bazaar and wanted to get some food. ”Bsirov ba”, I tried the Abkhazian greeting. ”Strastvutie“, I got as a reply. That was not the only time I got that reaction. Which was weird for me, since I normally would get a smile or a reply on the same tongue whenever I tried saying hello in local language anywhere else.

© Jan Fjornes