Nartaa

The world famous traditional Abkhazian restaurant at the Sukhum seaside is Nartaa. Though I have to note that for traditional Abkhazian dinner it is usually not preferred by locals. It is usually the flat bread with cheese that this place is famous for, what the Abkhazians call achoaf and coming from Georgian in Russian known widely as loshadki hachapur. It is shaped like a boat.
Abkhazians also have what foreigners call Abkhazian pizza, a closed pizza like bread with cheese, so if you say in Abkhaz language you may be mistaken but if you show with your hand a boat shape they will get it. The next question will be what size you want. You have small [malinki; 0,5], middle [srednii; 1] and big [bolshoi; 1,5]. 1 is good if you are having only that or generally eat a lot, but if you will order some extras go for small.

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The best thing about Nartaa is its central place and the sea view. However, don’t go there when you are desperate to eat something immediately, as the service is very very slow.

For a drink with hachapur, i would recommend to try atarhun [tarragon] or another local Abkhazian lemonade.

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Tea is usually an option for winter but the waitresses can look like you are insulting them any season if you order one. We also made the mistake of asking for coffee for the waiting period and icecream as desert and they all arrived with the main food and we could only laugh at the situation. So dont try to be smart ordering everything at once.

If you have only one chance to have traditional food in Abkhazia you can still order some traditional food which will is detailed in another post.

Abkhazian food at Patskha Abkhazia

There are 100s of different traditional food restaurants that Abkhazians call “patskha” all through the country. However there are only a few in Ochamchyra and Tkaurchal regions due to these places being less touristic.
You can try almost the same food in each, however, there will be slight differences in preparation methods and taste.
My favorite of all the patskhas I have been to is in Sukhum, in Tour-baaza district of the city, within the garden of Abkhazia Guesthouse.
I sadly stayed in this very bad guesthouse for 2 months as it belonged to a state committee that hosted me during my first months. But my judgement is not influenced by the fact that i ate almost everynight in this patskha. I took a lot of people who complained about not enjoying Abkhazian food at all, as well as people who have never tried it and those who enjoy it anywhere, and they all ended up saying this was a wonderful experience, the food was delicious and and the prices were cheaper than most others.
In winter times you can hear a group of elderly Abkhazians singing as a prayer as they drink to the health of their friends. Children talking in Abkhaz will run around tables. In summer you are more likely to be surrounded by Russian tourists that dance with Caucasian live and dj music, laughing laudly and enjoying themselves widely.
But the real question is what to order:
*Abysta is the boiled corn maize, polenta, homney and mamaliga are widely known names for this dish. Thats your bread to eat with the rest of the food.
*Auf – Cheese, in most restaurants you will find two versions but here 3. The fresh one, the smoked one and what is called the first cheese, a village cheese direct from the milk, mixed with herbs.
*Akud – squashed spicy beans [served hot]
*achapa – this is a sticky salad, sort of like greek turkish meze style thing, contains nuts, and maize, and different vegetables. Try the assorti to try a variety.
*syzbal – is the delicious ‘plum sauce’ [ahoasa], or sometimes ‘tomato’ or ‘white sauce with nuts’ [ashkokakua], eaten together with the meat and abysta.
*akuats – smoked meat [served fried in oil and hot] in this patskha always the beef meat smoked in the patskha kitchen that you should pay a visit to photograph at your arrival.
*archu – the mixed pickles
*ayu – is wine and you can taste the house wine before ordering or order a bottled wine
The price for one should be around 350 to 550 depending on meat and wine order.

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Abkhazian honey

A lovely guest had brought me eco-honey from europe as a present. She later said that the honey here is so delicious that her choice was not a good one. Well thinking is what counts.

Abkhazia, as the rest of the Caucasus is specialised in honey production. In the national museum you can even see old beekeeping equipments.

In many Ritsa tours you visit the honey producers that explain you tricks to seperate real honey from fake honey, that is the one that have been produced in unnatural combs or with feeding sugar to the bees. But to learn that you got to come here…

The types of honey is varying by region:
Lipa – linden [my personal favorite and very good for chest problems]
Kashtan – chestnut* [increases immune system strength]
Akasia – acacia
Mayskii – may flowers [very light]
Mandarin [original]
Okhalipt – ochaliptus [hard to find real one]
Ashatui (gornii)- Mountain* [expensive]
*some of these honey should not be eaten more than a spoon a day.

You can also get honey with nuts, with special mixtures of herbs and roots that is good for healing something. If you are not sure what you are getting, please aim for simple clear honey.

Price:
0,5 l for 200 to 400 r depending on speciality

Wine tasting

Lets say you have limited time in Abkhazia, would like to take a bottle of wine with you to friends or family. Which one to buy?
Everybody will have different taste for wine. The widely suggested Abkhazian wine is Lykhny, a world winning isabella grape wine. Which is naturally aromatic and sweet. But, the Sukhum wine factory is being clever and no more producing the world winning wine in the tradional natural style, but instead using a powder imported from France – at least thats the word we hear around. However, prepared from the same local grape at Gudauta Wine Factory, Isabella is totally natural and without sugar or other additives and as divine as the once world winning Lykhny wine, maybe even more. And I know this because I tasted many wines at the wine tasting house just near the Sukhum botanic park. This place sells wines, cogniacs, chachas [grapé is the english translation for this double distillised %68-75 fruit vodka], liquors [if you are not good with very sweet drinks stay away from those].
Well, a wine that I didnt see there when I had the tastings with friends took my attention at the market place. Akhra, a dry red wine, without GMO or any additives. Well that part was what took my attention. An eco-wine from Sukhum wine factory. I later realised that this has filled up the stores in my residential neighbourhood too. Though I dont know the taste, the name and the explanation inspired me and I got a bottle that I am taking to try with my mom. Will let you know…
But, you, go and try the wines for yourself. This place also has some mountain honey and spices though they are slightly expensive.
Isabella wine 200 r [no more left in the market as Isabella grape production was very low last year]
I got Akhra wine for 160 r in the market

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How much money is enough?

After some recent travelers who came to Abkhazia thinking they could hitchike and stay with couchsurfing and life is so cheap here that you can survive on 1000 rubles for 5 days, i thought this post is necessary.
Abkhazia is a touristic region and life here is far from cheap (sadly). For a European country the prices are normal but compared to our two neighbouring countries, Georgia and Russia it is expensive.
Some basics I will try to list so that you can calculate your expected expenses properly:

You can find shared rooms and bedrooms in poor quality accommodations for around 350 rubles.
If you get a proper accommodation with a double bed and bathroom inside with all the amenities you will pay 500 rubles to 700 rubles per person, 1000 rubles per room for 2. [I will post some contacts later.]

Museums
  National Museum 100 r
  Botanic park 200 r
  The Afon cave 500 r
  The Ritsa National Park 350 r
  The Saint Simon National Park and Cave 100 r [to be confirmed]
  The rest of touristic places are usually free entry

Concerts 300 to 600 r but national day concerts are usually free

Renting a car with a driver [the other way it is not possible in Abkhazia] 3500-4500 r

Buses
Psou to Sukhum 150 r
Gal to Sukhum 200 r
Sukhum to Afon 70 r
Sukhum city buses
  [trolleybus] 5 r
  [Yellow midi buses] 10 r
  [Marshrutkas – minibuses] 15 r

Tours [prices may slightly vary by firm and according to additional pitstops in the tours decided upon participants requests on the tour, or inclusion of ticket prices etc]
Ritsa lake and waterfalls 800 r
Afon incl cave ticket 900 r
Kaman church 400 r
Merhaul water resource, Chernigovka restaurant by the waterfalls 500 r
Kindig hot waters 400 r
Ilor, Dranda, Agudzera churches [eastern churches tour] 500 r
Lyhny tour including a visit to the fish farm where there will be lunch 550 r
Otap Abriskil cave and Muk Church 800 r
Jiping [transport to higher mountains with a jeep] icl. 7km hiking to and back Mzy [Mzaa] lake 1500 r
Jiping to Kodor Valley and Amzara 1500 r
Jiping to Amtkal river and Merhaul 1500 r
Jiping and hiking to 7 lakes [3km hiking] 2000 r
Rafting 1700 r
Abkhazian dinner with Abkhazian dances and music as a tour 1100 r
Horse riding near Sukhum 350 r for the transfer 250 r for horse riding

Bread costs 18 to 20 r
Lavash, a very delicious big flat bread, 25 r
Water 200ml 25 to 50 r
            5l 50 to 70 r
Milk [house] 3l for about 130 r

Abkhazian cheese around 1,5kg for 300-500 r

Coffee [Turkish] 15 -20 r
Tea [pot] 70-120 r
Abkhazian lemonades 50-80 r

In the shops:
Abkhazian Tea bags [black and green] of 20 for 27 to 50 r
Abkhazian tea [100g] 80 to 120 r
Abkhazian lemonades [Nart, Tarhun, Mohito-lime, Pear, Cherry] 35 to 50 r
Pasta [packet of 0,5kg] 35 -40 r
Grechka [buckwheat packet of 0,9kg] 45-50 r
Rice [0,9kg] 70-100 r
Oil [regional produce] 75-100 r

Eating in a traditional patskha restaurant 350 r to 750 r per person depending on inclusion of wine

Cake in a cafe 80-150 r

Eating loshadki hachapur in world famous ‘Nartaa’ 100 r [should check]

Eating cigborek in world famous ‘At Rubiks’ 45 r per one

Visa related

Please check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Abkhazia website for official information. Below information is just an effort to respond to travelers’ questions about practical issues.

AbkhazianVisa

1- If you need a visa to Abkhazia apply online at least 5 working days before
2- Have your confirmation letter printed to hand-in at the border
3- If you are entering from Psou border, make sure you have a right to go back to Russia, eg. multi or double entry visa if you need one
4- If you are entering from Ingur border (Georgia), make sure you are going to be there at opening times as this border has limited opening hours
5- Upon your arrival within 3 working days you have to visit the Consular Service at their address Saharova 33 (no more in the MFA building on Lakoba). This visa office is within the building of Repatratsia [easier to find it if you ask a local person like this as many people don’t know the street names].
6- The visa cost should be paid in cash in rubles to the Consular Service. If you dont have rubles there is an exchange office on Ayayra street (old prospekt Mira) 1 min from the building. There is also a cash machine that accepts visa cards just opposite the exchange office as well as in other streets within a 10 minute walking radius.
7- Your visa will be printed as a separate sheet of paper and will not be sticked on your passport.
8- Your passport will never be stamped by Abkhazian border control, or the Russian border control on Psou border. The Russian Federation stamps the immigration cards that are handed at your entrance to the country and taken away during your exit from Russia. During re-entry from Abkhazia you will receive a new immigration card (thats why you need a valid re-entry documentation) which will be stamped with your entry date and will submit this at your final exit from Russia or Belarus.
9- You are suggested to enter and exit from the same border! Though cases of entry from Ingur and exit from Psou will not receive sanctions during current travel, this may cause further issues if you go back to Georgia in the future.