Tskaltubo was a popular spa resort, famous for its healing mineral waters and radon bath treatments. The first sanatoriums with in-patient facilities were built in 1925 and in 1931 Tskaltubo was designated as a spa resort by the Soviet government. Under the communist regime, a spa break was a prescribed, and mostly compulsory, annual respite, as the “right to rest” was inscribed in the Russian constitution. A visit to the doctors could result in being dispatched to somewhere like Lithuania or Georgia where spa towns were renowned for the healing properties of their mineral waters. It was one of Stalin’s favourite vacation spots.
During WWII, the hotels were used as hospitals but after the war, their popularity increased and by the 1980s Tskaltubo was one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the Soviet Union. Georgia’s independence in 1991 and the fall of the Soviet Union in late December 1991, signalled the collapse of Tskaltubo’s spa industry. Without guests, most of the hotels and resorts were forced to close their doors. Today many of them are home to refugees who fled the conflict in Abkhazia in 92/93 and needed to be rehoused. This one however has been fenced off and remains empty behind a fence with 24 hour security patrols. Apparently it was bought by a local millionaire who has plans to turn it into a luxury hotel although those plans appear to have stalled.
I was a bit nervous about this one as we'd seen security the night before and they looked like regular police. The signs on the fence suggested they were 'security police' and their website claims they operate under the control of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia. We very nearly had a run in with one of them patrolling but managed to make a quick getaway thankfully. I really enjoyed it in here. We'd not seen any internal pictures so it was a proper treat to discover what was inside. The theatre was absolutely stunning. Visited with Elliot5200 on what was a great trip to a fascinating country!
Thanks for looking.
The train in question is the Eurostar 373018, one of many Eurostar Class 373 trains that started operating in 1994. Capable of speeds up to 186 mph, the Class 373s were specifically designed to transport passengers between London, Paris, and Brussels via the Channel Tunnel.
Since 2016, however, many 373s have been withdrawn or scrapped, despite just 22 or 23 years in service. Eurostar 373018 is officially in storage, but the word “abandoned” seems more appropriate.
Branches from nearby trees now reach out and touch its windows. Weeds rise up from the rusting tracks on which it sits. Graffiti covers what were once the clean lines of the train’s streamlined form. It looks like the kind of place where Rick Grimes would butcher a bunch of zombies, or where Mad Max would go shopping if he wanted to buy a train.
What the future holds for this high-speed train is anyone’s guess. So far, 18 of the 373 Class trains have been sent to be scrapped by European Metal Recycling (EMR) at Kingsbury in the West Midlands region of England. Others have been scrapped in France, three have ended up in museums or colleges, and some lucky 373s have been refurbished and remain in service.
Eurostar 373018, however, remains in “storage” in the north of France, a fine nesting place for birds, an interesting canvas for graffiti artists, and an intriguing landmark for train enthusiasts, eagle-eyed users of Google Earth, and urban explorers like AdcaZz whose video exploration of the train you can check out on YouTube.
And if you’re wondering why these 373s were abandoned and not reused elsewhere, well, it seems like a few factors were in play. Technology had simply moved on, leaving these 22-year-old trains out of date. It was also more cost efficient to bring in a modern fleet rather than overhaul these existing trains, especially as the replacements had a greater seating capacity, meaning more money over less time. In the end, therefore, many of the 373s were deemed “life-expired.”