Armenia

October 20th: We splurged and took a tour to transport us from Tbilisi, Georgia to Yerevan, Armenia. It included stopping at three monasteries, a BBQ lunch spread, and a stop at an Armenian bakery. The tour was well worth the cost (70 CAD per person)! It was a really enjoyable way to travel.

The first stop was at the Akhtala Monastery. The church was built in the 13th century and has many of its original frescoes preserved.

20181020_130715
Inside the church at Akhtala.
20181020_122617
Our guide told us the copper statue of the rings with the pomegranate on top is to symbolize the friendship between Georgia and Armenia.
20181020_122422
Akhtala is rich in copper and rich in copper mines.

Our second stop as at the Haghpat Monastery. It is in a beautiful location overlooking the Debed River and Canyon. We somehow managed to leave without any nice pictures. The pictures we did get were of Les crawling across a wall with a bunch of teenagers. Apparently if you can shuffle across this ledge, using only your fingers for support, your wish will come true. I only made it about a meter. Les made it and everyone clapped 🙂

20181020_134114
The buildings were all built with basalt – lots of vesicular finger holds!

Next stop was a BBQ lunch! It was a huge spread of BBQ’d pork, grilled veggies, homemade yogurt, salads, potatoes, fruit, baked goods, and more. It was prepared and hosted by a woman who works at the monastery. She had a beautiful property, with chickens, geese, cats, and a healthy looking garden.

20181020_135356
So much food!!!

From there we carried on the Sanahin Monastery. It’s oldest structure dates back to the 10th century and in its prime it was renowned for its school of calligraphers and its medical school.

20181020_154737

20181020_160129_HDR

From Sanahin, we drove to Yerevan with a stop at a bakery along the way. The tour dropped us off at Envoy Hostel, where we had reservations. It was so easy!

October 21st: Turns out, our timing in Yerevan was perfect: Sunday, October 21st was the 2800th anniversary celebration for the city! We met up with Jan, a Belgium we met on the tour the previous day. He also quit his job to go traveling for a chunk of time, so we had stuff in common straight off the bat.

20181021-WA0000

20181021-WA0002
I love Les’s face.

 

We walked up to the Armenian Genocide Memorial complex. The museum was closed due to the celebrations but the monument, eternal flame, and tree garden were still accessible.

20181021_160357_HDR

20181021-WA0003

From there, we made our way downtown to meet up with a local Couch Surfer, Davit. He showed us around downtown and to various stages that were set up for the celebrations. We saw traditional dances, jazz music, rock/pop music, a DJ, and fireworks. Davit showed us how to dance like an Armenian but Jan, Les, and I are clumsy dancers so it didn’t take.

20181021-WA0015

20181022-WA0027

 

20181021_190447
We found this confusing – North American First Nation dress, South American music, at “Place de France”, in Yerevan. I’m not sure how this celebrates 2800 but it was neat to see.
20181021_193835
We saw this at the Cafesjian Center for the Arts – a piece by Yue Minjun, the same artist who made “A-maze-ing Laughter” (the laughing men in English Bay, Vancouver).
20181021_214938
The fireworks were so close that the ash and embers were raining down on us!
20181021_215235
A huge stage was set up in Republic Square.

October 22nd: We met up with Jan and Davit at Davit’s university. He wanted to play basketball. The three of us were hesitant at first. I don’t remember the last time I’ve played basketball, elementary school? Plus it was warm in the gym. But it was instantly fun. For me at least 🙂

20181022_143440

Davit took us around Yerevan and showed us Saint Gregory The Illuminator Cathedral, Vernissage (an open-air market), and Republic Square. He had to leave us then to do homework 😦

20181022_165452
Saint Gregory The Illuminator Cathedral (the largest Armenian cathedral) with a statue of Zoravar Andranik in the foreground. Andranik was a military commander who was instrumental in keeping the southern portion of Armenia from Azerbaijan.

20181023-WA0000

20181022_165610

20181022-WA0007
Perfecting our Instagram poses at Republic Square.

October 23rd: Les was very sick. He’d started to feel sickly the night before and then woke up leaking from every hole in his face. We were planning to check out other parts of Armenia but decided to extend our stay in Yerevan so that he could get better. Instead of hanging out in our Air BnB with Les all day, I opted to check out two historic sites just outside of Yerevan with Jan.

Our first stop was the Temple of Garni, a Greco-Roman colonnaded temple, overlooking the ravine of the Azat River and the Gegham Mountains. It was probably built in the 1st century!

20181023_122720_HDR
Temple of Garni

20181023_123022

Our next stop was 20 minutes down the road at the Geghard Monastery. To be honest, I had thought I might have been monastery-ied out at this point but this one was super cool! Many of the churches and tombs have been cut out of the rock face. It is crazy to think of how much work was involved in “negative-space” construction.

20181023_132744_HDR

20181023_133747

20181023_134447
One of the churches carved out of the rock.

20181023_135041

20181023_135236_HDR

After this, Jan and I headed back to Yerevan. I stopped and picked up food for Les and found him on the couch with Kleenex stuffed up his nose like a walrus.

October 24th and 25th: We took it easy to let Les rest. We did internet-y things, went out to find some Neo-citron for him, went out for pizza, and watched The Simpsons. This allowed us time to do some research on our next plan. We had originally planned to explore the southern portion of Armenia but after checking weather conditions in Mestia (NW Georgia), we decided to book it to the mountains to catch the last of the nice weather!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s