It’s been a while since I have updated this blog, partly because I was in Armenia for five days, and partly because I am a little bit of a slacker and creating a post is actually kind of time consuming. Anyway, Armenia was a lot of fun, there were some beautiful sites and we had a good group of people. We arranged our trip to Yerevan (the capital city) through Envoy, a hostel in Armenia.
We left from Freedom Square in Tbilisi via taxis at 10:30 am (it would have been 9:30 if I didn’t have to take a taxi back to my house to retrieve my passport, d’oh!), and arrived at the Armenian border about an hour and a half later. The border crossing was quick, easy and cheap. Next we loaded on to a nice clean mini-bus and headed South to Yerevan. The drive took about ten hours in all, but we stopped at some incredibly scenic locations along the way.
The first stop was in Atkhtala to see a 10th-century fortified Armenian Apostolic Church and monastery, one of the best preserved in Armenia, and the only church with Georgian style frescoes.
The story goes that when the mongols invaded Armenia they got to this church but were unable to find any villagers, until they heard a baby crying from inside one of the walls. So they rolled in a cannon and shot it at the face of the mural depicting the Virgin Mary (I don’t know Mongols, but that sounds like pretty bad karma to me). After they did this they discovered that all of the townspeople had been hiding in secret passages in the walls of the church. They pulled all of them out and executed them but…
…the cannon ball came out the other end directly in the center of a cross on the exterior of the church without causing any more damage, which the people perceived as a miracle. Mongols: 1, Villagers: 1.
Next our tour guide brought us to a traditional Armenian barbecue.
Our next stop was Haghpat Monastery a UNESCO World Heritage site and a “masterpiece of religious architecture and a major center of learning in the Middle Ages.”
Yerevan at last!
On the third day we got in a cab to run an errand and somehow the cab driver convinced us to change our plans and spend the day driving around the Armenian country side with him checking out a bunch of different sites, for a good price. The impressive part was that he only spoke about twenty words of English. That didn’t stop him from attempting to explain the historical significance of every site that we came across. Definitely a character. Overall a fun day:
Overall Armenia was a good time. It was nice to get out of the Georgian bubble, and see another country. The people I met were very friendly and the food was great (lots of meat, vegetables and all sorts of dried fruit, good Cognac too). Yerevan is a more westernized, modern, cleaner city but it doesn’t have the character or history of Tbilisi in my opinion.