In Armenia we were unfortunately much shorter than it would have been appropriate, because we liked the country very much, and of the few days we spent half of it in a great Bed&Breakfast with pool and view into the valley. We were tired and really needed a few days of relaxation. The trip to the south of Armenia was cancelled for that.
But even so we got to know some nice places. People anyway.
The first is Alawerdi, a small town in the north where two of the three engineers of the Russian MiG grew up. There is a MiG museum which unfortunately was closed. But the MiG on display in the courtyard together with some steles and busts alone was worth the visit. Very impressive and nicely done. Only a few meters (and altitude) further on there is also an old but well preserved monastery where we roamed around for a long time.
Armenia remains in our memory above all the land of churches and monasteries. As one of the oldest Christian countries, the wealth of churches is almost wasteful, many small villages have beautiful orthodox monasteries. The furnishings are not comparable to the splendor of some western churches, but rather discreet, but probably just because of that impressive.
Also the cemeteries, which are often located behind the monasteries, are remarkable for our western influenced taste. Often there are pictures of the deceased on the gravestones, sometimes there are references to their death, as in the case of a family of four, where all had the same date of death and where a large car was depicted in the background. We had already seen something similar in Georgia: a gravestone at the side of the road with the heads of two young men, next to it a big BMW with all details including license plate. The two must have been very proud of their car.
We leave Alawerdi, we are drawn towards the capital. On the other hand, the temperatures are so high that city life doesn’t seem very attractive to us, so we decide to make a compromise: a Bed&Breakfast in the bacon belt of Yerewan to relax, for a visit to the capital we don’t have to sweat in our motorcycle gear, but can take a cab. No sooner said than done. But we like the 3G so much that we extend the planned 2 nights to 3 and later to 5 nights. The owners are super nice, the pool is clean and beautiful, an oasis to relax and get some rest. We also meet some other travelers there. Silke and Jan come from Iran and wait for the exchange engine for Silke’s motorcycle, Norbert enjoys the peace and quiet, Laura and Michel belong to the German Embassy and escape the big city heat over the weekend. We meet at the pool and enjoy plundering the cherry trees, which are overflowing with ripe fruit.
A few days later we visit the capital and take the opportunity to meet Laura and Michel again. We also have to go to the FedEx office in order to send our passports to Germany, since we have decided in the meantime to make it to Mongolia by autumn after all. So we need visas for Russia. A visa agency in Germany will take care of the details and send the passports to Kyrgyzstan later on, where we can pick them up before continuing our journey to Russia.
We like Yerewan very much. A modern city, many banks, many coffee stores. And similar to Tbilisi in Georgia, they have a huge female statue on one of the surrounding hills: The Mother of Armenia. Very martial, a tank exhibition on the forecourt completes the picture. The amusement park next door then turns this part of the city into a complete meeting place for families on weekends. By the way, the amusement park has its very own charm: fountains, various rides, including a Ferris wheel, everything a bit old-fashioned and run-down, but much visited and the atmosphere is exuberant. In the evening we want to see the “singing fountains”, but unfortunately they are probably closed for the day; at least we enjoy a nice place with a water basin and a Mediterranean-looking evening atmosphere.
At some point we leave our beloved oasis and make our way to Mount Ararat. We want to camp and enjoy the sunrise at the monastery Chor Virap – in the background the snow-covered mountain. A nice sight – and because of the early morning rise in the morning, we are also back on the motorcycles early enough: very handy when the thermometer shows clearly above 30°C again in the afternoon.
We drive past the beautiful Norawank Monastery to Lake Sevan.
In between we pass Norbert, who we already know from 3G, and have lunch together. The somewhat remote restaurant has a nice view of the lake and some wind. We also hope to have such a nice view of the lake from our next hotel on the Sevan peninsula; unfortunately this turns out to be a tourist stronghold, which we don’t like that much. However, our hostel is located below the (inevitable) monastery – and while looking for a good photo spot I discover a small path leading up to the monastery. Although I thought I had seen enough monasteries, I can’t resist and climb up. The crowds have mostly moved away and so I enjoy unexpected silence in the monastery garden with a breathtaking view over the lake. So the ascent was really worth it.
The next day we cross the border into Georgia, visit another walnut farm and then head for Azerbaijan, our next stop, country 18 on our journey. But we will definitely return to Armenia.