27 July 2008

Armenia... finally!!!

And so we finally arrived in Armenia, but of course not without a heap of adventure along the way. I'm never going to have time to explain everything in detail, as we rarely find internet, let alone having the time to use it. So here's a brief run-down of what's happened since Batumi:

We got the overnight train from Batumi to Tbilisi, spending the night in a sleeper for 4 people with 2 other women and their 4 children. So EIGHT people in a sleeper for four. Though they offered us some guilt food as an apology for the constant crying through the night.

Tbilisi was interesting. Like Batumi, loads of contrast between the rich and [mostly] poor areas. Houses falling down and roads with massive craters in the middle of them, and then lavish foutains, light-shows and beautiful architecture on the other side of town. Everyone kept telling us how wonderful Georgian hospitality was but everyone we met was really freakin rude. Where was all this friendliness?

The next day we got a marshruyka - a overpacked mini-bus 2.5 hours to a small, tiny village called Kazbegi - well-known for the iconic church on the 2,200 metre mountain. On our way up the mountain with our heavy, heavy packs we saw some guys gathered around a make-shift table, preparing a cauldron and only just beginning to skin a freshly killed lamb. "Tired?" they yelled out and called us over. They insisted we sit down and join them for their feast of boiled lamb & georgian bread, cheese and wine - LOADS of wine. Every time they wanted a drink they would fill their cups to the brim, make a serious toast and then finish the cup in one gulp, expecting us to do the same. Though Claudia and I insisted in taking little sips. A couple of hours later we finished out climb and camped by the Church on top of the mountain, happy that we finally experienced the Georgian hospitality :)

The next day we got another marshrutka to Armenia. It was enroute to Yerevan (6 hours) and the driver wanted about 30 euro for the pair of us. We wanted to go to a small village called Kobayr to check out the ruins of a convent and managed to negotiate it down to 12 euro for the 3-hour journey - it was ALL the Georgian money we had left. The driver just said, "Give me what you have," though we stashed a couple of bucks in out pockets to buy water and toilet entry.

We were dropped off on the side of the road in Gyumri where 3 Armenian guys were sitting and eating. Hearing that I was an Armenian from Australia they immediately called us over and inisited we join them for dinner - filling our plates without even asking if we were hungry or not. They were from Yerevan, the capital, and exchanged details for us to meet them when we head over. And if I read his ID card correctly, one of them happened to be the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia.

Last night we camped next to Sanahin Church, and today we met some people there who took us to Haghpats Church and then organised a free ride for us to Vanadzor - which used to be called Girovagan - which is where we are now. We plan to head to a place called Gyumri today, but let's see.

Of course there was not one place where something wierd, freaky, exciting or scandalous didn't happened, but I must log-off and head on while there is still light.

I'll try to update on the village scandal we uncovered in Kobayr, but no time at the moment. Love to you all!

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous03:22

    wahay! You made it, but did you make it in time for the concert?
    As always your blogs are colourful reading and I can see you're havin a whale of a time......most of the time, however, I agree with your mum.....you shouldn't have hitchhiked!!
    I'm fine and gradually slotting myself back into the rat race. Weather at the moment is absolutely fab so no need to go away to roast oneself!
    By the way just checked in someone called Eser Belik from Oz but goin to JFK, do you know him? I thought he maybe a cousin of yours, he looked a lot like you haha!
    Take care
    Rosie x

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  2. Anonymous03:49

    holy crap!
    that was me!
    now im trying to remember the lass who checked me in.....hmmmmm
    Eser

    p.s. new york was awesome.

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  3. haha... that's hilarious, Eser.
    By the sounds of it you're a very good looking guy! :)
    I'll email Rosie and tell her about you! haha

    The "small world" phenomenon continues.

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  4. Anonymous03:43

    Hi guys, nice blog, on summer 2010 we have been in Armenia, together with my family. I will never forget That small town of Armenia, "Dilijan", its a touristic location, we have been advised by armenia info centere to visit Dilijan and other places too.
    The trip started with a taxi from a main bus station in Yerevan, I loved the long way to Dilijan, crossing many villages till we reach.
    upon arrival we had a short tour in the city center, nothing much to see or explore, then we have asked a local taxi driver to advise us with a hotel.
    We have been introduced to Dili Villa B&B, which recently I found their services in the internet www.dilitours.de
    This B&B services was very poor, very standard, nothing spoecial, the price is not corresponding to their services. small old furnished rooms,
    not very clean, we avoided using the toilet all the time. We visited the 2 most popular monastries in Dilijan, two museums, and had a walk around the old city.
    The best was the weather, the fresh air and the forests around. I also loved the mountains view from the hostel we stayed with a cup of tea
    infront of the window. A good place for mountain climbing, and eco tourism.
    In General Armenia is an active developing country that we liked, We recommend Armenia for tourists.

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