27 August 2008

The long awaited photo reel from my latest adventure


Hitching from Zagreb to Belgrade, at a enormous toll-station.


Istanbul. Mosque and Taksis


The rush to get onto the ferry which cross from the European side of Istanbul to the Asian side.




Istanbul



Fishing in Istanbul. Afterwards I believe they sell the fish to street vendors who cook them up there and sell them in sandwiches. Yum!!!

 

Welcome to Batumi, Georgia - where we have a fascination with water and lights and sound.
The fountains and their spurts and streams are choreographed to classical music and lights. It's strange to see something so extravagant in a place that is so poor.


Baking bread in a unique oven. He sticks the dough to the wall of this thing and then flips it over. Oh... the bread was absolutely delicious!




Interesting characters in the backstreets of Batumi, Georgia.



Georgia



The place where we stayed in Batumi. Oviously seeing us looking for accomodation of some kind, an old woman - seen walking with her back to us in the pciture - invited us to stay at her place instead. "Hotel, hotel? My place!" she said. Obviously we paid for the experience - financially and emotionally.


Georgian architecture in Georgia


"Smoke cigarettes," said the woman as she proudly showed off her one remaining tooth. "Smoking has absolutely no connection to dental health." (She spoke in Georgian, or Russian, but I imagine this is what she was saying.)

 

Life in the backstreets of Tbilisi - the capital of Georgia. Incidentally, a few weeks ago the Russians started bombing Georgia only about 80 km from there.




Scenes from the village of Kazbegi: old guys sitting around doing nothing (a common theme in Georgia); an old, old woman - with a moustache - on her way home from a day of hard labour (how many of you complain about your jobs?); the iconic Tsminda Sameba Church. We later climbed the mountain above and camped right next to the church.


We're in Armenia. Yay! Want a coffee?


 

There are many, many, MANY old churches in Armenia. Here is just one of them - and one of the most beautiful - Haghpat Monastery. We even saw a church service while we were there.


Backgammon championship in Vanadzor.


The party bus! We hitched a ride from a bus-load of police officers and their family who encouraged us to stand up and dance to traditional Armenian music while the mini-bus travelled over 100 kph.




People in the earthquake-devastated city of Gyumri. Never in my life have I experienced hospitality so great as I did there. These people have nothing but they give everything they have.



The children of Gyumri - born after the earthquake on 7th December 1988, but still undoubtedly affected by it.


The Armenian tri-color. Yay!!!



The people of Gyumri


"I'm sorry, I think you have your lines crossed!"


Earthquake... bad :(


Leaving Gyumri. Though this took us about 4 hours, because whilst taking this photo a bunch of people across the street called us over to chat. The chat became a conversation. The conversation became coffee. The coffee became a meal. I love Gyumri!


Church candles at Echmiadzin cathedral - the spiritual capital of Armenia... like the vatican of Armenia.



I found my name in Yerevan! In English and in Armenian :)


Kids of the Yerevan slums



We went to a pollitical rally where the ex-president, Levon ter Petrosyan, was giving a rousing speech. We were able to get very close to the ex-president - who also happens to have been the first president of Armenia - by showing the loose security Claudia's Journalist card and saying that I was her assistant. Claudia later told me that she couldn't find her Journalist card at that pressing moment and showed them a travel document instead. Loose security indeed.


Mount Ararat towering over Khor Virap monastery


Waiting for a bus. This guy was actually quite helpful.



Tsitsernakaberd, meaning "fortress of small swallows." It is the Armenian 1915 Genocide Memorial. In 1965 - after 24 hours of demonstrations by a million people - the USSR was kind enough to allow Armenia to build a memorial, contrary to their usual communist ideals.



Taking a break along a ridge of Mout Aragats, and chewing on long grass. It's actually quite tasty if you suck the sugary liquid from the bottom of it. I had a few and it really kept me going :)


Old ladies going into Noravank church


Old ladies selling stuff on the roadside - using a burned-out, upside-down, shell of a car for shelter (which even they made fun of... "All cars in Armenia are like this.") They were selling yellow leaves to make special, herbal tea and other leaves to use as frangrace for your car or house. We just wanted to try a little but they insisted we take it for free. She said, "Ar, aghchig" (which means, "Take it, girl!") as she forced the whole bunch onto Claudia. We almost got into a fight before they agreed to take our money.


Cows high, high on a mountain in Goris. We experienced MANY strange things in Goris. This was the least strange!


Tatev!!! We went through hell to get to this place so I HAD to get out and take a picture of the sign when we finally got there after midnight. The roads in Armenia have NO signs. None! It was a miracle we actually got there. At one stage I drove 30 km in the completely wrong direction. The road itself was the bumpiest road I have ever had the misfortune to drive on. I had a headache after an hour of driving on it - and I have a headache thinking about it now. There were times I stopped the car, stood in the middle of the deserted road, waiting for another car to pass to ask which way we turn.



Tatev monastery - the monastery built on a cliff. The journey was worth, but it really, really was a mission to get there. Good luck to anyone who decides to go.


"Welcome to Karabakh. We had a war here so please take care not to get blown up."
Travelling off the beaten track in the north of Karabakh - something I don't recommend you do. Partly because of signs like this, but more so because of what these signs mean.


The bat cave. Seriously. This is the entrance, but deep inside the bats are flying all around your head while you're slipping over in their shit in complete darkness. Scary and exhilarating at the same time.


Waiting for a bus in Shushi, Karabakh

10 comments:

  1. Wow. Nice pics which bring back many great memories of Armenia.

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  2. Thanks for the feedback. It's very much appreciated!

    ps. who is this? :)

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  3. Ara, thank you very much for being my travel's friend.
    I really enjoy this escape. It was five amazing weeks of experiences, adventure and fun.
    I will never forge it!! Cheers

    Your petite vache ;-)
    Claudia

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  4. No worries, Claudia! And thank YOU for being a great travel companion also. I really had a great time.
    Speak to you very soon,
    ara :)

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  5. How on earth did those cows get up there? I could understand if they were goats, which are usually very agile. You are having an interesting trip. Thank you for sharing your experiences and so many beautiful pictures with us.

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  6. I love the picture of Haghpat Monastery in Armenia. Simply awesome!

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  7. Wow. Nice pics which bring back many great memories of Armenia.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Brad. I'm glad you liked them. :)

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  8. it looks quite wildlife. i love the second picture best. It is attractive to me naturally.

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