Yerevan (Armenia), 09.05.2013
Second day in Armenia, second day in a row with a negative post. This place seems not made for us, and we can’t wait to move on tomorrow.
[Note: this post has been modified from its original version to avoid misunderstandings with readers that don’t know us. See also note at the bottom.]
The 9th of May in Soviet countries was and is known as Victory Day and marks the victory in WWII over Nazi Germany. This morning, when we entered the breakfast room, we were greeted by a military parade on Kremlin square streamed on TV, while the speaker announced all the glorious troops marching to the tune of military music. Not bad, 68 years after the war. Soldiers, tanks, helicopters and warplanes took all the hotel staff’s attention as we tried to make the best out of the breakfast.
We took off for some sight seeing (video here), the first stop was the Armenian Genocide Memorial. As usual, no road signs, but we’re starting to find our way also without (as long as there are no signs, continue straight on what appears to be the main road). We found the memorial, but it was closed for Victory Day. Hmmm, change of plans, since the other site on the agenda also promised to be closed.
Back into the car and off to Zvartnots, a UNESCO site and according to LP a fantastic ruin of a cathedral. Well, ruins yes, of a cathedral also seems to be true, but the place… quite disappointing. Past a ramshackle gate and an unfriendly cashier, a Soviet built alley that is falling into pieces leads from the motorway to the ruins. They were impressive though, and the 4 people singing opera tunes open air also.
Never give up! Next on the agenda was the Geghard Monastery, also a UNESCO site (video from the road here). What a difference to the previous place! This site is situated in a beautiful valley up the mountains, it is well kept and well visited,and it is an interesting combination of building and rock carved cave-church. Impressive to see, it reminded us of the caves we saw in Cappadocia.
Back in downtown Yerevan, it was quite a change. Glitzy boutiques, big cars, fancy cafés for the urbanite population. We had our first espresso in weeks. Down at the supermarket we went to buy some basics, like water, milk, chocolate etc. We were followed and screened on every move we made. It’s not easy to shop if you are constantly watched.
Then came the worst episode of our tour so far, and it is definitely taking some idealism, lightness and probably also some naive approach off our enterprise. We drove from the hotel into town for a late dinner. At the Old Yerevan restaurant we ate well, although we would have walked out of any such place back home in Europe due to the overdose in folklore decoration and music. We had parked the car on a parallel street of our restaurant, under several big street lamps and in front of some bars. When we came back we noticed something hanging from the rooftop. Someone had cut open the cover of the rooftop, cut the ropes that hold it, cut one of our bags. Nothing was missing, the car untouched. But it will be a pain to fix the cover, and it will unlikely hold the rest of the trip.
[Addition from the morning after: as our friend André rightly commented on FB, these things happen everywhere. We could have had much less luck, so we move on and make the best of today, sunshine and mountains ahead.]
[Next addition after another comment we received: we’re changing this post to be all sunshine, no critique, everything is good. We are aware that putting the URL of this site on our car advertises its content and therefore also people will read it that don’t know our background, where we come from and what we have seen so far, and therefor don’t understand the ironic twist to so many comments. We want to keep track of the transformation we undergo while we confront ourselves with situations so completely different from our normal lives and mean to be in no way offensive. We just write about what we experience on the road, good and less good. We apologize if anybody’s feelings got hurt.]
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