Our first, and we hope last, rainy day
23.09.2012 - 23.09.2012
Despite going to bed quite late, I woke up at 6am and couldn't get back to sleep. I hate it when that happens. I tried to make the most of my time and so I got up, showered and spent a bit of time updating the blog which is quite a time consuming business. The uploading of photos is particularly slow especially as I am also trying to rename them as well.
Breakfast was at 9am so once we were all up we sat outside on the balcony where the view across the valley is fantastic. It was starting to warm up and I could feel the sun on my back. Anoush.
Our first trip was to Matosavank which is close to Rasmik's place but up quite a steep climb. My legs were feeling a bit tired from the day before - old age kicking in. The monastery is very old and made out of huge blocks of stone. It must have really been a labour of love getting them up the hill. Some poor donkey had to pull a heavy cart up, probably.
On the other side of the valley we walked to Jukhtakvank churches. Jukhtak means twins because there are two of them - however they aren't identical. One was damaged by a landslide but has been rebuilt and protected by a metal structure like a metal girdle.
It started to rain while we were up there. Rod said that the last time he was in Armenia it rained only once and it happened to be in Dilijian. Saro found another snake so that's 3 in total!
We bought ice cream had then had coffee with the ice cream at Rasmik's then we set off to our next destination, Goris. The road from Dilijian to the Sevan pass is a very long road with lots and lots of hair pin bends. At the side of the road there are lots of people selling sweet corn. We didn't stop last time we were here so I really wanted to try it this time. The corn is boiled, not barbecued and is then put in salt water before serving with a bit more salt. Delicious.
We were running out of gas so had to go back down to Dilijian to fill up. Close to the gas station, the heavens opened up and it really started to pour. Going back up the hill we also started to go through the clouds making it difficult to see. Finally, at the top, the road goes through a long tunnel and bingo, on the other side there was no rain just sun.
We decided to stop at Sevan for lunch as it was getting late. Also Marina had decided to leave us at that point as she had friends that she could travel back to Yerevan with.
Lake Sevan is a huge lake and is a popular destination in the summer, making up for the lack of coast. It used to be bigger but the Soviets had some scheme which made the water level go down. The monastery Sevananank used to be on a small island but now people can just walk up to it. We had a very nice meal but service was very slow. Marina's friends arrived and so she went off back to Yerevan and we carried on towards Goris which was still quite a drive away. We were meant to be fitting in some sightseeing but we looked at our itinerary and have rearranged it slightly and crossed off things that Rod and I have already seen. I want to go on the cable car to Tatev but the day we are meant to go there, it's closed for maintenance, so we will do it at the end of the week instead of tomorrow.
We made one sightseeing stop - the Selim caravanserai. The view from there down to the Selim pass is probably one of the most spectacular views I've seen in Armenia. This is certainly one stop you wouldn't tire off. As we approached the caravanserai, we could see a little minibus ahead of us and realised it was our old friends the French walkers who we had danced with at Haghpat and also seen at Lastiver. I'm sure that won't be the last time we seem them, either.
It was starting to get dark so gradually we could see less and less. One thing we could see was lightening in the distance. I was hoping we wouldn't get caught in a storm. We stopped briefly to fill with gas again and have a drink. I remember this place from my last visit as it had and still has, the smelliest toilet ever. The road was very busy with traffic coming in the opposite direction to us, many of them Iranian lorries. We kept looking out for wildlife and were rewarded with the sight of a fox crossing the road. I'm surprised that the noise of the traffic didn't frighten it off.
Finally we arrived on the outskirts of Goris - we started to hit fog again. Luckily Saro knows the road really well. When we reached the Mirahv hotel it was gone 9pm so we went to freshen up ready for dinner at 9.30. We had a special pilaf made with rice, apricots, raisins and fried lavash, a bean dish that was like ful medames - very large brown beans that are a speciality of Goris with salad and yogurt. Another nice red, too. After eating I did a bit more photo uploading until I was too tired to focus! Time for bed.