Friday 11 June 2010
11.06.2010 - 11.06.2010 90 °F
Another half day excursion - this time we ventured eastwards from Yerevan towards the Geghard gorge and the monastery that clings to the side. The road we took has been subject to landslides over the years so there were times when Saro had to steer around buckled tarmac. One house we passed had virtually been split in two as a result of the earth moving. Despite the dodgy road, the journey was certainly worth it because as we got close to the monastery and it came into view, it looked pretty spectacular. I think this had to be my favourite monastery so far, the setting was absolutely beautiful with a fast running river close by. The buildings were not only external, much of the monastery is carved into the rock. One room was so massive, with four straight columns, it was hard to imagine how they had managed to carve it out with such accuracy. The water in Geghard is meant to be really good so we took advantage to have a good drink from the spring. There were some school children throwing stones up at one of the walls. I was wondering why no-one was telling them off when Saro explained that if a stone is thrown at the wall and gets stuck in one of the crevices, it will bring luck to the person who has thrown it. We crossed the river to look at one of the caves and met some of the school children who tried to practice their english on us!
Apparently there are about 20 chapels hewn out of the rocks on this site. We scrabbled up to a few of them but soon it was time to get back on the road for our final destination of the day. Outside the monastery there were a lot of women who were selling their wares which were mostly gat (cake) or sheets made from dried fruit. We bought some sheets made from apricots and a string of walnuts covered in a sort of glaze.
Our next stop was another building next to a gorge - Garni temple - the only Graeco-Roman-style building in Armenia. It's been well restored after it was destroyed in an earthquake in 1679. It stands on a piece of land that juts out on the bend of the river that we could see far below. We had some great views up and down the gorge. As we walked up to the temple I thought there was some recorded music playing but it was in reality some traditional singers with lovely voices who I think I might have managed to record.
After this we travelled back to Yerevan and we decided to go back to the Congress for a lazy afternoon by the pool. On our way we bumped into our Belgian friends who we had met back a week before at Razmik's homestay. They were enjoying a coffee in the Marriott so we decided to have a drink with them and hear how they had got on with their trip to Georgia. We then made our way to the Congress which was quite close by. The staff there seemed to recognise us which was very welcoming. It was turning into yet another really hot day and I had to keep getting into the shade as I could feel the sun scorching my flesh. It was lovely being able to relax, catch up with a bit of reading and float about the pool to cool down. We stayed there as long as possible but eventually as the sun started to go down we headed off to eat before spending a bit of time by the fountains. It was then time to get back to the homestay to have a good rest as the next day we were spending a day with Anahit's sister Hasmik.