The perfect setting
04.06.2010 - 04.06.2010 85 °F
After a leisurely breakfast we set off to see the first of two monasteries - Hagartsin. We are finding the later starts in the morning very agreeable. The pace of life here is slower, probably because of the heat, and we are trying to match it. The Belgian people were leaving as they were hoping to get to Georgia if their driver could sort out a visa. The journey was interrupted by cows in the road as we made our way up a wooded valley. We passed an out of order chair lift - a lot of things from the Soviet era don't work anymore. Hagartsin is being renovated after a donation from a middle eastern shah - not sure which. We were allowed to walk through the building works - something we would never be allowed to do in UK. Health and Safety seemed to be a bit slack. After this we went to Goshavank - another beautiful setting close to a small village. We sat in the new hotel having a cold drink as the temperatures started to rise. Luckily its dry heat here, not humid so far so we are able to cope - just. 85F in the car.
We had a quick visit to the centre of Dilijian but there was nothing there to particularly grab us. The boating lake had no boats so that was disappointing. We had our lunch at the Gatep Complex nearby. We had our own private table by the river - this arrangement seems to be quite common - separate places dotted around where people can eat.
When we got back to Razmik's place we had our usual after 5pm rest - reading and generally lazing around. We had decided to walk up to the nearby monastery Jukhtakvank. By 6.30pm it had cooled down a lot so we made our way up the hill. We passed several abandoned sanitariums from the Soviet era. Again, there was something rather sinister about these places just left to fall apart slowly. Along the road there were picnic places where a large family had gathered to have an evening bbq. The long table was groaning with food - very impressive. There are lots of picnic places dotted around in Armenia - particularly close to rivers where its cooler. They usually consist of a table and benches that have a cover over them to shade them from the sun. A great idea.
Along the way we saw a horse, then a boy wandering in the woods and suddenly the boy was riding the horse bareback through the trees. It was pleasant having a stroll in the evening - coming back to our homestay we could really appreciate how beautiful Razmik's home is. Ginny and Arthur were already eating their food when we got back but we joined them for a beer before having our evening meal which was fantastic as ever. Saro has gone vegetarian, too so we shared some very special dishes. I would love to be able to collect these recipes - this may be my retirement project but I will have to learn Armenian first. Three English women arrived as we were eating. We got talking to them as the evening progressed - they were good fun. They were all retired civil servants who had worked together for years, one being the former DG of the H&S executive. High powered indeed. They wanted to follow the Silk route but because they couldn't go to Iran or Azerbajian, they had settled on Armenia. Their driver had a Lada 4x4 which kept shedding bits on the way. This is no surprise as some of the roads are diabolical! The road to Razmik's was the worst so far. The women were particularly impressed with how their driver could smoke, talk on the phone whilst driving on roads with hairpin bends and sheer drops. We are pleased that Saro doesn't smoke!