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Day Eleven - excursion from Yerevan

Thursday 10 June 2010

sunny 90 °F

After a day yesterday without Saro, we were now back on the road with him on a planned half-day excursion westwards from the City out past the tacky casinos, Zvartnots Airport and a stretch of road where all the shops seem to sell furniture which sits out on the pavement rather than in the shop. Our destination is Sardarapat, a monument that marks the victory of Armenian troops over the Turks in May 1918. The victory led to the declaration of an independent Armenia in May 28, 1918. It was very quiet when we arrived with just a few cars parked in the car park. The monument is pretty impressive with a huge 35' structure with bells hanging from it and flanked on either side by Assyrian bulls carved out of Tuff. Apparently each year on May 28th its a focus for celebration with folk dancers and singers & a time when the bells are rung. Between the monument and the museum there is a long walk through well-kept gardens. It was an incredibly hot day and there was no shade the whole way. We were flagging by the time we got to the museum and needed a bottle of water to rehydrate.

The museum was pretty big with one exhibition about the battle and a lot of displays illustrating life in the Arax valley. I was impressed with the large silk screen prints that had been made by school children - they were beautifully made. Very skilful. After making our way back to the car, we had one more stop to make. Saro had to ask a few people about our destination - it wasn't obvious how to get there. The road took us past more fish ponds similar to the ones we passed through the Ararat Valley so again we saw quite a lot of storks nesting on telegraph poles etc. We finally reached the museum of Metsamor (which means Black Swamp) another building made from red tuff. This time we were the only visitors to the tiny museum. It sits on top of a mound which is apparently the site of a Bronze Age settlement. We had a look around the museum and were taken down to the basement where it was like Fort Knox. The room there had amazing gold jewellery and a weight in the form of a tiny frog made from onyx and agate. The staff there don't speak any english but Saro translated for us. They were obviously very proud of their collection. Once we were out of the museum we had a short stroll around the site. The most notable thing to see is a series of phalluses side by side increasing in height (or should I say length). Les and I had seen these on a postcard which has the view of Metsamor nuclear power station in the distance. Very scenic!

It was back to Yerevan and after a rest at our homestay, we decided to go out to see the fountains in Republic Square. We took advantage of the Marriott's close proximity and had our evening meal there for a change so we could view the fountains as we ate. I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I'd heard that the fountains danced to music with a light show and thought it would probably be a bit pathetic like the ones we have in the centre of Bristol. Was I surprised! The fountains were amazing and drew a massive crowd made up of families who seemed to be having a ball. Eat your heart out Bristol City Council, wasn't this what we were meant to have? You should be able to see a short clip of the water and light show somewhere on this blog.

We enjoyed it so much, after we had eaten, we went to join the rest of the crowd to sit next to the water for a closer view and to dip our toes in . We noticed no-one else did this. If it was Bristol everyone would be up to their knees together with foam and god knows what else. The music they were playing sounded suspiciously like a track that Oscar likes to use for his Fit and Funky class at the Dance Centre - classics with a 4/4 beat!

Eventually we tore ourselves away to go back to our accommodation for a cup of tea and a bedtime read.

Posted by Cath_Greig 04:53 Archived in Armenia

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