Armenia


Mostly barren land at around 2000 m altitude in Armenia.


2. July 2016. Border crossing seems to be forgotten by God. On the Armenian side you must make an effort to find the outpost where they will put in the passport stamp. Roads in Armenia look slightly better than in Georgia, at least they are trying to patch the holes. But poverty appears to be somewhat higher. I move around 2000 m all the time, the landscape is bare and slightly wavy, passes are long, straight and not too steep, just as descends, in short quite favorable conditions. At the end of the day, before Vanadzor, I find refuge in a resort, where I get accommodation in a little house on two floors and a great dinner with cheese, salad, pork shashlik and spicy sauce. Thank God, the Armenians just as Georgians appreciate good food. Beside the house there is a dog on a chain, but he too mostly lies in his cabin and meditates. When I arrived he barked a bit, but we soon got used to each other. His situation looks considerably more pitifully than mine, his freedom is limited to two-meter chain, unlike me, who can move freely. But freedom is mainly in the head and it looks like the dog has cleared everything in his own long ago.

 

Seller of cooked corn.
There was not much more to Yerevan. After Gyumri and Vanadzor there is another pass at 1900 m, then incredibly long descent to Dilijan, along the river where fumes from the grill fill the air at every 100 m. Armenians are obviously great gourmets and picnics lovers, and today is Sunday which promises a great party. After Dilijan I again climb over 2100 meters. The rain caught me, I wait out the greatest downpour under the umbrella of one of the many vendors of cooked corn, which were spread along the ascent, then I continue on the wet road and in extremely pleasant circumstances I reach the tunnel at the top. What difference is to easily ride up the hill in the freshness after the rain or to sweat under the scorching sun! On the other side of the tunnel it was like I entered into different movie: clear sky, the road is dry and smooth and leads down to the Sevan Lake. It's a big lake, long about 75 km at an altitude of 1900 m is a true Armenian Riviera, there's as much people here as on Copacabana, security guards struggle to control the chaos of vehicles, thick smoke and smells fly from the grills, clarinet, accordion and tarabuka are playing oriental rhythms, water scooters are chasing on the lake and above them the screaming gulls. In short, an incredible party. 


Lake Sevan has a sea feel.
Sunday lunch at Lake Sevan.
From Sevan to Yerevan it is about 80 km along the main four-lane highway, so the last day of serious riding passed in the 1000 m drop to the capital city of Armenia.  On the hilltop before Yerevan the view opens down to the endless city, which initially seems unmanageable. Through the summer haze you can have a glimpse of the snowy mass of Ararat (5165 m), where Noah's Ark ran aground and thus launched a new colonization of the world. I descended into the valley, and there in the southern suburbs of Erebuni, I found a great hotel, where I base myself for the next four days. That represents a base for day trips to the city center and a little further, to some Armenian sights, mostly religious in nature: the monastery of Khor Virap and Geghard and the ancient Greek temple in Garni.

Beach at Lake Sevan.
Lake Sevan.

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