Wednesday, 25 September 2019

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We leave Yerevan today and its back on the treadmill.  Woken up by the alarm, breakfasted and in the lobby on time.  It was a heavy day with two cathedrals and a monastery before lunch then a long drive to Gyumri (the second city of Armenia).  Fortunately, the first cathedral was a ruin, having been destroyed by an earthquake and the second was presently closed and undergoing some building work.  The first ruin, called Zvartnots, was in a very photogenic position with Mt Ararat in the background.  The monastery was similarly picturesque as it was perched photogenically on the edge of a deep gorge.

Clive has perfected the art of travel by road in Armenia – he sleeps, waking occasionally to survey the view, which doesn’t change a great deal.

Gyumri is a bit grim looking as the local building stone is a black tufa stone.  Not only that but the town was flattened by a bad earthquake in 1988 so one has to make allowances.  Gyumri was supposed to be noted for its houses having picturesque wooden balconies but we must have been on the wrong street because we only saw one of very little architectural merit.

We are staying at the Berlin Art Hotel which is very nice and proper in the Germanic way – single duvets folded the proper way (across the bed), plumpy pillows, a neat wood pile out in the garden.  The hotel manager must also be the honorary consul of Germany in Gyumri (according to the sign out the front).  The building was built by the Berlin Red Cross and is attached to a small outpatients hospital for women and children.  This will be very handy if the “Gastro” makes a delayed appearance.  It reminds us of our stay in the accommodation wing of the Stavanger hospital in Norway in 2009.

Tomorrow we head North to the border with Georgia then via a big loop up through Georgia to the nearest open border crossing with Turkey then back South the same distance to Kars which, if borders were open, would be about a half hour drive West of Gyumri.

Lunch and dinner at the hotel are interesting as they are “on request”.  You ask “What do you have?” and they have to go and get the “cooker” to come with a translator to tell you what the possibilities are.  For lunch we had some dolmas and chicken with rice and for dinner we had pork with potatoes.

© Cheryl & Clive Miller 2019-20