We originally planned to visit Armenia in the Easter break however when we heard a group of teachers were going to take advantage of the extended weekend due to woman’s day (which is a massive celebration is this part of the world) we thought why not. We will now have the chance to celebrate Easter Georgian style, which we are both looking forward to.
We met up with the group (nine of us) who would be travelling to Yerevan via night train in Tbilisi on Wednesday. We had some time before the train left to meet the people we did not know and find out where in Georgia they have been teaching and living. It was quite interesting to hear everyone’s stories. Within the group there were people teaching in cities, towns and villages. All of our experiences are very similar yet very different.
The night train was a new experience for most of us. We piled into third class and had no idea where our beds were. We found an empty bay of four beds and squeezed in until our spots were shown to us later in the trip. The train was very cramped and was probably half
filled with produce, which we found both hilarious and nutritious.
While we passed the time chatting waiting for the Armenian border I took out the bottle of cha cha our host family had insisted we take as well as all the food and with such a large group it was finished in no time. As we reached the border the train ushers told us there were two spots in second class available. The group were very kind and offered it to us, I guess as we were the default couple. After the border crossing where we had to obtain visas we moved into second class. Second class had the same beds as third but we were in a private room and had better smelling toilets. The other two people in the room turned out to be English teachers also so it was interesting to hear about their stories before falling asleep in what was a suffocatingly hot room.
We arrived in Yerevan at 7am and made our way to the hostel which had a great view of Mt. Ararat. After some breakfast (Mikaela found peanut butter which she was happy about) we headed out to explore Yerevan. We
made our way to the Cascade, a giant stairway and open air art gallery. The stairway links the downtown Kentron area of Yerevan with the Monument neighbourhood. We walked the many stairs to see Mother Armenia and climb onboard a SovietUnion tank from WW2 for some very mature photos. From above the tank we spotted a fair ground and decided to go on a few rides, as it was women’s day we didn’t have to pay which was the icing of the top. Later we walked around republic square.
The following day we planned to visit the Coniac Factory and the Genocide Museum both of which were closed. This was extremely disappointing and may result in another trip to Armenia later in the year. We were able to take a few photos of the Genocide Monument which was bitter sweet. We spent the remainder of the day looking for the covered markets which we did not find, however, along the way we did see the Saint Grigor Lusavorich Church, the Blue Mosque and Mikaela even fitted in some speed shopping.
On our last day in Armenia we did a day tour out of Yerevan to see some of
Soviet tank used in WW2
the surrounding sites. The tour included Garni Temple, The Monastery
of Geghard which was amazing, being partially carved out of the adjacent mountain and surrounded by cliffs, this was definitely a highlight. Lastly we visited Lake Sevan and the surrounding churches. The lake is the largest lake in Armenia
and the Caucasus
region and is one of the largest high-altitude lakes in the world. Following a massive day of sigh seeing we attended the” Don Quixote” ballet at the Opera House which cost all of about $7 and was a lovely night.
That evening was spent moving from bed to toilet as we had acquired gastro from what we suspect was the Yerevan water we had consumed earlier that night.
After a sleepless night and still feeling like rubbish we decided to get up early and catch the 8am Marshrutka back to Tbilisi thinking that this may be a shorter route with less traffic at the boarders. As we were leaving we found Julia had decided on the same plan of action so the three of us made our way to the Marshrutka station and found that Dan from Cairns had also decided to catch the same ride.
The 8am Marshrutka actually left at 9am as it waited until the entire vehicle was full. The six hour journey back to Tbilisi was rough as the roads were horrible and dangerous in parts. Mikaela spent the entire trip clutching at a plastic bag and did well not to give the Marshrutka a makeover. Once back in Tbilisi we took another three hour Marshruka back to our village where we collapsed but not before drinking two litres of wine with our host father.
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