I had a bad night's sleep, waking up at 4am with my brain going into overload. Note to self, do not have coffee after midday and certainly not with vodka. We breakfasted at 8am as we were leaving Gumryi to head for Stepanavan in the Lori region of Armenia. We said our goodbyes to Grigor, who had worked all night at the hotel, and then we were on our way via the old town where we took a few snaps of the original style of architecture.
We drove straight to Stepanavan passing from a dry almost treeless area to a greener, forested region. To get there you have to go through two long tunnels - both were lit and well surfaced - we have heard of horror stories of unlit tunnels with potholes! In fact, overall the main roads have felt a lot better than on our last visit. This can't necessarily be said of the minor roads.
Finding that we didn't seem to have a booking for our hotel we ended up in Hotel Lori which is right in the centre and opposite the museum. Before setting off to visit Lori Berd, we had a cup of good
Cafe near dendropark
Weird seating arrangements probably from Soviet times.
coffee with a very nice homemade cake that we bought from the shop next door. Fuelled up we went off to the fortress which sits where three gorges meet. Very impressive site. Lori Berd is a ruin but still interesting to walk around. One of the ruins was a bath house for the queen who would have bathed in milk.
Next stop - the communist caves. The town is named after Stepan Chahoumyian, a communist who often hid out in the caves with his comrades. The walk down the gorge wasn't great for someone with mild vertigo but we made it.
From there we then headed to Dendropark - the last place on our itinerary for the day. Just outside the park is a cafe with lots of rather bizarrely themed seating areas by the river. Rod had fish - we don't know what it was but it was a river fish with orange spots. We all shared chips, barbecued vegetables made into a type of ratatouille, cue and tomato salad with bread. Such simple food but delicious. To walk it off we then drove to Dendropark which is the equivalent to an arboretum. It was a lovely
Close to Stepanavan, two dodgy revolutionaries are found in caves!
cool place to walk around. Very peaceful, too, as there were very few visitors about.
Coming back to Stephanavan, Rod and I decided to look for a cafe, particularly one with wi-fi. We searched all the main streets and we couldn't even find a cafe, let alone one with wi-fi. We were amazed that, apart from our hotel, there seemed to be nowhere else to eat or have a drink. I was beginning to feel quite glad that we were only in Stepanavan for one night. I can live without wi-fi but a nice cafe?
We have just eaten another lovely meal, carrot and rice pilaf, tomato and cucumber salad, yogurt and cheese and very nice bread similar to Ciabatta. Oh, and a bottle of very nice Armenian wine. We were told that the hotel didn't have wi-fi but Saro just spotted a wireless router. He has switched it in and boom - we're in business. We weren't quite sure when we would have access to the internet again. It's brilliant - full access (we are sitting few feet from the router)... Next stop bed.
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