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Published: September 27th 2012
The Mirhav hotel
A lovely place to stay in Goris
Another leisurely start with the usual breakfast of bread, sour cream, apricot preserve, cheese and boiled egg. In addition we had cake which we decided to take to have with our first coffee of the day. The Mirhav Hotel is tastefully decorated with comfortable rooms with friendly staff. Shame we were there for only one night.
We started by going to see Goris old town which was a series of caves just on the edge of the new town. Saro drove us around the sights of Goris before heading off to Khonderesk - the cave village. I went there on my last visit but Rod hadn't been there before. The road to Khonderesk is pretty bumpy - no change there. What is new is a suspension bridge which crosses the gorge and takes visitors straight to the caves. It's hard to believe that people lived in these caves up to 40 odd years ago. Home comforts would have been few and far between. It was good going over the bridge as it meant I saw some different caves and some massive, colourful snails. A family crossed over the bridge just after us dragging their screaming and reluctant children with them.
The Mirhav hotel
My favourite hotel -
I'm sure I would have been the same at their age. There was a woman collecting walnuts by beating the branches with sticks to knock them to the ground. I imagine she was collecting them to sell The grinding poverty here means that people have to try and make ends meet in whatever way they can.
We had a coffee made with spring water at the little cafe back at the top. The women who work there look after the picnic area where families come at weekends to have get togethers - there are barbecues and a seating for large groups.
After Khonderesk we were on our way to Nagarno Karabagh, or Artsakh as it is known by residents and Armenia. It's a country which is only recognised by itself and Armenia. It is under martial law and when you obtain a visa you have to state where you are going and you mustn't stray from your itinerary. You also have to stick to well known areas and pathways because of mines.
Like Armenia, Artsakh is mountainous and has spectacular scenery. Our first stop was the border to register our entry and then off to our first
Peoplel were living here up to about 50 years ago.
destination, Shushi. The town was badly damaged during the war in 1992 and is slowly recovering. All the Azeris who lived here have fled and their mosques and bombed houses are the only indication that they lived here. We had a quick visit to the church and then to another amazing gorge!
We were staying in Stepanakert, the capital, which sits in a valley very close to Shushi. We are staying at the Heghnar Hotel for three nights instead of our usual one nighters. Quite nice not having to pack up each day for a change.
The hotel wasn't serving food so we went to the Russian cafe and had some dishes that we have never had before, including a rather delicious pâté. We made the mistake of ordering two portions of fries so, not for the first time, we were completely stuffed. Again, we were eating after 4pm so there was no chance we were going to eat again that day.
We decided to go back to the hotel for some downtime before hitting the town for a beer or two.
In the evening we went out to a cafe and had a beer. Everyone
The new bridge across the valley
else around us was having coffee or ice-cream - we were the only ones drinking. Lots of smoking though - its rare to meet an Armenian that doesn't - Saro is quite an exception. The tobacco industry must love them.
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