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Published: September 18th 2012
12 hours of sleep and I was beginning to feel human again. I no longer had the feeling that my head would explode. A late start with a leisurely breakfast at 9am was just what was called for. The Berlin hotel is a really peaceful hotel with nice outside areas to sit in and friendly staff.
First visit of the day was to Jrapi Caravanserai. It is not complete like the one at Selim but somehow, seeing the ruin helped us to see how the place was constructed -bit like those models biology teachers use. We could see where the animals slept and even holes drilled into the stone where they could be tethered. There was also an interesting church close to the Caravanserai which has been rebuilt using tree trunks as supporting pillars instead of stone.
Then off to Ani railway station. This is no longer used even though the trains pass through. If it was england or france someone would have bought it up and renovated it. The line was built to link Tiblisi in Georgia and Kars in turkey during the soviet time. Not sure how far you can travel on it now.
station we visited Anipemza. This cathedral, which no longer has a roof, is apparently quite an unusual design with a door at the back to go in and side doors as exits. In Armenian churches you aren't meant to turn your back ion the altar so the side entrances help worshippers to have a more dignified exit. The church is about 100 feet from the Turkish border, a rather ramshackle fence is what separates the two countries.
There is an archaelogical dig going on in the graveyard at the side of the church. They turned out to be a group from French universities giving Rod a chance to use his French. We could see where they had excavated and found skeletons including children.
And then it was back to Gumryi for lunch. We decided to eat at the hotel - something that I wouldn't normally do in England as hotel food at home is usually rubbish. This,on the other hand, was delicious with salads, cheese, pilaf, yogurt and bread followed by coffee.
In the afternoon we decided to visit Marmashen monastery which was originally planned for the next day. The monastery is in a lovely setting in
the valley . Apparently it doesn't normally have many visitors because of the poor road conditions - but today was an exception as there were several groups of visitors.
On the way back we passed large unfinished buildings that looked like a ghost town. Apparently they were built by the soviets and because they weren't earthquake proof, no- one could live in them so they lie empty. And there are lots of them. What a waste.
Once we got back to the hotel, my brother and I went for a short stroll around the market, admiring the fruit, particularly the watermelon and figs.
In the evening we met Allegra, a friend of my niece who is working for birthright Armenia. We plumped for the Georgian restaurant but I must say, it was not the best meal I have ever eaten. And the service wasn't brilliant either but we still had a nice time. There were a group of old guys on a nearby table getting louder and louder as they polished off a bottle of vodka.
After eating we went to a bar for drinks. I had vodka and Armenian coffee - not together - Rod
had coffee and Armenian cognac while Saro and Allegra modestly drank herb tea. We then walked Allegra back - although Armenia is generally a safe country, outside Yerevan it's not safe for young women to walk by themselves.
Back at the hotel we decided against a nightcap and went straight to bed.
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