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Published: October 4th 2012
Wednesday 3 October 2012
We'd arranged to meet Hasmik at 9am - early for Armenian standards - to go for a swim and sauna at the Business Centre Health club. We got there but found that it was closed for maintenance. A bit disappointing but we had a coffee in the cafe before deciding to go to the best place to buy good Armenian coffee. This was a metro ride away to the end of the line in the north of the city. Again, it is so good to have someone to advise us. I also bought a Jazzve - the coffee pot used to make Armenian coffee. It's different from the one I have at home and slightly bigger. We also popped into Grand Candy - Armenian's main sweet outlet. I managed to come out without buying anything despite the temptation to get some nice dark chocolate.
When we got back to the metro station near our flat, we parted with Hasmik and went back to have lunch - leftovers from the day before. Not only are the 'parkies' or as Rod likes to call them - nosy parkers - an endless source of fascination, we are also amazed by the traffic police. They seem to pull people over for no reason at all. We wonder if they supplement their salary with bribes. Their cars have a distinctive horn sound which is followed by a megaphone announcement telling someone to stop. One day within about ten minutes we saw at least 6 cars beating stopped. However, this doesn't seem to improve the standard of driving seen on the roads here.
So far we have taxied and gone on the metro but there was no chance we were ever going to go on the Marashutka - small minibuses, that are equivalent to our buses. They are usually so overcrowded, you can see a people's body parts sticking out of the windows. Rod refuses to go on one!
After lunch Saro picked us up and we drove out of Yerevan to visit Garni and Geghard. Rod and I had a both visited them before but as Geghard is my favourite monastery, we decided to go again. It was nice getting out of the city for a while. In less than 30 minutes we were back in the countryside and the joys of cows, sheep and wild dogs roaming around in the middle of the road. The drive goes through an area that has suffered from landslides. Some of the houses have been abandoned because they have almost split in two. A lot of people were selling their produce at the roadside. For some people this will be their main source of income.
We went to Geghard first. What I love about it, is the church that has been carved into the rock. I just cannot imagine how they went about doing it. It's an amazing feat. One of the spaces has the most amazing acoustics. It would be great to hear a choir singing in there.
Next stop, Garni. This is the only Graeco-Roman style building in the whole of Armenia. It sits atop a beautiful gorge with great views over to the Khosrov Reserve. We drove down to the bottom of the gorge and saw the most amazing basalt rock formations. One is called the rock symphony where the water runs down the columns. Beautiful. Another time it would be great to cross over the river and go for a walk in the reserve. How amazing to walk somewhere that has no roads and consequently, no cars.
Coming back to Yerevan we had some pottering time before going out with Marina and Saro for dinner. I went to buy some postcards and also managed too pick up a programme for High Fest, the performing arts festival for children and young people. The State puppet theatre is round the corner from our flat where a lot of the events are taking place. Bit more culture to get under our belt.
The Club was our destination for the evening. Les and I had been there on our last visit. It is also a bookstore and gift shop. It was heaving in there but they have another space, accessed via the kitchen. A ver popular joint. The menu is a bit nouveau cuisine. Rod and I shared a Seven colour plate which consisted of hummus, babaganoush, stuffed vine leaves, mussels (which I didn't eat), tabbouleh, stuffed mushrooms and yogurt. A mezze presented beautifully on a long wooden stand. Marina and Saro shared hummus and a salad and we all finished our meal with sorbet. Again, nicely presented but the three little balls of sorbet in a narrow glass, soon melted in the heat.
After our meal, Rod and I decided to stroll back and so we said our farewells a outside the Club. Yerevan is a very pleasant city to stroll around in the evening. We arrived home, set ourselves up with a shot of vodka and sat on the balcony watching the heavens open to see our first bit of rain since Dilijian. We were hoping that it would help to clear some of the dust out of the air and lead to a fresher start the next morning.
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