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Published: February 24th 2015
These holidays are only a week long, and I have the feeling that it is impressive to see how much we could discover in a single week. So next stop, new country, we are for two days in Armenia.
The train ride from Tbilisi to Yerevan takes 11 hours...for 280km only. There are only 4 cars, and in winter, it runs only one day out of two. I paid 30usd per person, so it is not the cheapest way to join the two capitals....but let's admit it, we love train rides! The train left and arrived on time, and we spent something like 2 or 3 hours just to cross the border in the middle of the night! The train was old, but it was pretty clean and comfortable...and we had the feeling there was close to nobody else beside us on this night ride.
Made it at 7am in Yerevan...it's pitch black...the streets are empty....I know, this is called the middle of winter! Little challenge...obviously nobody speak English...the currency exchange office only open at 9am...and the taxi drivers are more than ready to cheat you. But we finally made it on the metro by
7.30 am to reach the center of the city, Republic Square metro station. Impressive to see that on a Friday, the city is still deeply asleep just before 8am!
Heavy program for us today, with some wonderful moments. But first, what I would have loved to see, and that we didn't. The Genocide Museum is closed for renovation till April 2015...it has been closed for a while, and the Genocide Memorial is far away from the city center. So just for that, I'll have to come back. Never forget that from 1915, the Turks murdered more than 1.5 millions people...never forget...
Next, I would have loved to attend a ballet, or even a concert or an opera. Sadly, there are things on the program the day before we arrived, and the night after we are leaving...but nothing on this Friday night. That is for what I would have loved to see....but didn't!
We arrived early morning at Envoy Hostel. Same one as in Tbilisi. A little more guests here, but the same amazing welcome...clean and nice place! Just after breakfast, we had two other girls joining us in a taxi to
visit the Pagan Temple of Garni, and next the Monastrey of Geghard. Geghard is hosting the metal part of the spear the killed Jesus, but we didn't see it. The Monastery is a pretty amazing place, built in the mountain, and actually most of it is carved into the rocks of the mountain....beautiful!
By lunch time we were back in town to walk the street of Yerevan. The place is way more wealthy that Tbilisi....the contrast is impressive...and huge. I wouldn't call Yerevan center a beautiful place....but it seems efficient, and business is clearly booming all around. The city must also been one of the biggest consumer of make-up in the world. I never saw so much make-up in broad day light...trust me, it's not an attractive feature at all!
At 3pm, we had an appointment to visit the Ararat Brandy Factory. They had to stop using the name Cognac around 1909! Stalin presented a bottle of "Dvin" to Churchill at Yalta...and it seems Churchill was so impressed that Stalin kept sending him 300 bottles every year. If it's good enough for Stalin, it must be good enough for me. Ararat is by far
the most serious brandy brand in Armenia, today own by the French group Pernod Ricard, aka Martell!
I love Cognac and I had the chance in the past to stay in Cognac and properly learn about the process. We had our own guide, and the poor girl was on the grill....I think what is normally a 20 minutes visit went well over an hour. Leslie loves chemistry...isn't this a little bit of chemistry? Our guide had to admit at the end of the tour, this was truly a first for her! I had the opportunity to taste a 10 years old, a 20 years old and their Dvin brand...pretty nice!
The day was nearly over...after having bought some wine in Georgia....this time it was time to pick up...guess...some brandy, plus also some caviar...had to do it!
Our last evening in the Caucusus...so also our last Caucasus meal...another one of those amazing meals. Do not ask me about the night life in Yerevan...priority was rather Tiffany & Leslie!
Next morning, we took a shared taxi all the way back to Tbilisi to take our plane back home. The 5
to 6 hours drive in the Mercedes mini-van is 17usd per person..for 280km of amazing roads. Sadly, the windows of the car were not that clean...but that drive in the mountains was just beautiful. We also drove right next to Azerbaijan....without seeing the border. The two countries are still officially at war!
This was it for a great week of discoveries....next stop for me after home, I'm back to Africa for few weeks...and in April, the next big holidays for Tiffany and Leslie. Next trip is one that I should never had taken with them, but that we are still going to do...because it has to be done...before they become full time adults!
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