July 9, 2015 – Today went pretty well. I woke up feeling much better. No stomach ache, no gastrointestinal problems. Amazing! I took a couple more charcoal tablets and kept drinking that hideous liter of rehydration salts…so disgusting. But it worked. I had some crackers for breakfast and waited to see if it would be ok. Seemed to be. Then I took a walk in town and still seemed ok. So I decided to go for a half day trip to see Garni temple and Geghard monastery, the two main sights I wanted to see from yesterday’s missed day trip. It took some effort, but it was worth it.
First I had to walk over to the KFC, and catch a bus to a place called Masivi Market. So I told the driver where I was going, thinking he would tell me when to get off, like they usually do. But no. Eventually I asked someone near me, and she said we already passed it. Excellent. So I asked the driver and he stopped and let me off and told me to get on the next bus going the other way. He did not charge me. I crossed the street
and the bus came immediately, so that was good. I didn’t even see a bus stop, so I’m glad he stopped. I told him where I was going, and he nodded. I asked another passenger a few stops later, and they said we were there now. Geez – almost missed it again! But there are no announced stops, so it would be impossible to guess. And you couldn’t see a market from the bus. An interesting thing about this bus is that you pay when you get off. So most people get on towards the back and make their way forward at the end to pay. Or get off in the back if it is too crowded, and then walk to the front to give the money to the driver. Or more likely, the guy standing next to the driver, because it is so crowded, who passes it over. Why not just pay when you get on and be done with it? This bus cost about 20 cents, and it was a 30 min ride (if I had done it right the first time).
From there I had to take a minibus to Garni. But I had to find
the minibus. So I asked an old lady and she kept explaining all the details to me in Armenian, with an old guy helping out and constantly tapping me on the arm. But I got the gist and walked where they said and eventually found the bus. The minibuses are the ones that only leave when full, but I didn’t have to wait long. Minibuses have no stops, just routes, and you can ask to be let out anytime. I told him where I was going and knew he would stop there. The woman next to me made sure I knew how much to pay and where to go when I got off. In Armenian, but I got it. This bus was about the same amount of time, I think, and cost about 50 cents.
Did I mention everything here in Armenia is crazy cheap? I wish I could have eaten more here. Shame to get sick on the first meal. No one else I’ve met has gotten sick, so it was just bad luck, not the normal situation here. And there are so many fruits to buy that are grown locally and are super cheap and delicious, from
what everyone said. One woman bought a kilo of cherries and maid less than $1! And she also bought plums, peaches, another variety of cherries, watermelon, and maybe more, and paid a total of $4. And she has a family of 5 here. Amazing. I will try to get some in Georgia when I get back. It just didn’t work out for me here.
Anyway, on my walk to the temple, a taxi driver asked if I wanted a ride to Geghard monastery. I told him I did, and that I’d go to Garni first, and then come back. He quoted me the right price and I knew this was the only way to get there, so it was perfect. The temple at Garni is from the first century AD, and is not that large, but cool to look at. It also had some church ruins and Roman bath ruins as well. I stayed there for about 30 minutes.
Then I took my taxi ride to Geghard. The ride cost about $6 including waiting time and return trip. Geghard monastery was founded in the 4th
century AD, but the current buildings are from the 1200s. Some are built
into the cave wall. It’s a pretty cool place. No one here seemed too bothered about dress code, despite the sign to the contrary. I did cover my shorts with my sarong, but find it such a nuisance. I stayed here about an hour walking around, taking pictures. I really liked it. It was the place on the tour yesterday I was most sad to miss, so was glad I had an opportunity to see it.
My taxi driver was just where he said he would be, and he asked if I wanted to go to another specific place, but I declined. He also said he could drive me back to the place where I had to get the bus, so bypassing the minibus. This would also have saved time. He wanted $6. The minibus was 50 cents. Being who I am, the minibus won out. But I was in luck. The taxi driver was a good man, and saw the minibus in front of us, getting ready to stop. So he pulled in front, I got out and got in the crowded, hotter minibus. But no waiting! Yay! It was already on the way. Made it back to
the place where I catch the bus home, and it came within 5 minutes. Fortunate that I had made the mistake earlier, so I knew where the bus stop was.
Got home and went to buy rice and water, and trade in the rest of my Armenian dram for Euros (for Cyprus). The day trip only came to about $9, including the entry fee for Garni ($2). Monastery was free. Amazing. I even ate the rice I made and still feel good 5 hours later. It’s a good day.
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