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Published: June 21st 2017
Geo: 40.1596, 44.509
As you may have seen from the quick upload I did this morning of Mount Ararat it dawned clear and sunny and it stayed sunny enough and I was in- and - out of the car and then found I had walked 15 minutes in the sun and the factor 30 was back in the car, result - stupidly, a bit of sunburn.
It stayed clear long enough to get some more pics of Ararat, first as we drove up to 2000 metres on the southern slope of Mount aragat (pay attention now, don't confuse your Ararat with your Aragat, there's a mount ara as well) to see a Fort and a church.
On the way up Gregor said he could hear a funny noise from the car, I walked alongside while he drove slowly and their was a screech from the front wheels which I guessed might be a stone in a disc so he promptly decided to take the front wheels off, it's his car, not the company's, so he is a bit precious about it.
While he did that I wandered up the road and was stunned by the peace and quiet, all I could hear
was skylarks, ascending and descending, and the distant sound of sheep.
The wheel on and off business did the trick so we were off again to see the Amberd fortress and church. This construction is 12th century, it replaced the 7th century fortifications. Important in disputes with seljuk turks, byzantime empire and mongols, abandoned in 1408. The church dates back to 1026.
Then on to see two monasteries, Saghmosavank and Hovhannavank, both built on the edge of a gorge about five kilometers apart.
At the first one, after looking round, we found a large group of women, all women I think except for two priests, having a picnic on the grass. They were Armenian and invited us to join their picnic, having enough food for the proverbial 5000. So I had kebab, cold, wrapped in flat bread, boiled egg, tomatoes and cucumber and a huge glass of home made yogurt that was served out of an outsize tub. Then they summoned their singer to take us into the church and do an impromptu concert, church music of course. Just remarkable. It turned out they were with their priest on a one day tour of churches and monasteries, the other priest
belonged to the church we were at.
On to the second monastery, bigger and older, one part having been built in the 5th century. Many of these churches have been badly damaged by the earthquakes that strike the area and been restored often with money from the diaspora - big in USA and Italy it seems.
Finally back to Yerevan to visit the Armenian Genocide centre and museum. Massacred by the Turks in the 1915 to 1918 period, though the turks deny genocide. Armenia takes this seriously, huge monument, free entry, free English speaking guide and translator, walls engraved with the names of all the places where massacres took place, eternal flame, memorial trees planted by the great and the good like Pope Paul, jacques chirac, baroness Cox - the Brits di not put on a good show at the time of the massacre. This is all burnt deep into the armenian psyche and it's a sobering place to visit.
Hoping to get to a classical concert tonight that I saw advertised, can't beat a bit of culture. But I'll brave the hotel dining room first - it's rather like a furniture display, lots of tables and chairs but few
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