Sunday, December 24, 2017

Tbilisi to Yerevan

According to the map the road distance from Tbilisi to Yerevan is 301km and 5:45 driving time.  And that proved pretty accurate, as we left the city at 9:00am and we were at our hotel by 16:00pm.  In the middle we visited some UNESCO listed monasteries

We had arranged a car transfer between the two cities with a tourist agency and it worked perfectly, allowing us to see a couple sights we wanted to see along the way, that would have not been possible with public transport.

Once we had left Tbilisi we saw road-side stall, after stall, selling autumn fruit and produce.  One local oddity was that often the stalls also sold washing powder and detergents.  Time and again, it would be that classic combination: fruit and washing power.

After crossing into Armenia we headed into the mountains.  The landscape was unusual in that there were deep canyons with very flat cultivated land at the top.



We stopped at Haghpat Monastery.  It was Sunday and mass was being performed.  The colour of the church garments, the choral singing, and the local with headscarves on added to the atmosphere.  An operational church in a building that was 1st established in 976AD




From here there were clear views of a Copper mine belching out emissions.  All through this valley there were derelict factories and signs of investments abandoned.  There were plenty of people living in towns and Soviet style apartment blocks, but not huge amounts of places to actually work.  Our driver said most men in the past went to Russia to find work. 





The second monastery was Sanahin, which is of a similar style and age, but not functioning the same as Haghpat.



and here the floors had engraved floor stones

From here we got back onto the main roads for the drive down to the capital.  Along the way some of the areas seemed pretty bleak,  Looking at the map later, this was the edge of area hit by the devastating earthquake of 1988 when 25-50,000 people died and 130,000 were injured.  There were many herds of sheep/goats being moved by a lone herder.  The herders fell into two main categories - a young person simultaneously checking their phone or a stooped over, elderly person.

As we passed the highest point, with Mt Agarats in the distance, the temperature dropped significantly (in Yerevan it was warmer again)  

The only traffic incident we had on the trip was near the city where a wedding party of cars were doing strange manoeuvres while driving.  They were clumping together, surrounding the bridal car forcing other drivers (including our car) to have to do some slightly hairy moves to get past them and back to normal.

Andrew captured some great pictures of the typical ovens and the bread therein




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