After an early breakfast, where I ate too many of the little pancakes, we headed off to find a taxi to take us on our adventure for today. The first taxi we saw had an older driver and his price was good so we jumped in. The only issue was the taxi wouldn’t start. He seemed really nice and we gave him a few goes. Just as I was about to suggest we change taxi a police officer helped start the taxi and we were off out of Yerevan and heading to Garni.
We pass an arch on the way that offers views of Mt Ararat, but it was cloudier today than yesterday and thus vindicates our decision to do these trips in the order taken. We arrived at Garni temple and were slightly surprised by having an entrance fee. Other than museums, we’ve not paid entry to any of the places we’ve been. We’ve also thought a small entry fee would be appropriate to help look after the historical sites. We paid out 2000 AMD (~$5 AUD) and entered Garni.
Now you may be thinking, oh another monastery, but instead, Garni is a Roman temple. The temple is indeed impressive but has been rebuilt and restored, from the rubble after it collapsed in a 1679 earthquake. There were some other things on the site and the most impressive would have been the mosaic in the bathhouse. The views from here were also outstanding.
We headed off to our second destination of the day with the taxi starting the first time, much to my relief. Nearby is Geghard Monastry. What makes Geghard interesting is it has many rooms carved out of the rock. It was quite busy with tour buses, especially as its less than an hour from Yerevan. The main chapel was built in the 13th century, however a common name in Armenian monasteries “Gregory the Illuminator” founded the site in the 4th Century at a sacred spring in one of the nearby caves.
We started the short drive back to Yerevan, but we stopped for gas and our driver asked for the money. We agreed to take it out of the fare and give him the money in advance. He was really nice about it and seemed happy with the suggestion. Once the taxi was filled up with gas we were on our way again. On the outskirts of Yerevan, we stopped outside an auto shop. He said
“1 minute” and we assumed he was getting something for the taxi as he was having issues with it. He returned from the florist next door with a rose for Claire! Naturally, when we arrived in Republic square, Claire tipped him some extra cash, he was a nice guy and much better than the previous day’s guides.
The afternoon was spent wandering the History Museum of Armenia. This museum starts from the Bronze age of around 6000 BC and goes right through to the present day. It covers a lot of time, a lot of wars and we also found out that Monday is the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Armenia. That was before becoming part of the USSR and before that Armenia existed as various kingdoms dating back several thousand years. So May 28th is Armenian Republic day, in some ways it would have been interesting to be here, but in other ways, I’m glad I’m flying out Sunday as the hotel is near republic square and they’ll probably get 100,000 plus people there.
Now as its a Friday night we are winding down the evening with a glass of Armenian Brandy, a small chocolate and some lounge music in the bar. Tomorrow is Claire’s last day in Armenia and on holiday. I will continue on for another couple of weeks in the Baltic countries of Europe, which were also part of the USSR.
Isn’t that a rather incongruous Roman temple, out there by itself? Did you get to do the Armenian brandy factory tour? They offer(ed) some nice samples.
We did try Armenian brandy. It’s not my favourite tipple though. We were really busy in Yerevan as we did two trips out of city and 3 rather good museums.