Sunday, July 20, 2014

Yerevan, Lake Sevan, Armenia

Last night we went to Caucasus Tavern for a traditional Armenian meal.  We started with a few hors d'oeuvres such as a variety of cheese-

3 different kinds of meat-


caviar, salmon and another kind of fish-

This plate was the most interesting:  cilantro and a bit of lettuce with a very hot pepper-

Then came the main course: dumplings-

and of course, khachapuri -

Every evening, Republic Square is the setting for fountains dancing to music-

There were a lot of people enjoying the show-

This morning our first stop is the Khor Virap Monastery.  The Pagan King Trdat III imprisoned St. Gregory the Illuminator here in a well for 12 years.  Christian women secretly fed him to keep him alive.  Later, the King went mad and St. Gregory cured him so was released.  King Trdat III became a Christian, possibly because the country was becoming Christian and St. Gregory became the first Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church.  He built many Christian churches on pagan sites.

Khor Virap Monastery with Mount Ararat in the distance-

The present church, Surp Astvatsatsin, dates from the 17th century-

The interior-

As Khor Virap is an important pilgrimage site, people often come here after a baptism or wedding to perform a matagh, (a sacrifice) usually of a chicken or goat.  Here is a group just finishing the deed-

The left over hide-

This appeared to be an anniversary celebration in the cemetery close to the monastery.  The white and red flowers are made of paper but the green leaves are fresh.

There were many fresh wreaths around this particular grave-

Continuing our Madventure, we passed through Tukh Manuk Pass.  The landscape was quite desolate-

We stopped for lunch at a lovely spot where I had tabouleh, probably the best I've ever had-

and yogourt soup - probably the worst soup I've ever had.  I guess you can't win them all! The soup had barley or maybe bulghur wheat in it.  It's a speciality here, apparently!

Next stop was Noravank, founded in 1105.  It's a masterpiece for its archictecture and location.  There are 2 churches on the site-

This is Surp Astvatsatsin Church, built in 1339, with cantilever stairs leading to the second floor-

Next to it is the smaller Surp Karapet Church built in 1227.  Apparently a piece of the True Cross, stained with Jesus' blood was here at one time-

There were tombs in the floor-

Here are 3 large khachkars (stone crosses) from the 14th century-

Travelling through the Selim pass, 7940 feet, this was the view almost from the top-

Near the top of the pass, was the Selim Caravanserai which was rebuilt in the 50s.  It's a replica of a hotel for travellers and their camels along the Silk Road during the 1300s.

This is the hotel part for the travellers-

Outside the Caravanserai, this couple was selling honey-

Back down in the valley, they were busy moving cattle-

The farmers put hay in piles by hand, and then bale the piles.  It is a very labour intensive process-

We're bush camping by Lake Sevan tonight, and then it's off to Tbilisi, Georgia tomorrow.

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