Goris 2 Gyumri

There have been more than a few moments when I wonder ‘is my will up to date?’

Drivers fly around hairpin curves and inclines, passing using a unofficial middle lane, using whatever side of the road has the least potholes, while checking their phone…

View of Mount Ararat on my way from Yerevan to Goris.

Some parts of the road were excellent, other parts under active construction with really rough alternative paths.

Then there was this strange cut through Azerbaijan. And knowing that they are fighting over Karabakh, which isn’t far away…

But totally non eventful. And no sign of a border.

I made it to Goris in less than four hours. It was spectacular scenery with green mountains, snow capped mountains and all those winding roads.

Of course, if I’m that concerned about my mortality, why did I choose to be 320 metres over a gorge in a cable car!

But check out the hairpin road!

Wings of Tatev Aerial Tramway is a 5.7 km cableway between Halidzor and the Tatev Monastery. It holds the record for the longest non-stop double track cable car.

Tatev Monastery dates back to the 9th century.

It is the oldest and most famous monastery complexes in Armenia.

During medieval times it was a vital scholastic and spiritual centre.

I just sat on a bench and looked out over the mountains. It was so peaceful.

8 m Pendulous Column (902 AD) is a unique medieval structure with a special pivoting base which allowed it to tilt as a result of seismic tremors.

It worked as an early warning system for earthquakes and approaching armies.

For the invading armies, they could start heating the oil.

They had an oil press building just outside the walls as it was regularly used by everyone to press a variety of seed oils for cooking.

The grinder was pulled by an oxen.

Oil could be poured from the ramparts.

Monasteries are always in spectacular settings, because they wanted steep gorges or cliffs to limit the exposure to invaders.

I arrived on the first cable car in the morning, so almost had the place to myself for an hour until tour buses started arriving from Yerevan. Not everyone arrives by the tram.

Then I found a lovely garden spot for lunch.

Khashlama – lamb shank stew with potato, onion and tomato. Simple but delicious. 2900 dram with bread (Cdn$10)

I was staying in Goris, about 30 minutes from the tram station.

It’s a small city with a central square.

Goris is a twin city to Vienne, France who has provided much support to Goris. As well as an Eiffel Tower.

Goris is a tourist destination, and France and the European Bank are contributing huge amounts to increase infrastructure.

And it’s a bit of ‘it’s going to get worse before it gets better’ as they replace the roads downtown.

This fellow got hung up and needed help!

There is a river that flows through town. The town is quite long and skinny as it lies in the river area.

The weather was no more than 20oC, and with the clear skies it was beautiful to walk along the river and listen to the water and birds. A nice escape from the city.

Houses are rock, whether they are 19th century or new.

I started walking out of town trying to get better views of pinnacle rock formations.

An interesting house that was a hybrid of pinnacle, rock and wood balcony.

Open-air auto body.

Buying the local SIM for a phone number needed for ride-hailing has earned the cost. $10 for a month for all its features was cheaper than $15 for a day of roaming. I had to call my bank to straighten something out, and they wouldn’t do it in chat.

Zhingyalov hats (‘hats’ is bread) are a local specialty from an area close to here. They are a dry-fried flatbread stuffed with seasonal greens like dill, parsley, cilantro, spring onions and others I didn’t identify.

The same greens showed up daily at my breakfast. At the lavash tasting, they showed the greens and cheese rolled into a small piece of lavash to make an ‘Armenian sandwich’

Chicken Chakhokhbibi was originally made with pheasant. And I was lucky to get it, after my first six choices weren’t available.

It was mainly onion and peppers with tomato.

Flour delivery at a bakery

Then it was back to Yerevan for a day on my way to Gyumri.

The young woman at Tourist Information arranged a shared taxi for me (and asked for the front seat). I have no idea how the communication works but I said I wanted 09:30 in two days, and there were two others with me.

The driver picked us up and dropped us off where we wanted. For 5000 dram (Cdn$17.50) instead of 32,000 (Cdn$112). For 4 hours on a often bad road.

I was in Yerevan long enough to eat and walk around.

Manti are bits of dough around meat, baked until crispy, then with tomato sauce, yogurt and sumac (citrusy spice).

An alternate presentation is with rich chicken stock instead of tomato.

Lamb Gouvaj was a delicious lamb stew (peppers, eggplant, tomato) that came with a little dough cap.

With it I had a salad, puffy bread and beer. 7150 dram (Cdn$25)

Statue outside Republic Square Metro station.

Very quiet on Sunday morning.

My destination was the Yerevan train station. Very handy to have a Metro station beside it.

I was there to buy a train ticket for Gyumri for the next day. But the building was totally deserted. Felt very strange, like I wasn’t supposed to be in there.

So I went back downtown and wandered around Vernissage Market. It’s mainly souvenirs, but a few antiques and carpets.

Lots of chess sets. It’s big here. Since 2011 it has been a compulsory subject for Grades 2,3 and 4.

Then 1.5 hours to Gyumri by car. I couldn’t confirm the train.

I liked how the road would just go around a spot. It seems to involve water and very rocky places.

Gyumri is Armenia’s second largest city and a great size for walking and eating. I’m afraid poor Goris was lacking restaurants.

Vardanants Square is the main square, or I should say ‘main traffic circle’. There was a police car continuously circling and telling people by speaker to ‘not park there’, ‘keep moving’.

City Hall on one side.

Gyumri has the most stunning black and orange local tuff for their buildings.

Yerevan tuff was pinkish.

Amenaprkich (All Saviours) is on another side of the square.

The original sphere after it was badly damaged in the 1988 earthquake.

It’s still being reconstructed but it’s almost ready.

Vot Verk (Seven Wounds of the Holy Mother of God) had also been rebuilt.

Abovyan Street is one of the newly paved downtown streets using money from expats and the European Bank.

Armenian trivia. Cher’s father was Armenian, and so was Robert Kardashian.

This was an inviting archway that led to a restaurant/nightclub.

Armenians are very proud of their mineral water. Public fountains are everywhere. But my stomach can’t handle too much so I drink bottled water too, much to the dismay of locals.

There is much rebuilding going on to restore the damage of the earthquake.

Over 50,000 people died in the earthquake, and many are still living in ‘temporary’ shipping containers.

Mother of Armenia (1975) is on a hill on the edge of the city.

Looking across to Sev Berd (Black Fortress). It was built of the black tuff in 1830’s when the Russians were under threat by the Turks.

It wasn’t open but is now used a theatre for forums and concerts.

Saint Michael the Archangel Church (1886) is a clock tower Russian Orthodox church.

Left to right- Cathedral of the Holy Martyrs, Museum of National Architecture and Urban Life, SD Merkurov’s House Museum.

Headgear of the priests.

The Gallery of Mariam and Eranuhi Aslamazyan is another house-based museum.

They were sisters, born in 1907 and 1910. They studied and travelled extensively, which was very unusual, especially as female artists.


The ‘Shuka’ market

I got a little carried away buying cherries. Did I really need a kilo? Even if it was only 1200 dram (Cdn$4) for the biggest ones. I ended up giving most to the staff!

Some very interesting string cheese. Very salty and strong tasting, especially the ‘mouldy one’!

A great salad and lahmajo (very thin crust and meat) for 1500 dram (Cdn$5).

Borscht, beer and khachapuri (++cheese stuffed edges with an egg baked into it. 3300 dram (Cdn$11).

I had already started eating it before my soup came by tearing off the end and dipping into the yolk.

Khachapuri are more Georgian, but I’m close to the border. And I’m only an hour away from Vanadzor, where I first entered Armenia!

Pelmani, meat filled tortellini and summer salad. I can’t believe how good the tomatoes and cucumbers are! 2200 dram (Cdn$7.75)

So tomorrow I leave Armenia and head back into Georgia for another month.

It’s been an amazing journey here.

Thank you Armenia❤️

12 thoughts on “Goris 2 Gyumri

  1. You have seen some beautiful landscapes! Do a lot of people speak English? So much history!! It looks like you are eating healthy! Thanks for sharing the pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The landscape and food are great! English not so much. Best is usually found in hotels where they are hired for the ability. Sign language and Google Translate help!


  2. Beautiful… beautiful pictures as always. Do you just use your cell phone for them or have you got a camera. Always love reading your notes, thanks for sharing. Safe travels!!

    Sent from my iPhone

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The history of Armenia is so rich and special that it is difficult for me to understand it. I mix those small states with their border disputes as well.
    It is incredibly wonderful that you can get to know these regions there.

    Liked by 1 person

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