Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sight Seeing.

Since we were there in winter some of the sights were slightly more difficult to see due to weather and road conditions.

The day after we arrived Nare took me, Matt, and Dr. B on a tour of Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. The first thing we went to was the Armenian Genocide Memorial. Similar to Arlington National in Virginia, it has an eternal flame. The flame is surrounded in a circular fashion by several concrete slabs that taper from bottom to top. We also toured the on-site museum. Very sullen atmostphere (though what would you expect, Mardis Gras?). Once there we got our first good look at Mt. Ararat. BIG, HUGE, IMPRESSIVE, HUMUNGOUS. I think that's enough adjectives. Yerevan is only 40km away from Mt. Ararat, which is actually in Turkey, so when you can see it it takes up 2/3 of the panorama.

The weather was very nice the first week so we took a few side trips. First (and most memorable) was a trip to Dilidjan, a little town oh, I guess about an hour from Yerevan. Interesting fact about Dilidjan is that its elevation drops 400 meters in less than a mile (yes I do know I'm mixing units here, haha). I thought I was back in San Francisco on Lombard Street for a minute. There was a very old monastary nearby and we were told by Tigran that it was a must see. He was right. The monastary itself is reached by a very winding road through a mountain/valley region. We couldn't drive all the way up to the monastary because there was a large patch of ice that the car couldn't pass, we walked the last 1/4 mile. It was FREEZING, I guess -2 Celsius (about 28 F for the Imperial folks). It was very impressive, and so isolated one feels like stepping back in time.

After exploring the monastary and "hadjkahs" (phonetic spelling here) it was time to head back because the weather was starting to turn. It had started to snow before we got back to the car and oh goody, THE CAR WOULDN'T START! So, with that in mind we proceeded to push the car up and down(??? yes down!) the mountain which by now had a nice layer of snow and ice on it. Tigran must have been embarassed, but we really didn't mind because the scenery was so beautiful and I'd never really seen a good snow (remember, Georgia boy here), so I was content to enjoy the moment.

After, oh I'd guess about an hour of pushing the car up icy slopes it finally decided to start. I'm guessing the altitude had some effect on it. And then we had a pretty uneventful ride back to Yerevan. All in all, more than enough adventure for the day, haha.

The next morning the ground was covered in snow -- at least four inches.

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