The beautiful province of Armenia
Early in the morning we depart and arrive in Goris, a town east of Yerevan. Initially we head back to the lake Sevan, following the path that brought us to the capital two days ago.
The traffic is bearable and in a short time we move to the south side of the lake. The high altitude (1900m), finally throws the thermometer at an acceptable level, allowing us to admire the magic of the lakeside path.
Around the lake there is a remarkable tourist development, aside from some areas with containers that have been converted into homes.
Near town Gavar, we leave the main road and reach the small traditional village Noratus. We follow the signs to Noratus Cemetery, to find ourselves outside the village cemetery. The peculiarity lies in the stone slabs (khachkars) which make up the old tombstones. Dating from the 16-17 century AD. and many of them come from Mount Ararat.
On the plates, which are estimated to number close to the first thousand, engraved various symbols, focusing on the cross, over a solar disk. There are some which are decorated with scenes from the daily life of farmers but with wedding ceremonies. The place has a small church and also a small building that looks like a mausoleum.
A beautiful legend says that when Tamerlane was preparing to attack the village, the people "wore" the tombstones helmets and swords, so that from a distance look like a huge army, forcing the occupier to run away.
After the visit, continue to Martuni, which essentially leave behind the lake and begin to ascend towards the mountains. The road condition is moderate, with several patches, but still have the beauty of the dry and inhospitable landscape compensates us with the above. Leads to a plateau that gradually reaches 2410m altitude, over Selim.
One of the highlights of the route is on a plateau, just before the summit, where beside us fly giant eagles...
This passage has taken its name from the caravan station is a short distance from the top. It is a stone building that formerly was a "hotel" for travelers. This particular road until Goris and way up to Iran was part of the trade "Silk Road" which ended in China. In several places there were "hotels" for travelers called Caravanserai.
It is a rectangular building (13Ch26m), where inside has areas intended both for travelers and for the horses and the other animals that they carried with them. The architecture is simple and uncluttered, while the unique crafted point of the entrance, reminiscent of Arabic style. Keep in very good situation, but is completely different from those of Turkey and the Middle East.
We stop for some time to browse through the building and enjoy the panoramic views of the mountains and the wider area of ??the plateau formed ahead. While the area is dry in the middle of the plateau that lies before us is vegetation, water sample presence.
Some time later we continue the descent enjoying the journey to Yeghegnadzor.
From there, turn left towards the Goris following the raging river Arpa and crossing a steep canyon.
Shortly after the village of Vayk, make a stop to rest in one of the riverside shops in that area. The space is beautifully landscaped with small kiosks and hammocks by the river. We are the second company in the shop and the smiling owner comes immediately to get order. The concert proved difficult as there is no list and the woman does not speak any English. A young man from the nearby kiosk, Bakur is willing to help as he speaks very good English. Besides helping to order, he gives us enough information for Goris, the Kndzoresk area that has caves in the rocks and a huge tree well hidden in Nagorno-Karabakh.
What makes us strong impression is courtesy of Bakur who assures us that the Armenians are happy to receive tourists in their place, and even gives us the telephone number to contact them in case we need anything. Finally, it invites us, if back in Yerevan, to get together for «beer party» characteristically tells us that and promise. We had so n 'else in mind, but now even gained a good reason to return to the capital ...
As we leave Bakur holding the paper in our account and tells us that they are paid by him! "I expect your phone!" Are his last words before he left.
Our whole scene elevates mood, putting even more deeply in our hearts this country and those people. We eat, earned rest, refresh our feet on the gurgling river and off for the last 80km. by Goris.
Once again, the road climbs elevation close to 2000m. The landscape becomes more Alpine, without being able to distinguish tree trail. Vast meadows "painted" with golden color as the sun moves towards sunset.
After the village Saravan the sinuous road climbs to a higher altitude, where we meet the two concrete columns which mark the passage Vorotan (2344m), which was built in the 1950s.
The columns, which are referred to as portals of Zangezur, marked with different symbols and define the passage of the Vayots Dzor region in Syunik region of Armenia. One of the columns has two steeples, the name «Vayots Dzor» means «the bells kept silence", referring to hostile attack .... in the area caught sleeping residents, who did not even sound the alarm!
The bitter cold makes us descend rapidly from the passage. The path to our own pattern soon leads to our final destination, Goris.
The city is built in the valley of the homonymous river (known as Vararak), at an altitude of 1350 meters and surrounded by the Zangezur Mountains. There are several versions about the name of the city, but the most prevalent says Goris comes from the Indo-European words «Gor» (= stone) and «es» (= become).
Alice (from the Armenian community) had mentioned a hotel, Mirhav , which we were looking at the previous day on the internet. As we enter the town we head towards it. The hotel shows super but the price is a little pinched. We haggling the price as possible -as we like to stay 3 nights- and coupled with the fact that there are no free basic rooms, but only the last two suites, finally give us ultimately the suites at a price single room... We got so very lucky.
We arrange our stuff and go for dinner. As well as we had read, there are few eating options in town. Unfortunately it is late 9pm and the kitchen is closed! Juggle our hunger with that is left over in the kitchen, we feed ourselves with plenty of bread and we move to our beautiful suites for getting us in the arms of Morpheus.