Ararat, Culture Flash in Yerevan or You can find the Best Brownies here

A strenuous stage leads us from our campsite in Getap towards Ararat. We ride on the expressway, highway or freeway. The road leads into Iran, 990 kilometers to Tehran. We ride in the other direction. Here also the heavy traffic from Yerevan tortures itself in the direction of Iran and vice versa. It goes up and down. We cannot always judge the brakes of the traffic participants or oncoming overtaking drivers do not concider us as cyclists – then we swerve into the gravel next to the road. With time it becomes routine.

Finally we reach the top of the pass. Short break at a bus stop.
Waiting for the rain to pass. Three kilometers before our destination today, Boris`Guesthouse

Finally we see it: Ararat – the mountain where Noah’s Ark was stranded.

The great Ararat (5137m) – gigantic

In the foreground a district of Yerevan. Ararat is on the Turkish side, the region and city of the same name Ararat in Armenia.

On the left the small Ararat (3698m) – also very impressive

Yerevan is called the pink city because of the numerous tuff buildings from the Soviet era and the many young people. Large wide boulevards form the traffic axes and thus the basic shape of the city which was built this way during the Soviet Union. Until then Yerevan was a small town. It is one of the oldest cities in the world! Only the Blue Mosque remains from the Islamic past.

Only women with hijab are only allowed to go to the mosque
Rolf visited the mosque

Despite 1.3 million inhabitants, the city seems very unexcited. There is little hustle and bustle. The city is full of people, especially around the Republic Square, in the parks in front of it, with great illuminated water features and fine music. The park benches are crowded. 1000s of students of numerous faculties, 100s of policemen chilling rather than demonstrating authority. They regulate the traffic in spite of traffic lights or help to change tires on the big intersections. People enjoy the spring in the city situated on 1000m altitude. (Western) Europeans are rather none.

In front of the parliament there are small and large demonstrations every day with television crews and police presence. But it always remains very peaceful. Expressing one’s opinion does not seem to entail any reprisals here.

We take the metro and then the super fast escalator from seventy meters below the ground.

We visit the cascades which can also be descended by escalator, admiring designer furniture and other art.

In the park below the cascades

Yerevan has many theatres. During our exploration of the city we discovered the Youth Theater, an indoor theatre, the opera, the dramatic theatre, the Moscow Cinema Theatre and a puppet theatre.

The Moscow cinema theatre, part of it is now a boutique hotel

We are lucky and in Yerevan on International Museum Day, May 20. All forty museums are free and open until late at night. In the capital there is everything what a state and the small republic of Armenia needs. It is a wonderful warmy night. We visit the National Gallery with its special exhibitions, the Ararat Brandy Factory, let ourselves be taken in by the atmosphere and enjoy the warm air.

This would be something for the home art gallery
Ararat Brandy Factory
Bakery in the middle of Yerevan. Fresh from the oven, warm in the mouth and all handmade
Exhibition in the art gallery
Armenian coffee at Art Space Café

In case you will visit Yerevan once, please do not miss the Art Space Cafés with galery. It is our ultimative tip considering the more than 500 outdoor cafés in Yerevan. Taste the armenian coffee as well as the extraordinaries brownies.

We run our feet flat for two full days and stay three nights Marita’s Hotel. The recommendation comes from Mario from Leipzig, whom we met in Dilijan. Short notice means we book the room and arrive 20 minutes later around the corner. Marita warmly welcomes us with coffee, chocolates and dried fruits on her Hollywood swing where we will sit together several times during the next three days. Our actual reservation has fallen through, fortunately, because this one is a stroke of luck, a quiet oasis in the middle of the megacity Yerevan.

Marita and Astrid five minutes after arrival – they have already hugged each other three times

It is time to say ‘goodbye’. And there it is again, that feeling. From the first minute you feel so welcomed, you are warmly received, and after a short time you leave again, knowing that you probably will not see each other again.

Our stage today takes us out of Yerevan, towards Gyumri, the second largest city in northwestern Armenia. It is very hazy, desert-like. We ride along the southern flank of the Aragatz which is also over 4000 m high. Its snow-covered peaks we can only guess. After 75 kilometers we reach our destination, an inn in the middle of nowhere. Anna and her mother take care of us who are the only guests. There is coffee, tea, fresh water, chocolates, dried fruit. After a wonderful shower we rest first in the hammock and later on the balcony.

In the evening Anna conjures up a sumptuous meal – we fill our stomachs so much that we have to refuse breakfast the next morning.
After dinner it is perhaps one less
On the left the sanitary facilities, on the right the stairs up to the sleeping quarters

A good day, a good place, after so many impressions of Yerevan.

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