Visiting this country made me depressed. The hitchhiked driver stopped in the city of Gyumri, which hides a tragic story in the ruins.
Crossing the border between Georgia and Armenia turned out to be relatively easy. Doctors asked about "vakcina", border guards laughed, asking me many times to read my name, curiously looking through dozens of stamps in my passport.
Armenia is different from Georgia, it is much more "dry" and "sandy". Near the city, the driver started talking about what happened to them almost 30 years ago. A sad landscape around, although it was not entirely clear why…
Many years ago, the neighborhood and the city shook.
About 40,000 died, tens of thousands more were injured. As a result of the quake, high blocks with the so-called "big slab" collapsed like houses of cards. In addition, the whole thing happened in the winter and, what's worse, many medics died, preventing quick help.
The peculiar thing about Gyumri was the lack of tall buildings. You rarely get to a city without any skyscrapers or blocks higher than 4 stories. One can also get the impression that this event strongly changed people, making them more helpful.
As an example - after arriving in Gyumri, we had a problem with finding accommodation. A random person offered her help after seeing us lost. She drove us around the city for 30 minutes, helping us find a place to spend the night.
After a crazy ride with a driver who did not care about the rules, overtaking two cars at once, and carrying packed socks in the back seat, the route along the phenomenal mountains of Armenia began.
The older man who took us with him was carrying wooden boards on the roof. He did not care about the bad weather, covering the next kilometers at full throttle. He told many stories about his country with passion, clearly having a lot of affection for it.
Another driver who took us to Sevan had huge problems with a constantly breaking car. At one point, it felt like we weren't going to reach our destination. Who knows… maybe it's because I said "nu pagadi" to the driver's question aboutt speaking Armenian. It wasn't until later that I realized the meaning of those words - "I won't forgive you" is a poor greeting. What a shame...
The Sevan Monastery attracts hundreds of tourists, which is not surprising at all. The view is extraordinary and the area itself picturesque. Some tourists, tired from the long climb, sat down to rest for a while.
After leaving Sevan, we headed towards the Geghard Monastery. The setting sun illuminated the mountains phenomenally. The monastery was incredibly dark, forcing visitors to tread carefully, as it was easy to fall over
After a nightmarish night next to a monastery where howling wolves were approaching us, we drove to Yerevan. Just outside the city, we stopped to admire Mount Ararat.
Yerevan is quite an attractive place, well thought out, clean and cheap. It turned out that we arrived just before the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Armenia's independence. Dozens, if not hundreds, of police officers roamed the city, securing all the streets.
... and others looked pretty standard. At the end of the day we flew out of the country, leaving people celebrating behind us.