Sunday, October 26, 2014

October 26, 2014 Garni and Geghard

With such beautiful weather and a whole week off of school, this was the perfect day to head off to see nearby Garni and Geghard.  The temple of Garni is a first century Hellenic temple.  It is the only pagan temple in Armenia that survived when the country converted to Christianity.  An earthquake damaged it in the 1600s, but it was restored in the early 1970s.  The building style is different from what is seen elsewhere in the country.

The temple is located in an area with nice views.

Ceiling detail

Been there, done that.  Ryan is ready to move on.

You can google information on it just as well as I can if you really want to know about it.

Less than 8 miles away is the Geghard Monastery. Combining it in the trip to Garni is a no-brainer. The main chapel was built in 1215.  The complex is partially carved out of the mountain and was pretty cool to see.  You can google it if you want all of the details and better pictures.

Looking down from the path leading up from parking to the monastery.

Me with my sweeties

This is detail inside the first of the rock-cut chambers.

Spring water came from this wall and flowed from a small pool across the room.

Many people were lighting candles and praying in the first room we entered.

Justin was not too happy about being up there.

Art class field trip?

 The boys were pretty good sports.  They are not particularly interested in old buildings.  I told them that it was something that I wanted to see and that it made sense to see it while we lived in Armenia and it was so close.  I told them that once we move we probably won't ever be back here.  Justin agreed that it made sense to see this stuff now while it didn't cost us a lot of money to travel.  Plus it only wasted half of their nine days off from school.
I had to take a picture before we ate this delicious sweet bread.  Not sure if 1000 drams ($2.50 US) was a rip-off
or not.  I think it was worth every penny.
We got some of the delicious sweet bread that was being sold along the walk up to the monastery.The boys were given the option of going straight home or stopping in the city for lunch.  The vote was to eat bread in the car and just go home.  The 28 miles took us about an hour an a half.  The road conditions leave much to be desired in places and for some reason the traffic through Yerevan was insane.  The boys both fell asleep in the car.  They haven't done that in a long time.  

Saturday, October 04, 2014

October 2-October 4, 2014

The boys had a couple of days off of school so we decided to go and see a few things here in Armenia.  Our time is quickly going by and it would be embarrassing if we left the country without seeing anything.  We first went to Khor Virap, less than 400 feet from the border with Turkey.  This is one of the most famous sites in Armenia, where St. Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for 13 or so years before converting the king (and the country) to Christianity. Here is a link to more information if you are interested:
There isn't a lot to see, but it is a beautiful area and we enjoyed walking around both inside the walls and outside.
Evidently Rob was walking behind me in this shot.

View from up the path a little way.

Surrounding area.  The area on the left is a cemetery.
 There are a couple of places you can climb down into underground chambers.  I went down one which had really rough stairs and then a little ledge and then a ladder type thing.  It was not a comfortable fit to get up and down.  Ryan wanted to go with me, but he didn't really have the leg span to be able to reach.  I took a picture once I got to the bottom to show what it looked like.
Here I am trying to get up and out of this horrible hole.

Not too big or exciting.
I thought this was the place St. Gregory had been.  Evidently that was the other hole that I did not enter. It was a round manhole sized opening with a rather scary ladder going down into darkness. The previous link has a picture of what it was like.  It seems to be larger, but I still wouldn't want to spend 13 years in there with all sorts of creepy crawlies.

A thing by the door.  I am guessing St. Gregory, but who knows.
(I would make the best tour guide!)

A lot of the walls had writing on them.  I am sure that you can make it out. :)

Here are my cuties by the main entrance in.
As opposed to the main entrance out?  I suppose obviously an entrance is for going in.
This is also the main exit.  It is for going out. :)
Now of course there are tour buses and people from all over coming to see this and other major sites on their tour of Armenia.  Some are old, some are young.  Some have packs and bikes and are roughing it.  Some are all dressed up.  This guy was my favorite though.  I mean, check out that mustache.  I really wanted to point it out to my boys.  It made me think of some Mario villain or something.  I was so excited when I saw him coming out of the chapel and I could get this shot while making it look like I was getting the building.

Ryan on the way back down.
Ryan and I walked over to the cemetery for a little while.  Justin and Rob waited for us because Justin had no interest.  It was really a poorly kept area in my opinion, which I found odd as many of the graves were recent.  This isn't some old abandoned cemetery or anything.  What I found interesting though was the pictures that many of the stones had on them.  I think it is nice to see a picture of what the person looked like.  

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Tbilisi Part 4

Last Part
After lunch at Wendy's, we decided to walk to the funicular because it was just over a kilometer away.  We walked and we walked and we walked.  We had the funicular located on our map and kept walking and our little dot moved closer and closer to the spot on the map.

Random nothing on our walk

One of many homes we passed on our walk.

Justin half dead on our walk.
We somehow ended up at the mid point funicular station.  There is a bottom, a halfway point, and the top. We arrived at the halfway point, wondering WHY they have a stop there, but so glad that they did.  We had a card for it, but didn't know how much money was on it because the friends who gave it to us hadn't known.  The kids were free, I got through, but there was not enough left on it for Rob.  Yes, they have a cashier there.  No, it wasn't open.  The employee took pity on us and told us to pay the extra at the top.

There was a group of three people there waiting for the funicular already.  They seemed to have been at the middle stop on purpose though.  Heaven knows why.  A couple arrived at the stop and evidently they had been trying to find the bottom station as well.  They had no card at all.  The group already there swiped the card for them.  Guess we weren't the only idiots that day.  Seriously though, we followed the map AND signs that said funicular.  You would think that if they are going to put signs up for tourists they would try to get them right!

At the top, we tried to pay and the cashier said she couldn't do that.  Okay.  On we went then to the amusement park.  Evidently Mtatsminda Park (also known as Bombora) was the third most visited park in the USSR back in the Soviet days.  I think that is just so sad.  It is a pretty bleak park.  It makes me think of the kind of place you would pick for a creepy movie set.  My kids don't know any different though, so they were happy.

Haunted House

Coming out of the Haunted House.
 Rob went into the haunted house with the boys.  They loved it and even wanted to go again.  I asked Rob if it was scary and he said no, but that it was highly inappropriate.  Nice.  Oh well.  I am happy to report that they did not have any nightmares.

Many of the rides were closed.  Much of the park was just strange.

What exactly is this and what is it holding?

See what I mean?  What is it and why?

Decorative or scary?

So this is cool because...
 Justin got to go on this swing ride, but they said Ryan was too short.  Too bad because he really likes this ride.  He was a good sport about it though.
One of the nicer looking rides.

Oh look!  My family in a weird sculpture.
 Ryan had to go to the bathroom while we were there.  We found one that was really well marked.  We went in and Ryan was horrified to discover the toilet was squashed.  I told him it wasn't squashed, it was a squatter.  Why a boy who can pee outside has so much trouble with a squatter is beyond me.  He had the worst time and wanted to know where to stand, how to aim, etc.  I should have just had him go in the bushes.

The entrance (which is at the opposite end from where the funicular pulls up) has a funky structure that is fun to climb on.  What a cool tree house.
There they are!
 The regular bumper cars were not a choice for my kids, but the junior ones were a go.  They were fortunate that they were the only two in there at the time because they were not the most coordinated people you have ever seen in your life.  Oh my.  They had fun though.
Junior bumpers were the perfect size and speed for them.

Down we went once we were done.  We rode from the top to the bottom this time rather than walking halfway. :) Nice view of the city from the top and as we went down.

From the bottom we caught a cab because we were tired!  We got some ice cream and then slowly walked back to our hotel.  I had the best pistachio ice cream I have had in a long time.
Ryan is trying to make a cute face.

Random pic by the ice cream place

Restaurant where we had our huge meal the day before.
 We doubted that we would be hungry for dinner.  The boys were up for a little cotton candy though.  We picked up bananas and a few other odds and ends to snack on later.

 The next day we started home.  Here is a fairly decent stretch of the road.  There are no potholes as big as our car nor are there cows in the road.  If only the roads were this nice the whole way.  Oh, and love the bus in front of us.  We passed as soon as we could see around it or we would probably still be driving.

Home again with laundry to do and bags to unpack.  Sigh.  The part of the vacation I don't enjoy.