Cycling in Caucasus. There, where it all began – but only in the second trial.
Mostly barren land at around 2000 m altitude in Armenia.
2. July 2016. Border crossing seems to be forgotten by God. On the
Armenian side you must make an effort to find the outpost where they will put
in the passport stamp. Roads in Armenia look slightly better than in Georgia,
at least they are trying to patch the holes. But poverty appears to be somewhat
higher. I move around 2000 m all the time, the landscape is bare and slightly
wavy, passes are long, straight and not too steep, just as descends, in short
quite favorable conditions. At the end of the day, before Vanadzor, I find
refuge in a resort, where I get accommodation in a little house on two floors
and a great dinner with cheese, salad, pork shashlik and spicy sauce. Thank
God, the Armenians just as Georgians appreciate good food. Beside the house
there is a dog on a chain, but he too mostly lies in his cabin and meditates.
When I arrived he barked a bit, but we soon got used to each other. His
situation looks considerably more pitifully than mine, his freedom is limited
to two-meter chain, unlike me, who can move freely. But freedom is mainly in
the head and it looks like the dog has cleared everything in his own long ago.
Seller of cooked corn.
There was not much more to Yerevan. After Gyumri and
Vanadzor there is another pass at 1900 m, then incredibly long descent to
Dilijan, along the river where fumes from the grill fill the air at every 100
m. Armenians are obviously great gourmets and picnics lovers, and today is
Sunday which promises a great party. After Dilijan I again climb over 2100
meters. The rain caught me, I wait out the greatest downpour under the umbrella
of one of the many vendors of cooked corn, which were spread along the ascent,
then I continue on the wet road and in extremely pleasant circumstances I reach
the tunnel at the top. What difference is to easily ride up the hill in the
freshness after the rain or to sweat under the scorching sun! On the other side
of the tunnel it was like I entered into different movie: clear sky, the road
is dry and smooth and leads down to the Sevan Lake. It's a big lake, long about
75 km at an altitude of 1900 m is a true Armenian Riviera, there's as much
people here as on Copacabana, security guards struggle to control the chaos of
vehicles, thick smoke and smells fly from the grills, clarinet, accordion and
tarabuka are playing oriental rhythms, water scooters are chasing on the lake
and above them the screaming gulls. In short, an incredible party.
Lake Sevan has a sea feel.
Sunday lunch at Lake Sevan.
From Sevan to Yerevan it is about 80 km along the main
four-lane highway, so the last day of serious riding passed in the 1000 m drop
to the capital city of Armenia.On the
hilltop before Yerevan the view opens down to the endless city, which initially
seems unmanageable. Through the summer haze you can have a glimpse of the snowy
mass of Ararat (5165 m), where Noah's Ark ran aground and thus launched a new
colonization of the world. I descended into the valley, and there in the
southern suburbs of Erebuni, I found a great hotel, where I base myself for the
next four days. That represents a base for day trips to the city center and a
little further, to some Armenian sights, mostly religious in nature: the
monastery of Khor Virap and Geghard and the ancient Greek temple in Garni.