My dad and Uncle Big Dave Jr. came to visit me during the most beautiful season in Armenia. Just as the time was approaching for them to arrive, the green grass and colorful wildflowers were just at their peak. We had rain showers most evenings, but it made for nice clear air and great views. It had been one year since I had seen anyone in my family, so I was VERY excited for them to arrive.
They arrived in Yerevan at 5 a.m. and were ready to see the city as soon as possible. I took them for a little tour up the city, including the cascade and my favorite American style breakfast place where you can get lattes and bacon.
Then we took a taxi to Garni and Geghart. An ancient Roman temple and one of my most favorite churches in the country. The taxi ride was pleasant and of course, we had to run out of gas on the way back to the city.
The Geghart church was carved out of a cliff wall.
Dad and UBDj light their first of many candles in a church here.
The next day we took a masrutka to my site and we had to make the obligatory trip to Noravank, a church just 15 minutes away from Yeghegnadzor.
They both climbed the very steep steps up into the 2nd floor of the church.
The next day we went for a long hike up into the mountains surrounding Yeghegnadzor to Spitakavor, a monastery. There are several shepard settlements along the way, and when I was up there before (in the fall) they were uninhibited. Fortunately this time the families has just moved in a few days prior. This is Hayko, Vardges and Takuhi. They keep cows and bees just off the road to Spitakavor.
Just like you would expect from any incredibly hospitable Armenian, they laid out a whole table just for us. Fresh honey and yogurt, lavash, cucumbers and tomatos and offered us up some shots of vodka. We kindly munched on the treats, declined the vodka and continued along the way.
My favorite way to hike is to go up along the vehicle trail and to descend through the gorge. However, last time I was there the river was much lower and crossing it was no trouble. With the incessant rains and snowmelt, the river was a challenge to cross.
There are some really incredible wildflowers in bloom up there.
Dad and UBDJ brought some great gifts for my families and my neighbor kids had a great time learning how to throw the frisbee.
My landlords/next door neighbors gladly made a khorovats for their guests. UBDJ was fascinated by the tonir, a pit in the ground usually used to make lavash, and has decided to construct one at his home in Idaho. Samvel was happy to bring out his homemade grape vodka for us to "sample" and even gave Dave and Dad some to take back home.
Us at a small memorial in the gorge along the road to Tatev.
Dad checking out some of the engravings on the Khatchkars in Noratus along the shore of Lake Sevan.
Dad decided to buy some hand made hats from some of the very pushy tatiks. As soon as he brought out his wallet the ladies started yelling louder and pushing more of their crafts on him.
Dad up at Surpkhatch, a church just above Yeghegnadzor.
Samvel, my landlord and our chauffeur.
Our lovely Lada.
The typical traffic jam in these parts.
We went to visit my first host family in Karenis.
And then we took the midnight train to Georgia. The train crosses the border at about 3 a.m. so they wake you up in the middle of you less-than-pleasant sleep on the train to check you passport.
Georgian wine and cuisine is not so much different that Armenian, but a pleasant change. Needless to say, we indulged.
In Gori, the birthplace of Stalin.
In Uplistsikhe, (yeah, try pronouncing THAT!) an ancient cave city just outside of Gori.
We had a pretty spectacular weather display while we were there.
We returned from Georgia, spent one more night in Yerevan and then I sent the pair on their was back home. It was so nice to be able to share my life with them and to introduce them to my new home, friends and family.