Rather late posting. Just yesterday returned from London, where I was on business. Our four day trip was extremely exciting, full of events and funny, unforseen situations. Finally I got 3 more people coming with to that trip - two friends from Moscow and one from London. Thanks Lena and her excelent NIVA car, we managed to do quite a lof for those days - drove over 1200 km through breathtaking mountain chains, saw gorgeous and inimitable landscapes and natural beauties, visited 12 monasteries and met very interesting people.
I would like to thank all those who helped me in the design of a four day trip in Armenia and Artsakh, particulary Raffi Kojian and Ara Manoogian and Lena Majarian. We were planning to meet with Ara in Martuni (Artsakh) but, unfortunately it didn't happen due to military excersises which were taking place those days in the area of Aghdam town.
What we've managed to do and to see?
First day - Kobayravank and Haghpat (we started quite late from Yerevan and descided to skip visit to Odzun, also we haven't seen Kirants monastery ... the road was very bad with deep muddy holes and after passing 10 km towards the monastery we had to turn back and drive to the main road as we planned to spend first night somewhere near Dilijan) Eventually we have reached a very nice small hotel just 3 km away from Ijevan.
Second day - Haghardzin, Sevanavank, Noraduz Khachkar cemetry, Kelbadgar pass, Dadivank and Martakert. We planned to stay a night at Ara's house, but arrived to Martakert when it was 22:00. Local people strongly reccommended us not to go to Martuni via Aghdam at that time as we could have got lost in that ghost city with no chances to go out of it till early morning. We had to stay in the only "operating" hotel of Martakert in Lux number - "all inclusive" :)
Third day - started from Martakert, saw Gandzasar, Mayraberd (Askeran) fortress where we were stopped by police. They told us that we can't go to Martuni via Aghdam as there were military excersises, so we decided to go to Stepanakert and spend a night in Shushi. Visited Kanach jam and St. Kazanchetsots in Shushi as well as climbed on the top of Shushi mosque. I liked Shushi hotel very much - it contained very moderate prices, very nice rooms with Armenian carpets and crafts everywhere and nice view on St.Kazanchetsots and Shushi from the rooms.
Forth day - Shushi, Lachin, Khdzoresk, Goris with incredible rocks, surrounding it, Karahundj village (we were invited to on of the villager's home where we got stuck for almost two hours talking, eating and drinking famous Karahundzi mullbery vodka), Tatev Monastery, swam in "Satani bridge" srpring waters, visited Noravank and arrived back to Yerevan at 23:30.
So, what we didn't managed to see - Odzun, Kirants, Martuni, Gtchavank, Amaras, Gndevank. ... quite a lot! Next time we will be able to conduct the programme better, but the first experience is already in our memory, heads and hearts:)
All four of us were really impressed with what we've seen. We were not tired at all! The only moment when I started feeling tired was when I was boarding on the plane to Moscow ... Now we are working on a more extensive report on the trip. As soon as it's ready I will publish it here. It will contain useful information on timing, places to eat and stay. I don't know when I will another opportunity to come to Armenia, but I'm already designing a new programme, at least the names of the churches and monasteries are non-stop circulating in my head :)
All the best to all of you!