There are many holidays in Armenia to honor all of the history their people have gone through. There are almost holidays every week because the Armenians seem to turn the Christian cheek and not fight back. I think this particular holiday we were here for is when Turkey started to invade Armenia again during World War II.
Because they were having a holiday, we decided to take our own holiday. If there was one thing I wanted to see during my stay in Armenia it was the monastery at Geghard. It is architechually carved out of the adjacent mountain. Love it! Just looking at the pictures online, I couldn't imagine what it would be like in person. Here are some pictures from our drive up.
Upon our arrival to Geghard or any destination, you will always find the women selling their dried fruits, breads and something they call the American snickers, except healthier (dried grape juice over walnuts).
There were also three men to welcome us on their musical instruments. Welcome us as in, do you have a tip? And, we did.
On to Geghard....
Mat and Erik laughing about something. He was pretty fun to joke and hang around with. The van rides were the best, because of his cute accent and crazy driving. I enjoyed giving him a hard time.
It had many rooms for the priests to pray in. Some of the monastery was carved out of the mountain and the other half was man made.
Beehives sit just above us in this picture.
A room where you can sing and acoustics will carry it. The Readings sounded like a whole choir was singing.
Pomegranates and grapes are carved into the structure just above the door. These fruits are plentiful in their country.
A tree for making wishes, even though the sign on the tree says to clearly not do it. The people come and tie bits of cloth onto the branches and dream.
Again, a place to sacrifice the animals.
Pretty rushing river that only adds to beauty of this place.
On our way out we grabbed some of this goodness from heaven. It's bread with a layer of butter and sugar slabbed in the middle. Oh. My.
Just down the road is the Garni temple. Garni Temple dates back to the 1st century, if not earlier--so far back, in fact, that it predatesArmenia's conversion to Christianity. The temple was originally dedicated to Helios, the God of the sun. Its first modern excavation took place in the early 20th century.
Hopefully I have my story straight, but they originally had this christian church (below) and when it fell down and they started to rebuild, that's when they discovered the Garni temple.
Notice the shear, cracky cliffs! Those were breath taking.
We stopped and admired them for quite sometime.
I may have admired him too! The younger one. Geez.
On the same site, they also discovered ancient Roman bathhouses. The Armenians basically got a two for one deal here when they started to excavate.
I stopped to play the world known game of peek-a-boo with a little gal who was all dressed up for her outing. This was the only way we could communicate.
A favorite snack is the bitter, unripe, plums and apricots. I think I mentioned it before. Erik, was helping himself and also picked one for me to try. Queue Armenian accent: "Don't bite into the seed, it's bitter. Just eat around it, like this," he explained.
I just smiled an told Erik that I'd give it the summer and then have another try.
Everyone needs a wolf skin.
Sister Reading packed a nice picnic lunch of salad, chips, made out of the lavish bread, salsa and pumpkin chocolate cookies. Chocolate chips were a sacrifice in their eyes because they have to be special ordered from America.
Notice the place where we're sitting. It's a pull off to change the oil or fix your car. Maybe you can't see it from way down there.
We watched the donkeys and the cars go by
Later that night, we ate at this Georgian restaurant that was likened to the 3 stooges in America. You can see them in the painting behind Mat.
We also got these strange looking donkeys and cowboys, I guess?, for the girls. We believe this one compares to Napoleon Dynomite.
I had fun setting them up while I waited for my dinner.
We topped our bellies off with some gelato and walked back to our hotel.