St Katoghike Church, oldest and smallest
Our last wake-up in Tbilisi was at 5:30 AM. We were very ready to leave Georgia and prayed for a GOOD experience. Rob took the first suit cases down while I finished up a couple of things. I walked down as he was loading the taxi and we were off to the airport. Luckily the drive, check-in, and take off when very well and with no issues. Rob had a little nap on the plane. When we landed the made our way through passport control someone approached Rob while he was with the agent and asked him if he was American, where he had come from, and if he had any cold or flu like symptoms. Thankfully they didn’t ask me or I’m sure we would have been quarantined.
Safely through passport control, we found the carousel to claim our suitcase. It started up and ran for 20 minutes before a bag appeared. There were only about nine bags as most of the passengers were continuing on to Moscow (you can’t get a direct flight from Georgia for some reason). Ours was the last one and as soon as it was past the opening the belt stopped to save energy I guess.
Roof lines of St Katoghike Church
Next we had to get the rental car and head into the city. Since we were both tired and hungry, this could be challenging. The rental car place was tucked into a corner behind a cell phone company booth.
They guys were very nice and took us out to the car. While we were going over it I realized it did not have air conditioning as I had requested. They guys looked at the reservation and said it didn’t say we should have AC. I was very insistent and he said that the next day we could take it to their headquarters and change it for a car with AC, he would arrange it. They drove the car out of the airport for us and were apparently leaving for the day as well since it was a national holiday there. We were making our way to the city when we saw the rental car guys pulled over and waving us down. They had forgotten their copy of the paperwork in the car. That handled, we continued on. Rob had the course plotted on the map were given after we asked. They rental car guys had to get if from the cell phone people… whatever it takes to get by I guess.
Cross stone at St Katoghike
Details of cross stone at St Katoghike
We made it to the hostel with little incident….. which is amazing considering Rob could see NO street signs. He was counting streets on the map and looking for landmarks. Our room was a little tight, but nice and the bathroom was good. We did a quick unpack and then headed out to get money and eat. The hostel recommended a restaurant called the Art Bridge Bookstore and Café. On our way there I noticed that as in Georgia, we were the center of unwanted attention, GREAT! I continue, we found the café and had omelets and shared French toast. We both agreed the food was a little oily, but good. Rob loved the French toast.
He also tried Armenian tea, something he enjoyed.
Crosses carved on wall of St Katoghike
After brunch we headed back out to look around some. Rob took us by the oldest and smallest church in Yerevan. It was sad to see that they were not taking good care of the area and it looked a run down. The grass needed to be mowed and there were concrete pads where other buildings had stood that were now empty and …..surrounded by weeds. Across the street we noticed a placed called Dream Cakes with the most delicious looking pastries inside. We resisted the urge and headed back to the hostel. We passed through the park where the Opera is located. There are lots of cafes with lavish lounging areas (couches and chaises) open to the park and Swan Pond. There is even a little island in the man made pond with a high arched bridge to it….
.quite interesting. The Opera building itself is very large but very plain. It is impressive from a scale perspective and in the overall setting beautiful. We made a quick stop at the grocery. We just need to rest for a little bit. We did a quick check of email and such.
Opera peaking up on the left
After we had regained some energy, we had to head out to find dinner. We wondered around and trying to find a suitable place. The staring continued and it was extreme. It’s like we were celebrities……but there was no paparazzi.. We were using the Lonely Planet book and half of the restaurants were no longer there or impossible to find. At one point we were on a street corner and some woman pushing a stroller in a British accent said “Look David can you spot the tourist?”. Rob was very unhappy about this comment as it was directed at us. Luckily I didn’t hear her or she would definitely have heard the tourist!
We finally settled on a restaurant and had a quite dinner. We had a good meal at an Italian restaurant called Gusto. Hey, they got al dente right, that’s half the battle. After that we headed down Northern Avenue. It is a pedestrian walk that is connecting the main centers of the Opera and Republic Square. All of the buildings are new and mostly unfinished. The buildings are quite impressive in style but there seems to be a bland theme of monochromatic stone. There are some high end shops there like Steve Madden and Emporio Armani. We reached Republic Square and were not impressed enough to take pictures then. There, too, was impressive scale and could be interesting but was a bit bland and monochromatic. There is a large water feature here as well. In the evening there is a dancing waters and a wall of water with images projected on it. We’ll see that another evening.
We really were very tired so we headed back to the hostel and called it a night. We watched a couple of episodes of Mad Men and then just slept or at least tried to.