Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Goodbye Georgia and hello Armenia

Posted by Hippo Bean at 4:34 PM
We did our second cave town today in Vardzia, a 7 story structure built into the slopes of the Erusheti Mountain on the left bank of the Mtkvari River. It's more impressive than yesterday's Uplistsikhe. We passed by the Khertvisi Fortress, in Southern Georgia in the Meskheti region, to and from our way to Vardzia and stopped for some photos. A very beautiful fortress. Too bad we didnt have time to explore it. Then it's border crossing to Armenia. The weather suddenly changed to cloudy and rain but still very hot. No hassle whatsoever at the border and there's even an exchange machine on the Armenian side, where you put in any currency and out spits the equivalent of Armenian drams. A wonder of Armenia! And a nice welcome ! We met our local guide and our first stop was the earthquake devastated town of Gyumri, the capital and largest city of the Shirak Province in northwest Armenia. It is located about 120 km from the capital Yerevan. It was almost entirely flatten by a 7.1 earthquake, called the Pitak Earthquake in 1988 but totally rebuilt. Some buildings were still waiting to be rebuilt and showed massive damage. The new constructions used the Armenian tufa stones and they were absolutely gorgeous. Hues of brown, beige and orange blocks interspersed in the building walls offering well designed and eye pleasing houses. I really loved it! We arrived quite late and tired to our Best Western hotel in Yerevan, right in the midst of the Republic square where every night the fountain in front of the History Museum offered a water light show, kinda miniature of the Bellagio in Vegas. It's the evening hangout place. Couldnt wait to paint this vibrant city!

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