Wonderful encounters

Green hills as far as the eye can see

Green hills as far as the eye can see

About a silent moment of staring, a fruity award, dance lessons and green lemonade

Saturday 14th of July 2012

By bike from Yerevan to Iran part two. When we got up we decided to cycle far this day. We wanted to cross some mountains, bring some kilometers behind us and make more than the lousy 50 kilometers that have become our average in Armenia. We started cycling and stopped after 100 metersRoberto’s back gears did not work properly. We fixed them quickly and went on.

We shared the road with Iranian trucks, a cowboy, his cows and few cars

We shared the road with Iranian trucks, a cowboy, his cows and few cars

The way was hilly but not too hard. All the time we followed a beautiful river. No such rocky ground as I expected. In fact the way was full of potential camping spots. We stopped at one of them to fill our water bottles at the tap. I don’t know how much water we drink during one day but I feel that it is still not enough. The tap water was clear and fresh and I could not hold myself washing my dusty face. When I just finished washing my hair as well the owner saw me and was not amused. I apologized and when she saw how dirty we and our bikes were she was not angry anymore.

We shared road infos and inspected each others vehicles

We shared road infos and inspected each others vehicles

Bike meets motorbike

We spent some time at the beautiful spot and then moved on – until we saw some motorcyclists having a bath down in the river. Shall we really make another break? Well, we were curious and walked our bikes down to the river. The German group was very nice, we shared information about the streets and the nature, looked at each other’s baggage and maps. Just like like some dogs that sniff on each other.

Movsisyan Family and Annika

Movsisyan Family and Annika

So now we really planned to face with some uphills. We had barely cycled some 25 kilometers when a family waved us towards them. They were standing in the door of a family-run restaurant just by the river, the two little kids had their eyes open staring at us weird people who cycle instead of using a car. Usually it is me saying “why not?”, but now it was Roberto. “Come on, let’s turn around and get to know them”, he proposed. How lucky have we been! Mariam offered us green lemonade (Roberto loved it) and ice cream and while we were enjoying them in the sun we also got to know their daughter Alvard who spoke some English and was very interested in travel.

Armen cooking for us chicken in the stone oven

Armen cooking for us chicken in the stone oven

Armenian dance course 101

After a nice break I was just ready to pack my bike when I heard a voice behind me. “Excuse me, where are you from?” We talked a little and in the end got invited for some food with him and his two colleagues. We shared fish, pork, lots of vegetables, creams, potatoes, bread and sodas and had remarkable talks about travels, Armenia, Georgia and living abroad. After dinner we all were ready to go on. Again I packed my bike and was ready to go when Alvard came to me. “Are you leaving? Why do you leave? Why don’t you stay here overnight?”

Well actually I had not been thinking about that. Again it was not me but Roberto who finally accepted the offer. Bye bye plan to cycle really far today. Hello new plan of getting to knbow better this wonderful family. It was a great idea. We got to know the entire family, washed our sweaty cycling clothes in the river and even got a crash course in traditional Armenian dances at night. Alvard translated everything her parents, aunt, grandmother or siblings wanted to say or ask. We had a wonderful night and felt like a part of the family immediately.

We shared our breakfast in the morning. Alvards grandmother kept bees and the honey was delicious. We shared the vegetables and sausage that we still had left from the day before and ate far too much of the sweet homemade jam.

Gor, Maryam and Nelly

Gor, Maryam and Nelly

Fruits as an award

Again we left late. Since it was hot we had planned to leave every early in the morning and take a long nap in the shadow at noon to go on in the afternoon. But again we did not leave until 10.30 am.

Voratan Pass, Armenia

Uphill, uphill and more uphill

The climate was on our side. The higher we cycled towards the Vorotan pass the more clouds covered the hard sun. We needed less water and enjoyed the view on every break. There was not too much traffic, just a few cars, trucks, cows and horses. Still it was not easy, but the circumstances were not as hard as during the last climb. After some hours of climbing we made it up on 2334 meters.

We were both starving and ate everything that we brought

We were both starving and ate everything that we brought

We parked the bikes and looked at the surprised faces of the fruit sellers around us. There was one moment of silent staring and then the sellers picked each a hand full of fruits and gave them to us. We were very hungry and thankful and ate them all. Now we were happy that we still had the leftovers from dinner and bought bread. Our bodies yelled for carbohydrates and we happily gave them. Up there it was pretty cold and windy. I searched for my fleece sweater and the long trousers and was still cold. It was time to move on and keep cycling.

Voratan Pass, Armenia

We made it up!

I expected a great roll down, but we were caught between pretty steep but relatively short hills. The view down to the Spandaryan reservoir was stunning. We kept cycling through fields, passing beekeeper’s houses, villages and fields, but most of the time there were just flower fields all around.

Heavy hills

This was not the downhill that I had expected …

At night we had some trouble finding a place to camp again. There was not a single flat spot around that had short grass. When we saw a hotel called Qarunge just by the exit to Sisian Roberto decided to ask for a place to camp. I did not cherish the hope too much, but it didn’t hurt to ask.

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A reservoir welcomed us

We were very lucky again. Sos, a young student who just came home for vacation and his parents were impressed of our travel and apart of letting us camp they even gave us food, beer and tea. We spent half the night talking with Sos about ancient and recent cultures, the nonsense of borders, making peace and traveling.

Quarunge Hotel

Quarunge Hotel – we spent a great and safe night here.

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