jeudi 5 mai 2016

Kajaran - Meghri
50 km
Our last day in Armenia started with a steep climb up to 2500 meters. On the way up we had good sight of Kajaran which is a mining town and therefore surrounded by day-light mines.
The descend towards Meghri was in a marvellous valley with many figues trees. In Meghri we went to a hotel and for supper we had pizza with a lot of cheese - too much even for us...
We bought some water in a mini market and wondered about the relatively high price of around two dollars for five liters. At the hotel it turned out that we had bought vodka... We traded then the cannister against three shots of herb brandy with our host. We slept well and were looking forward to Iran.

vendredi 22 avril 2016

Tatev canyon

We took a day off in Goris and visited an old monastry in the village of Tatev. To get there we hired a cab to go to the village Halidzor. On our way the driver had to refuel his opel with propane. Around 20-30% of the cars in Armenia are fueled with propane. From Halidzor we took the second longest reversible arial tramway to Tatev.
The Tatev monastry was very impressive, built on a cliff in a beautifull valley. Since we sent the cab back to Goris, we had to find a transportation back from Halidzor to Goris. Coincidencally we recognized a couple, we had seen driving by twice on our way to Goris and asked them to give us a lift to Goris. Dasha and Sasha from Sibiria (sorry guys, I have forgotten the name of your city...) were very friendly and asked us if we also want to join their tour to the “devil's bridge“. The devil's bridge is a rock formation which bridges over the creek in the valley under Tatev. We also did a guided tour under the devil's bridge and explored a cave with warm water springs. 
On the way to the devil's bridge there is also a ancient wachtower that looked as built by elves and manned Elrond himself. Dasha and Sasha then dropped us in Goris. Thanks a lot for this journey!

Goris - Kajaran

Goris - Davit Bek 42 km
Davit Bek - Kajaran 55 km

From Goris, we started going down into the vorotan canyon, the landscape were amazing and we did 15km without effort. At the end of the downhill, we saw what awaited us: the laces of the road going up on the other side of the canyon, climbing straight from 700m to 1700m! The road follows a small corridor between the two parts of Azerbaijan and for this reason can't go around the mountains, so it goes a lot uphill and a lot downhill , but never flat. Actually that day, we were crossing every 100m the border and back, but only officially, as this part of Azerbaijan is controlled by Armenia for a long time.

During the climb, Kim didn't wanted to use his leg too much, which is still not ok. So he tried to grab the back Of the trucks. Unfortunately, he only managed it once. It is a bit like surfing, you need to look in advance to see the slower trucks coming , get yourself at the right spot where the truck won't be too fast, start cycling at the right moment and then grab! And then stay as long as you can. But all the trucks were going the other direction , except maybe 10, from which only two were going slowly enough. So at the end, it just rest his leg for 100m!

We found a nice spot to camp after the main pass, along a small river and enjoyed the warm, Moritz even took a bath in the river!

The next morning was the opposite , it was raining and really cold, so it was not really cool to enjoy the downhill that we earned from the day before. We had lunch in Kapan and then Kim took a cab to avoid the 1000m climb under the rain to the city of kajaran, in order to rest his leg. Leila and Moritz cycled under heavy rain first and then under snow for the last part. It is really incredible, yesterday it was 25 degrees at 1500m, and today it was snowing!

mardi 19 avril 2016

Erevan - Goris

Yerevan-Noravank ca.90 km by bus
Noravank-Saravan 52 km
Saravan-Goris 91 km

We rented a minibus that drove us from Yerevan to Noravank. In Noravank there is a monastery at the end of a narrow and remote valley. Plan was to descend from  there towards Yeghegnadzor and get 8 kilometers for free. Karma was well aware of our cheating. First we could not fi d the tool to adjust the height of Kims saddle and secondly Moritz lost a screw from its lowrider (the thing to put on the bags at the front wheel) and it collapsed. Luckely there were some workers who gave the tool to us as a present and Leila had a screw to spare. Karma got no chance, we are well prepared!
Our way then leaded us through beautiful valleys with rocky hills and mountains on both sides. We ate lunch at a restairand near the road that served freshly made salats of all kinds. After many kebab and  hamburgers in Yerevan we were glad to eat somthing fresh and healthy.
In the evening we set our tent near tje village of Saravan on a hill close to the road but well hidden. At night ee heard so e police sirenes and a policeman shouting through a in the car i  tegrated megafon, as the do often in Armenia. However we were scared that he was shouting to us. He wasn't and we had a good night of sleep.
In the morning we packed our stuff and cycled for the pass between Saravan and Gorhayk. It took us nearly two hours to cycle the 10 kilo,eters to the pass but then we finally arrived on 2390 altitude. Apparently there is a man up there working that speaks some italian.
We ate Lunch at a gas station and Moritz was also fueled with a shot of vodka. As always we thought that once over the pass we would have a slight descent to Gori. But this is Armenia. There were still many hills to climbe. On the upside we had back wind and could also descend the hill. There was even a descend with a smooth road (which does not happen often) and we reached a top speed of 72 kilometers per hour!
To test our mental strenght there was a hill of 300 meters to climbe untill we reached Gori and went to a hotel. Gori is a nice little town (4th biggest in Armenia). Threfore you can look foreward to our next post!

Noravank monastry
2390 meters!
"Rocky moumtains"
Camping spot near Saravan.
Lake near Gorhayk.
So called "flat" in Armenia.
Valley leaving Noravank.
Ladas everywhere. Leila and Kim are already talking about buying the off-road version.