I think one of the best ways to get to know a country is to simply drive around it. Sure, go ahead and visit the capital, but out in the countryside and small towns, I think you can get a sense of what a country and its people are really like.
I’ve already shown you Yerevan (the capital of Armenia), so below I present to you some of the landscapes of Armenia that we encountered driving throughout the country. Hopefully, you’ll obtain a good, or at least better, sense of what Armenia is like.
Ahhh. And I should mention that I have arranged the pictures below so that they are posted in chronological order. Our route through the country was south from Georgia at the Guguti border crossing and down Armenia to Nagorno Karabakh before returning up the eastern side of Armenia and crossing back into Georgia at the the border crossing of the towns of Sadakhlo and Bagratashen. So, based on where the picture is in the sequence, you can sort of get an idea of whether it is in the south or the north or the middle or whatever…
For the pictures taken out the front of the car while I was driving, I apologize for the occasional smashed bug on the windshield. I did my best to avoid these, but some things are unavoidable. And, as my late grandfather observed, “What cannot be cured, must be endured.”
This is just after entering Armenia from Georgia at the Guguti border crossing:
One thing that struck my Italian and I was just how rundown and dreary the towns and villages of Armenia were:
I did find the countryside all across Armenia attractive though:
I thought the scene pictured below (which is a frequent one in the wildflower-filled grasslands of Armenia) was pretty cool… On the grasslands near main roads, beekeepers set up small operations, such as this one, to sell their honey to passing motorists. The beekeepers live in the little caravans you see and look after the bee hives surrounding the caravan.
If you click on the picture once and then again after it has loaded, you will be able to see on the bottom right some jars of honey the beekeeper has placed on top of wooden box frames near the road. This is to indicate that he has honey available to sell:
Another depressing town:
Cattle are an extremely common road hazard in Georgia and Armenia. However, in Armenia, cowboys, such as the one pictured below, seemed to be much more adept at managing the cattle and getting them off or across the roads quickly:
Did you know that apricots come from Armenia? Well, they do, and as we discovered, apricots from Armenia are exceptional. As such, they became a staple of our diet during our visit. Below is a roadside vendor of apricots – a common sight in Armenia:
This picture below is outside of Yerevan on the way to Nagorno-Karabakh and is very near to the Turkish border:
A mountain range separates the East and West of Armenia… Actually, mountain range is a little generous. Let’s say that some very large hills separate the East and West of Armenia:
After making your way through the hills, the road empties out onto this broad plateau where one can make very good time… There are a number of honey operations here such as those that I described above.
And, at least on the days that I drove this stretch, the only traffic seemed to be vehicles connected to the HALO Trust (whose work I have discussed before) as this is the main corridor linking Yerevan to Nagorno-Karabakh where the HALO Trust is active:
Well, I should amend that comment about the traffic on the road to include the HALO Trust and these hay trucks which travel very slowly and seemed to be ubiquitous on blind corners:
Taking some of the back roads of Armenia:
These riders (father and son, I believe) were making their way up Sulema Pass and were many, many miles from any settlements which made me curious as to their destination:
An abandoned village out in the Armenian countryside… I believe I mentioned this before, but it bears repeating – Some of the areas in rural Armenia were as primitive as what I observed in rural Afghanistan:
The lovely Sevan Lake… If you click on the picture once and then again after it is loaded, you’ll be able to just make out a cowboy rounding up a horse in the bottom right of the picture:
This is just outside the northern Armenian town of Ijevan where we spent a night:
Perhaps not surprisingly, in Armenia, the closer one is to the border of Azerbaijan or Nagorno-Karabakh the more soldiers one sees:
I don’t know who she is or what she represents… However, she still stands proudly on a hill just outside of Ijevan, despite being long ago abandoned to the elements, making her a tragic figure in a way:
I was impressed that this guy opted to ride on the front of the hay truck. He had better hope that the driver does not stop quickly:
A father and son team at work in a small Armenian village close to the Georgian border: