Tag Archives: Armenia

Heading West and By the Numbers

A four hour train ride took us from Pamplona to Madrid.  We got lost in the mesmerizing landscape grinning every time a small village with white stone buildings entered the scene.  Lush were the hillsides and fields of agriculture.

We walked by the Atocha Station a couple of times while in Madrid but discovered a lush garden inside after departing the train.It was an easy listless day – train and then a taxi to the hotel near the airport for our flight back to the USA the following morning.

It was an eight and a half hour flight to Newark where we were to have a quick layover and be one our way to Charlotte.  Upon landing lightening crashed in around us and the plane stood still on the tarmac as the airport closed.  An omen.  A half hour later the plane was cleared to head to the gate.

Unbeknownst to us the airline industry and particularly United was in melt down mode.  It was utter chaos. Cancelled flights and stranded people.  Our connecting flight to Charlotte a victim.

It was 5:00 pm.  A United agent told us it would be days before any  seats would be available. “Check online.” The internet confirmed the worst.

We had places to be!  The following day was our grandson’s first birthday and our son had taken time off of work – we didn’t have days…. who has days???

Quick change of plans – we rented a car and headed to Charlotte driving until dark.  It was 1:30 am Madrid time by the time we stopped for the night somewhere in Maryland.

We arrived at our destination 21 hours late but in time to celebrate.

We visited family, broke bread, raced cars and played with our grand babies. 

United continued its melt down and we feared we’d not make it home to Nevada as scheduled.  It all worked out – both flights harmoniously were delayed and we made it home.Now we shift through months of mail, dust off the house and get ready for summer.  We head out again in 8 days.

Our trip by the numbers:

13 flights, 1 cruise ship, a few boat rides, multiple trains, lots of car rides,  one tram – 34 beds and 18 Countries: South Africa, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros, French Comoros, Seychelles, Omán, EAU, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Spain.

I wore everything that I packed, left one shirt (on purpose) and threw out 2 that I ruined.  I way overpacked even though we just had carry on.  Another lesson learned (again).  Way less is even more!

Thanks for following along!



Armenia – a landlocked country in Western Asia (Caucasus region), sharing its borders with Turkey, Georgia, Iran and Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan and Armenia are bitter rivals disputing their territory since the 1980’s.  Their current war is in the Nagorno-Karabakh border area.  All of Azerbaijan’s borders are closed to land travel.

We had been using a tourist map that showed areas of Armenia denoting treasured historical and fascinating places to see.

Compare maps:

On our drive to Goris our non-English speaking driver pointed out large amounts of dirt bunkers and with his hands mimicked holding a rifle and made a shooting sound and said Azerbaijan.  Upon searching the internet we realized that we were 100 miles from the conflict area.  Click here to read about it.

*click on photos to enlarge

 We’ve since learned that our passage to Azerbaijan is going to be tenuous once they see Armenian stamps in our passports.  It is understood that we’ll get in but will have to prove we weren’t in this disputed region.

Back to the fun stuff – wowza. The capital city of Yerevan is like a European city with stunning architecture, walking friendly, fabulous sidewalk cafes, parks and decorative fountains galore (most of which were being turned on the day before we left).  It felt very family oriented with parks offering rides and games for children.  Don’t get me wrong old USSR is present but the European charm shines beyond it.

The small Russian Lada cars are commonplace and reminded me of an old times.  Like the old American cars in Havana.

On a clear day you can see Mt. Ararat and said to be the resting place of Noah’s Ark.

It was fascinating to learn that it was here in 301 AD when Gregory the Illuminator converted paganism into Christianity making it the first state to adopt Christianity as their religion.  It was a beautiful but tragic story leading to Gregory being thrown into a pit at Khor Virap for 13 years (I climbed down a long narrow ladder 197’ deep, inside the church, to witness this deep dungeon) only to be removed to save the king from utter madness and change the course of history.  The story reads better than fiction and I encourage you to click on this link  to read about it.

There are stories after stories about Jesus, martyrs, Saints, war, genocide.  The churches (Monasteries) are plentiful, grand and magnificent.

Geghard Monastery (the Monastery of the Spear) is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Carved out of the rocks and allegedly where Jude (Thaddeus) brought and stored the spear that wounded Jesus.

The countryside is stunning.  We’re so lucky to be here when’s it’s green.

Some tid-bits:

  • In the country gas lines are run in pipes above ground.
  • Pulpulka drinking fountains bubble fresh drinking water 24/7 (Armenia is known to have the freshest, clean and natural  drinking water).
  • The soil is rocky and lacking trees.
  • They having a thriving wine industry.  In 2008 wine pots were discovered in a cave dating back some 6,100 years making this the oldest known winery.
  • Small cow herds roam the country and are watched by shepherds.
  • Women (mostly younger) worn oversized blazer.  Perhaps it’s back in season?
  • They believe they escaped COVID by drinking vodka!


Lavash made the old traditional way in the countryside and newer more automated way elsewhere.

It was all enchanting and captivating!  Highly recommended.