I can't start the blog today without saying HAPPY BIRTHDAY LUCY! Lucy turned one today, so we of course made a huge fuss of her throughout the day, gave her some presents, and got some balloons and cake to celebrate in our hotel room. Hopefully she will be able to look back on this as a very unique experience - perhaps the first baby ever to make a road trip from London to Yerevan before turning 1! We now also have a final number of 19 countries that Lucy has visited in her first year, which is rather impressive if you ask us.
As for the rest of the day, unfortunately we had to trim our original plans back quite a bit due to neither of us feeling very well still after the nasty stomach bug we passed each other yesterday. This meant we didn't stop at Zvartnots Cathedral or Saint Hripsime Church in order to conserve energy, but we did make it to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin which looked the most interesting of the three. I'll just call it Etchmiadzin to make things easier, but this is where the oldest cathedral in the world is located, as well as being the headquarters for the entire Armenian Church and where their equivalent to the Pope, the Catholicos resides. It is essentially the Armenian Church equivalent to Vatican City. The complex is in the small town of Vagharshapat, about 30 minutes drive from Yerevan city centre, and it wasn't touristic at all, with no car park or ticket system and all the gates wide open for people to stroll around. We parked just outside one of the gates on a side road and immediately noticed how peaceful the area was, with striking new buildings, and well maintained older ones, all within well kept gardens.
We didn't tour the complex in any particular order, but we first went over to the Church of the Holy Archangels. This is a small but very tall cylindrical church in the Armenian architectural style with a dome on top. We then wandered over to the main Etchmiadzin Cathedral, only to find it was closed due to renovation works. We still saw it from a few metres away, but it was quite a disappointment we didn't get to actually go inside to see the interior. The renovation works were making it look not much older than the other buildings around, but I suppose they keep it in good shape given it is their mother church. The first cathedral on this site was built in the year 301, and the current building around year 483, so it wouldn't have survived this long without a bit of maintenance, Despite the Cathedral being closed, the nearby museum wasn't, so we made this our next stop on the complex. The museum is within the private grounds of the Catholicos, so you have to be escorted to it by a guide which departs every 15 minutes. This wasn't clear at all so we were stood outside the ticket office wondering what was going on with other confused people for about 10 minutes before we were allowed through. Tickets were only 1500 DRAM (about £3) and we then got to walk across the private garden of the Catholicos, taking in the huge residence itself as we went. The museum was small being only a couple of rooms, but they had some very precious items inside set into ornaments: a piece of the Holy Cross, a piece of Noah's Ark, and a piece of the Holy Lance. I remain slightly sceptical as to the authenticity of these items, particular the Noah's Ark fragment, but they still felt very interesting to see nonetheless, and at least these fragments haven't been scientifically proven to be false unlike some others around the world.
The museum was our last stop at Etchmiadzin, and we then headed back to the city to take things slow and enjoy the rest of Lucy's birthday. It's a shame we haven't felt very well during our time in Yerevan since it feels we haven't seen everything the city has to offer, but we need to hit the road again tomorrow for our next stop at Tatev.
When we arrived at the Holy See complex today they told us Summer wasn't allowed inside, despite there being stray dogs everywhere. We tried to explain to the guard that Summer is very friendly, but he still told us no. We walked back outside the gate trying to decide what to do, then after a few minutes he came back over and ushered his hands and said "go, go!". We thanked him and were on our way. There was however a whole pack of strays inside including quite a few puppies with very defensive mothers. This resulted in a lot of barking and we had to pick Summer up quite a few times.
Turns out there are a fair few EVs in Yerevan and the charger outside our hotel is in high demand. We finally saw it free when we got back from the Cathedral, only to be told we couldn't park in the space because the team coach of Red Star Belgrade needed to pick up the team from our hotel in time for their Champions League qualifier with the local Yerevan side at 9pm. I then half blocked the space so no one else could take it, and waited for the team to board their coach and leave before charging up.
- EcoCars charger Republic Square, Yerevan. Like Solara AM you have to load credit into the app beforehand, but it isn't expensive at 100 Dram (about 20p) per KW.