We took the Envoy Hostel Enlinking the Caucasus Tour to get from Tbilisi, Georgia to Yerevan, Armenia, via a scenic route. The tour is described like this, and my selection of photos here follows this order:
Entering Armenia, delight in the ancient frescoes of the church at the Akhtala fortress-monastery. Visit two UNESCO Heritage listed sights along the Debed Canyon. Marvel at the Haghbat monastery, positioned among lush green fields and then on to Sanahin with its serene and tranquil surrounds. Enjoy a BBQ lunch on the banks of the river in Alaverdi. Sample freshly baked pastry in Aparan. Arrive in Yerevan at Envoy hostel.
I will add just a few comments here and there.
In this first one there is a sculpture of a pair of wedding rings. Couples walk through the rings right after getting married to bring them good luck and a happy marriage.
This church is rare in that it has old murals still relatively well preserved, but the head of Jesus was blown out by a cannonball some 500-800 years ago by invaders from either Mongolia or Iran (I can't remember and can't find it now).
Our delicious group lunch in a beautiful garden with chickens walking around! Barbecue and lots of fresh vegetables.
History (we were told) written on a church arch:
The tombs of three saints? I don't remember the story but need to fill it in sometime:
Beautiful mountains. Lots of sights like this on the tour.
Part of our tour group and our tour guide Hranush in the middle. She was an exchange student in Oregon!
Storage in the floor!
A deadly high rock wall traverse. Ok, not deadly or high. But fun.
Here Hranush told us a teacher would pace back and forth in this hall while his students sat between the pillars on both sides:
Here is the valley that felt so much like the border area between southeast Idaho and northern Utah. Similar hills, land, climate, (non-)humidity, even the gas station felt similar, though the sign was a little harder to read:
Yay for public drinking fountains throughout the Caucasus!
Neat ovens where they bake bread. The workers lean right in and grab the bread. It's crazy hot when standing halfway across the room!
Squat toilets were sometimes seen in the Caucasus.
And then we arrived in Yerevan. This was a good way to travel. Our group included people from Hungary, France, Australia, Czech Republic, Japan, and the United States (us).