Today I learned that genealogy isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Literally, I’m still recovering from the rain, thunder, and lightning. After such an incredibly successful visit to Bijacovce where my maternal ancestors came from, we decided to check out a village on the other side of the family.
The last couple days have been a total whirlwind, but I’m currently on a plane from Istanbul to Budapest, where I’m spending the next two days.
Dad and I had a great and busy last day in Armenia. We started off the morning with a trip to a local market in Yerevan that pops up on the weekend. We’d read that you need half a day to spend there, but it was hard to imagine that until we got there. The market was huge. It just went on and on and on, full of all sorts of crafts, jewelry, artwork, wood carvings, and carpets.
Today has been an incredibly long and exciting day! We were on the road for about 13 hours, but man, we covered a lot of ground. I’m so exhausted, so this post is going to be brief on the writing, supplemented by more photos.
This morning we visited the Armenian Genocide Memorial Museum, and it’s hard to know how to write about it, let alone think about and process it.
For those of you who don’t know, which is probably most of you, considering this genocide isn’t taught in school or really mentioned in any major histories of World War I, the Armenian Genocide was the systematic extermination of an estimated 1.5 Million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire beginning in 1915.
Another cool day over in Armenia. I’m definitely getting a better sense for the country, and for Yerevan in particular.
The big highlight of today was visiting Etchmiadzin, a town very nearby Yerevan. Etchmiadzin used to be the capital of Armenia, and is home to four incredible churches, most notably the Etchmiadzin Cathedral.
It’s been a long day, but I’m safe and sound in my hotel in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.
We left Tbilisi today at 10 in a car driven by a big friendly Georgian man with the deepest, growliest voice I’ve ever heard. He was like a character from a cartoon – it was awesome. What was less awesome was the lack of seat belts in the back seat – for some reason, so many cars in Georgia have seat belts but then the buckle part has been taken out, and we have no idea why. Anyways, Dad made me ride up front where there was a seat belt, which meant I got some awesome views.
Today we had a lovely half-day trip to Mtskheta, which I’ve finally learned how to pronounce. Mtskheta was the old capital of Georgia when it was called the Kingdom of Iberia until about the 5th Century when it was moved to Tbilisi. Mtskheta is still the religious capital, though, and after visiting today I can definitely see why.
I forgot to mention that last night we had such an awesome night wandering around Tbilisi!
We had gone out during the day, but with the crazy heat it wasn’t very busy, and it was hard to keep going for very long. We did manage to stop and eat some more Kinkhali for lunch – we’re both definitely getting the hang of how to eat them. Dad describes them as inside-out soup, which sort of makes sense. They’re like little pockets of delicious broth and meat or mushrooms. We assumed they added the broth, but we learned today that the broth comes out of the meat naturally, which probably explains why it’s so delicious.
It’s hard to know whether Georgia is amazing or whether they just get you really drunk so that you think it’s amazing. Either way, I had a great day, so whatever it is they’re doing; it’s working.
Today we visited Kakheti, Georgia’s wine region. It’s a bit like our Okanagan, where they grow grapes for wine as well as fruit and vegetables of all sorts. It’s also the hottest region in Georgia, but we got lucky with a cooler, overcast day.
What a day! I am absolutely exhausted, but Dad and I are up trying to sort out and book another day trip for Sunday, and it’s a lot more difficult than it sounds! We’re choosing between a few different places, but leaning towards the Kakheti region in the east of Georgia, the birthplace of wine (supposedly).
The photo above is one I took of Mount Kazbegi, the highest peak in Georgia, and our final destination on today’s trip. But we saw a lot more before arriving to the mountain.