With a friendly “welcome” we are received by the border post. Also the armenian dogs greet us barking. We learned to get off the bike immediately, what is the best method against the attacking dogs. As soon as we stop, we are not exciting anymore.
The first evening in Armenia we camp. As soon as we have the firewood together, a calf-sized, barking dog disturbs our peaceful evening. With a surprise attack we try to banish him, but what had once worked in Albania with a pack of dogs, does not work here. We remember the bear man “Reno Sommerhalder” and change the strategy by talking calmly to the dog. After a whole hour patiently speaking, what a beautiful, friendly and good dog he is, we made it! The dog calms down and sleeps quietly one meter next to our tent. Certainly it would have come to the dance as in the movie ” Dances with the wolf”.
The M3 road to Vanadzor is a single construction site. We fight through a dusty gravel road. Tired we arrive in Vanadzor. Only now we
remember that we have read about the bad condition of this road. Well, can happen. We are glad that we arrived in Vanadzor. In the beautiful cafes we drink tea, cure our cold and wait once more for better weather. After two days of rest we continue towards Lake Sevan. Along the lake Sevan we fight with strong headwind to Martuni. Twenty kilometers before Martuni a dog runs with us. At the finish, he lies exhausted next to our bicycles. We admire his sporty half marathon performance and this against the stormy wind. The next morning the dog whines. It seems he is still exhausted and that his paws still hurt. Nevertheless, he accompanies us bravely, against our advice to stay here, in the cold temperatures up to the Vardenyats Pass (2410müM). He has become a great companion and protector. When a man gives Judith a juicy, red apple, the dog growls skeptically. Another dog joins us.
Now we are even traveling in a group of four, but the fourth traveler is chased away by our protector dog after a few kilometers. On the fast descent the dog can no longer keep up with us and with a heavy heart we say goodbye to him and give him our last piece of bread.
In Vayk we once again wait for better weather. In a grocery store we meet the first english-speaking Armenian. She can answer many unanswered questions about Armenia. The waiting has been worth it! In the most beautiful autumn weather, we make our way over the Vorotan Pass 2344müM. The pass road leads through a narrow, beautiful valley. At the top of the pass we are rewarded with the view of the Ararat (highest mountain in Turkey 5137m) and a snowy landscape.
Shortly before Tatev it goes 600 meters down and then a zigzag road 600 meters up again to Tatev. To avoid this, we take comfortably the Swiss cable car and can save two hours of pedaling. After Tatev we enjoy a great mountain bike trail towards Kapan. As a barking dog comes running from the side, Judith is thrown off the bike due to the abrupt stop on the gravel road. Except for a graze on her knee she luckily gets away from it. Once again we got annoyed by the dogs !!!
In Kapan we enjoy once again the good and cheap hotels from the Soviet time. Again, it is still too cold to camp. After Kapan we go about the last big pass, the Meghri Pass 2535müM. From there it goes down towards Meghri and Iran.
Conclusion: We really liked Armenia. The people are rather reserved, but if you get to know them better, very warm and helpful. We experienced the Armenians, in contrast to other travel blogs we read, as very honest and generous. We only once felt we had paid too much. On the contrary, we were always presented with vegetables and fruits. The infrastructure is better than in Georgia. It has more shopping opportunities with fresh products with a bigger and more varied selection. There are also increasingly nice cafes and restaurants with a more varied selection of menus. Although they are in war with Azerbaijan, luckily we do not notice much of that. In Vayk, however, the military presence is very large. Armenia is surrounded on both sides by Azerbaijan, and the controversial mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh is nearby. More Armenians live abroad than in their own country. However, this is not surprising when traveling the country. Because the country is extremely mountainous with little agricultural opportunities. In addition, most places are on a very high attitude.
The Armenians were also repeatedly expelled from various regions. The genocide of the Turks to the Armenians has not been forgotten. They hold on to Nagorno-Karabakh, which is in Azerbaijan, and probably will never give it up. In our view, this is understandable, since most of the inhabitants there are Armenians and this country was once given away by Stalin to Azerbaijan. The conflict will probably never be resolved. Armenian status is very difficult as Armenia has no natural resources. In contrast, Azerbaijan enjoys a great interest in the world, as they have a lot of oil and buy great reputation with great gifts in the Council of Europe. However, we hope very much that this conflict will soon be resolved, because this mountainous region should be a beautiful hiking region with its many hot springs.