Cycling in a group is very nice especially when you encounter the first annoyance of visa policy as at least you have someone to share your cluelessness with.
I’ve always wondered who will ever be able to read the entry and exit stamps in a passport. The armenian enrty stamp is neon yellow. And Armenia has another own alphabet.
All post soviet countries have these old mini busses called ‘Marshrutka’ (one day I’ll write a post, most likely in german, about how funny german words ended up in the russian dictionary and I’ll link it >>>here) but Armenia has the oldest and coolest ones. And pretty well maintained I have to say…
Lake Sevan is a mountain lake and the biggest lake of Armenia, it is at 2000 meters altitude and you can have a pretty refreshing swim in it after the climb. However it took me quite a while to find a spot that was not covered with litter to film this song.
From Lake Sevan to Yerevan it’s only downhill for 70 kilometers and once you’re there you can enjoy European conveniences, for the last time in quite a while. However, as the end of Ramadan had postponed the process of our Iranian visas we had to leave towards the Iranian border without visas having to catch a bus back to pick them up as soon as they were ready.
The area south of Yerevan is a huge valley beneath Mount Ararat. It is also full of apricot plantations and we were right in time for the harvest. After sleeping under an apricot tree I played a little concert for the apricot pickers and I have to say I never ate so many apricots in my live before.
They gave us lots of apricots to eat on the road. Cycling can be tough with 5 kilogramm of extra apricot luggage. Anyways, I think I’ve had enough apricots for this season.
By the way, did I already mention mountains? Because Armenia has a lot of them, actually there’s mountains almost everywhere so you better eat up all your apricots.
Sometimes after a long and steep descent my hands would hurt from clutching the brakes.
It’s either up or down.
Especially on uphills the trucks are blowing out terrible dark clouds of fumes that you have to ride through. Oh, and for the cars bicycles don’t exist, so you better hold your breath and give way.
An artificial lake in the mountains of Armenia.
The further you cycle south towards the Iranian border the higher the mountains get and the steeper the roads. Also the road quality seems to decrease more and more which doesn’t make buses faster if you for example have to drive back to the capital to pick up a visa. Anyways, very exhausing.
Here’s me during a very funny five-hours drive in the bus back to Yerevan on the Iranian Visa Mission. The bus was full so they sold me a place to sit on a tiny footstool (for the full price). And Tom is an ever worse photographer than me!
And by the way you need to have your Iranian visa to apply for the Turkmenistan visa.
One of these Armenian roads, and this is just the upper 20%.
This is the start of the last climb before the Iranian border.
It’s good that you don’t know how far you have to climb before you’re already up.
But then again it might only be half way to the pass. Anyways, cycling up mountains is always rewarding.