Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Lake Sevan

I decided I fancied going up to Lake Sevan to have a look at Armenia's biggest lake. I even found accommodation advertised as a beach house, so I booked it. Asking at the hostel, they told me to go to the "northern bus station" and get a minibus from there. You can get a bus there, but a taxi was only 2,000 drams, so it seemed hardly worth the hassle. "Northern bus station" made it sound a lot more impressive than it is. There were about 5 bays with minibuses in them. The Sevan one had 2 seat left, and they leave when they're full, so we were soon off.

The trip takes about an hour and it's dual lane motorway the whole way. Obviously I had no real idea where I was supposed to get off and eventually go off on the peninsula with the Sevanavank monastery on it. It was originally an island, but the same Soviet genius responsible for destroying the Aral sea also implemented a plan to drop the level of Lake Sevan. The monastery looked suitably pretty from a distance, but by this stage, I'd seen enough of them for a lifetime, so I decided to have a beer on the shoreline instead.

Then I set about getting a taxi to my accommodation. After some discussions involving three people, the driver seemed to have an idea of where it was and I got in his Lada, the windscreen of which seemed to be more cracks than glass. We headed off up the road somewhat slowly. It could just about do 60 km/h and whenever we got that "fast", he put it into neutral presumably as part of some genius fuel saving plan. Then we went past a sign with the name of the place on it. The only downside was that it was on the other side of the road, but bumping across the central reservation soon fixed that and we were going down a dirt track to the shoreline.

The accommodation was indeed a chalet and there was a bit of a sandy beach. There was also a big herd of cows just the other side of the fence, but the sun was out and it was a bit cooler than Yerevan which had been too hot for the last couple of days.

It really was a place you needed a car though. The town was quite some distance. My trusty SatNav app showed a brewery not too far, so I decided to walk there. It was a bit strange. They had beer pumps that dispensed straight into 1 litre plastic bottles. There were some tables and they did bar snacks, but most people had come for takeaways and there was a big queue, so the place didn't really fit the bill as somewhere for dinner.

The app said there was a restaurant just 100 yards down the road. The building didn't look like a restaurant but this guy assured me it was and took me out the back which looked even less like a restaurant but there was indeed a family eating a meal in one room and I was shown to my own room which had a table for 6 in it. The food was BBQ fish and was really good, and the beer was of course from just down the road. It's a German owned brewery and it showed as it was significantly better than most Armenian beer I'd had. It explained the big queue.

The next morning it was cold and grey with a bit of drizzle. Well, the lake is at 1,900m. I walked into town which was a bit of a distance and eventually found where the minibuses went from mainly because some guy took pity on me when I looked lost and told me where I needed to go. It was another hour ride back into town. It was still stinking hot in Yerevan though that evening there were thunderstorms.

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