We were very much looking forward to cross the border to Armenia after making such a great experience in Georgia. Also, Armenia has a very old and interesting (yet sad) history. It was the first country in the world, taking Christianity as official religion some 1.400 years ago.
Unfortunately, Armenia has given us a hard time from the beginning. One hour after we arrived in the country, one spoke of Jan´s bike broke. It was the first time that happened to us and we realized we had neither a clue nor the appropriate tools to change it (we had spare spokes though). So right after entering the country we had to change our route significantly and include Yerevan, the capital, in it.
On one hand we were happy we did because the capitals always hold more opportunities to meet with people regarding our project. But capitals are also crowded and expensive cities. And Yerevan especially. In a poor country like Armenia, we did not expect such outrageous prices for accommodation. As we needed to see a bike shop and scheduled a meeting with a political activist couple, we had to stay two night and the best thing we found was a room in a garage with no windows or any other kind of fresh air source. The city itself is ugly and food was also expensive so we were happy when we left, even though passing this heavy traffic was another challenge.
Shortly after leaving Yerevan a strong wind, which we should learn later on would last for one full week, set in. And that was not enough – another spoke broke.
Thank God Armenia is a small country with a lot of bike tourers making their way south to Iran. We met other cyclists almost every day and paired up with some for a couple of days. One of them had the tools we needed to change the next spoke - and another one the day later.
Armenia is a very mountainous country which makes it one of the most beautiful places on earth. But those massive climbs paired with the strong wind made it very hard to cycle.
We ended up being sore and exhausted after one week and started to consider the options of hitch-hiking. We tried several days when the wind was so bad that we have been kicked off the bike a few times. Unfortunately, we did not find anyone to help us. In general, we found Armenian people being rather “suspicious” (not to say racist) towards Jan which closed some doors for help as well.
So, we decided to have a few days rest and wait for the wind to pass at least.
When we left Goris, we were very much looking forward to soon cross the border to Iran, the country which was told to be the most hospitable country in the world. And to be honest, we already felt that attitude 150km before the border. While climbing up those steep mountains, Iranian truck drivers stopped us to invite us for sweets and tea and to even offer us a ride on those narrow, truck loaded roads (which were also in horrible condition). After only 2 weeks we left Armenia with not the best impressions and yes happy we were able to see the country – just for its unbelievable beauty.