One gentleman named Sergey, aged 77, just wanted to chat with me which is what we did for more than 10 minutes. Takuhi, who is only 11, with her friend dressed in red and possessing mesmerizing blue eyes showed me various stones to study. The entire time she explained the images to me—in other words, which form was supposed to represent Satan, how the holy trinity was depicted, what hash marks represented the barbeque, and so forth. She was a very charming girl.
Hayravank is the monastery on the other side of the lake that I had wanted to find for years but I could not get a straight answer as to its location before Julie explained it to me according to a map she found and some tips an acquaintance gave her. The structure is about the same size more or less as the ones found at Sevanavank monastery, which is hugely popular among tourists. There is a fabulous view of the lake from there, quite different from that at Sevanavank. I noticed while I was driving that at nearly every turn around the perimeter of the lake the view changed considerably.
I have been to Sevanavank probably a dozen times. There is no doubt that it is a beautiful place, although it is suffering from remodeling. I use that term because it has been going on for over a year, and all they seem to be doing is laying down some granite stones for walkways and installing new electrical wiring. The last time I was there—about 15 months ago—workers had carelessly unearthed some bones from the graves which were just lying around. I went back to the same spot to see if they could be found but they were missing. I don’t want to even ponder what happened to them, although I have some theories going around my head as I write this.
By the end of the afternoon we were famished and we walked into a diner on the beach at the foot of Sevanavank. We naturally wanted fish and had two choices: sig which is a small-sized type of trout or ishkhan which is a trout that has just about the same dimensions of a salmon. Seeing as the ishkhan cost 25,000 dram (about $85) per kilo, we stuck with the sig, which was only 2,200 dram per serving. It was barbequed but not charred beyond recognition, accompanied with lemon and roasted sliced potatoes. The homemade strained yoghurt served beforehand with black olives was superb. The meal was excellent. I’ve found in my travels that the food at these small mom-and-pop operations is superior to that found in wannabe fancy but more pretentious than anything else establishments. If you are visiting an area where you can choose between a quaint, mellow cottage or a multi-floored “complex” restaurant as they are called here, stick with the quaint. So long as the place is clean you won’t go wrong.
Photos Copyright © Christian Garbis 2008