Mr. Ben had the brilliant idea to invite us and our friend Diane on a somewhat spontaneous day trip yesterday. Jarred had already committed to play a softball game at the embassy in the morning, so we didn't actually leave until about 1:00, but even after stopping for lunch at the charming Pascal & Diodato Cafe in Ashtarak (and despite getting turned around a couple of times due to poor signage), we still managed to visit several important historical landmarks through the course of the afternoon. Early September at the foot of Mt. Aragats is clear, warm, and breezy -- just right for a small group of novice explorers. In fact, it was the most relaxing Saturday we've had in a while!
Khachkars at the Karmravor Church (7th century) in Ashtarak.
Trees and gardens surround the St. Mariane Church (1281) in Ashtarak.
An incense burner hangs from the ceiling in St. Mariane Church.
Hovhannavank (7th century) is a large monastery dedicated to St. John the Baptist. It gives the impression of a dangerous beauty, perched on the very edge of the Kasagh river gorge in the village of Ohanavan.
Wall carvings inside Hovhannavank.
Windows, khachkars, ancient inscriptions, and sunlit columns inside Hovhannavank.
Overlooking the Kasagh gorge from Saghmosavank (13th century), a well-preserved monastery in the tiny village of Artashavan.
Nathan plays peek-a-boo with a new friend just his age.
The fading summer sun pours a few gentle rays through this opening in the ceiling of Saghmosavank.
Original red and white paint still clearly visible on columns and archways inside Saghmosavank.
Fresh produce from village farmers is the best kind of souvenir!