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December 3, 2002

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For tourists in Armenia the main activity is to visit churches like pilgrims. We make a pilgrimage to two more important churches: Garni and Geghard. The fun comes by finding these places on public transport. We start without a clue, walking down Yerevan's mainstreet and using broken Russian to ask for which bus to take out of town. Lucky for us tourists are a rare sight, an interesting oddity or diversion, so it's easy for us to find people patient enough to point us to the right bus. Buses ride up and down the streets in a bewildering variety of routes; each bus advertises its route with a number and a sign written in indecipherable Armenian (to our eyes). The buses are cheap, only a few hundred Dram (a quarter). We actually hijacked our bus with an extra thousand Dram (two dollars) to take us off the normal route by seven kilometers and wait ten minutes while we toured the Geghard monastery. We love the entrepreneurial spirit of these bus drivers.
Gerghard Monastery, named after the spear that pierced Christ's body and said to have been held here.
Inside the monastery, follow a cave-like passageway to this massive room that the builders carved out of solid rock in the mid-1200's.
Garni Temple - a pagan place of worship (1st century AD) for Helios, the Roman sun god. Go behind it for terrific yet terrifying views of the river gorge.