Friday, 15 December

Hitchhiking: Yerevan to Tbilisi and Back


My recent meanderings through the streets of Yerevan to snap some good photos turned into an excursion to Tiflis, and back, via hitchhiking.

My companion on the trip was Rozel, a young woman from the Philippines, whom I had bumped into a few days before. She and a friend were asking directions to some store in Yerevan. Too lazy to explain the route, I said I could take them there. During our conversation, Rozel said she wanted to visit Tbilisi to do some paraplanning. I suggested they I come along and hitchhike the entire way.

Two days later, we set out. It was here first hitchhiking experience. She flagged down the first vehicle.

We encountered a traffic accident on the Yerevan-Sevan highway. Luckily no one was injured. But the car was toast.

We saw loads of cyclists along the way.

We got a ride in a car transporting flowers in Hrazdan. There was one seat up front. Rozel grabbed it. I was forced to sit in back with the flowers, sitting on the natural gas tank.

Nearing Lake Sevan, at the village of Dzovagyugh, the mannequin selling fish was decked out in spring attire.

The guys transporting flowers gifted one to Rozel.

Heading to Idjevan.

We had something to eat at this Idjevan café. Tbilisi was a far way off.

A view from the café of the Aghstev River.

Everything was green in Tavoush Province. The trees had blossomed.

The car we were in broke down twice on the road from Idjevan to the Shamshadin intersection. We got out and pushed. The driver fixed the car. We finally made it.

Heading to Noyemberyan.

Our next ride was a large transport truck. It took us almost to the Georgian border. Rozel slept most of the way.

Reaching the border, Rozel was afraid they might not let her in with her passport.

We entered without a hitch. The village of Sadakhlo in Georgia.

It was Rozel’s first visit to Tbilisi.

Traditionally, visitors to Tbilisi make a beeline to eat khnkali (meat dumplings) in Samikitno.

It started to rain. We were still hunched over a map, trying to find the café where we were supposed to meet Lyosha, one of my friends. He was to take us to his house, to spend the night.

The Kiwi Cafe is the only vegetarian-vegan café in the Georgian capital.

Lyosha is the chef there.

The alleyway leading to Lyosha’s house.

The house, located lower than the street, isn’t big. Lyosha says what’s important is that it’s in downtown Tbilisi.

Easter preparations are underway. The stores are bustling.

Cats are omnipresent in Tbilisi.

We met Frida at Lyosha’s place. She told us about a Facebook group in Turkey dedicated to hitchhikers. One of them posted that he was getting married and invited one and all. 500 people from around the country hitchhiked to the wedding. The parents of the bride and groom were in a state of shock for several days.

Tbilisi’s rich and varied street art.

Due to the rainy weather, Rozel never got a chance to paraglide. She returned to Yerevan. I stayed on and met Marta and Irina at the Kiwi Café. I suggested we return to Yerevan together. They had never been to Armenia.

They agreed. We were soon on the road from Tbilisi to Gogavan.

Lyosha’s girlfriend Katya had packed us some veggies for the road.

They guy who drove us to Armenia was from the town of Tashir. On the way, we stopped at the Castle of Queen Tamara.

Marta’s knapsack and sleeping pad got drenched by the rain.

Dusk.

Tashir.

It never crossed our minds that our next driver would take us to this small church atop a hill.

At the church.

At the castle of Ashot II (Ashot Yerkat – Iron Ashot). Our driver and his friend had promised to take us to Stepanavan. It took us two hours to make the twenty-minute trip. They were adamant about showing us all the sights along the way.

We met these guys in Stepanavan. They broke all records of hospitality. At first, they offered to take us to Vanadzor. Later, they decided that they wanted to see their friends in Yerevan. They drove us all the way back.

We reached Yerevan by midnight.

My hitchhiking trip had ended. The girls started to explore Yerevan.

They stayed for two days.

We met Miresh, from France, on Yerevan’s Northern Boulevard. He’s been travelling around for the past eight months. Armenia is the sixteenth country he’s visited. He has no phone and isn’t on Facebook. He pays for his hostel bed by busking on the street.

Marta and Irina are now heading to Minsk. They plan to hitchhike all the way.


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