The priest's song echoes from the bare stone walls. He has taken me to the only part of the monastery that is still in use for over a thousand years ... the church.
The priest is alone. In a blue robe he stands in the middle of the room, reciting, praying and singing. He notices me briefly, he seems to be happy that I am coming and to listen to him. The mysticism of the ancient chants of the ancient oriental Armenian church immediately captivates me, time seems to stand still: A rite handed down over thousands of years has something involuntarily fascinating ...
But the companions are already waiting: Ozan from Izmir, with whom I traveled from Tbilisi, and Marisell and Joanna, two very nice German girls (both of whom speak perfect Russian!), The only other guests in the hotel. Incidentally, this is also a small attraction: beautiful Soviet design, only the fourth floor still seems to be used. The doorman activates the elevator with a key after cheerfully waving at the three guards who hang out in the foyer. But the lady who welcomes us upstairs speaks perfect English - a big surprise!
The evening in the hotel room passed so quickly, full of stories, cigarettes and a good mood, and only when the girls knock on our door at eight in the morning do we notice that there is another hour difference to Georgia !
The bus to the north is already full, but this word is relative in this country ... nobody is left behind. And the gas tanks attached to the roof are so comforting that you don't have to worry about injuries in a serious accident in the hairpin bends of the mountains ... Puff! :)
Marisell and Joanna take over the organization in the Russian town and we quickly have a nice driver who takes us to the world heritage monasteries of the Lori region.
The monastery is lonely on a mountain above a small, sad town, only a few of the once numerous chimneys smoke there, old industrial plants are rusting, huge warehouses are crumbling.
Haghpat also looks gloomy, under the gray overcast sky, medieval, mystical ... We are the only visitors, get lost in the numerous halls, vaults, between the walls and gravestones decorated with crosses and Armenian texts ... it is very impressive. And when the priest begins his solitary Mass, I am finally in another world, a world in which time has stood still for centuries ...
In the afternoon, unfortunately, our paths separate again, the girls take the train to Georgia, and we go to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. The two hostels there are fully booked and our couch surfing requests are only answered negatively. Let's see where we'll stay tonight!
The crew: Ozan, Marisell, Joanna and myself ...