Ready for part two
After being sick for four days, not eating at all, and having to go to the garage with Alexine we are finally ready for part two of the Silk Road Advanture. A good start is half the beginning, but so is a bad start, innit?
The abandoned textile factory
While I park the van, Yuri is on the phone with a guy called Karen. His father owns a textile factory in the village we are and we would like to visit it. You might think, why would you want to visit a textile factory? Well, this factory opened in 1976 (the year Alexine got built) and closed after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Ever since it has been abandoned. And as most, we love untouched things. So we made a deal with Karen and not long after we met his father Hayk in Yeghegnadzor.
The factory has never been opened again after closing. It didn’t have anything to do with the quality of clothes they were producing here but mostly with the wars (like Nagorno-Karabach) following the fall of the Soviet. Money was used to buy weapons not clothes. In the factory things have been left as if no years have passed since then, except for the dust and spider threads. Pictures of naked women adorn the insides of closets, books about Lenin are filling otherwise empty bookshelves and the hammer and sickle is drawn on one of the machines. The ground floor is filled with machines that once produced very cute children’s clothes, while the first floor is less packed. Here women clothes, like gloves, were made. They also produced protective clothing for a possible nuclear war in this factory. Thirty plus years ago they prepared for a nuclear war, we might need those clothes in the near future.
After a small tour by Hayk we had coffee and ponchik (delicious Armenian deep-fried piece of dough shaped into a flattened sphere and filled with confiture or other sweet filling) and talked about his children and grandchildren, talking different languages and good music (he plays Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, Rolling Stones on piano!). We had a wonderful time together and recommend everyone to do this “tour”.
In late 1920, local communists came to power following an invasion of Armenia by the Soviet Red Army, and in 1922, Armenia became part of the Trans-Caucasian Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1936, it became the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. Russia to this day stays an important ally to Armenia.
From Yeghegnadzor we drive about half an hour to Vernashen, not because it is so far away but because the road is in a bad shape.
Holes in the road made us zigzagging to the next village but Alexine doesn’t seem to mind, she’s found her power back, and so did I.
Let’s hike, cause when life gives you mountains you put on your boots and hike.
Hiking to Spitakavor church
I am here at a super cute church after walking for 1.5 hours and climbing quite a few meters. The view from here is magnificent, although the mountains hide behind a somewhat hazy weather, it is no less beautiful. The little church behind me is lucky with its view. Perhaps the reason that the monks once built it here. The birds are chirping and the bees are buzzing, unfortunately the sun has just disappeared behind the mountain and so I am shrouded in shadow. But it does not matter because after about 8 km of walking, of which the majority was quite steep up, it is nice to relax here.
And how lucky I am that I can go to places like this. That I have the ability and the heart to embark on an adventure like this.
After days of not moving it is so nice to walk again. Pumping my heart rate up, feeling the pain in my legs and shortness of breath from the exertion. It is wonderful to exhaust my body again, to be active and to switch off my thoughts. What a wealth this is. And it went very well, even after four days of not eating anything, almost not knowing where to look from dehydration and having slept for hours. I went like a mountain goat so quick, and felt almost as light as a feather. Once again my condition did not let me down.
At the end of the route we were invited to a farmer for some coffee. There was also food and of course a much too strong alcoholic drink. My throat was immediately on fire. It looked like the farmer himself already drank a few of them. The calves and bulls looked at us curiously while we ate the delicious cheese with bread and honey. A welcome feast after that big climb. It was a pleasant stop, but we decided to continue anyway, because we still have to reach the church.
And so we got there. Super cute, very small, old, with very nice details, like most Armenian churches. The view is the cherry on top of the cake. Although the mountains are somewhat poorly visible, the contours leave room for imagination.
It’s half past seven and we still have to go back. So after Yuri has recovered from hitting his head (nothing new) we start our way back. It is said that it takes us along a river and waterfalls. We still have 1.5 hours before dark. A race against the clock? Or a beautiful relaxing walk back? This time we are prepared: we did bring lights for the way back, we didn’t bring enough water for the way up. But we are getting there, slowly slowly 😉
The way back
From the church we decided to head another way back. One through the valley and gorge. We made the right choice. The route took us alongside the small river and it was so incredibly beautiful! All was green with little trees filled with white blossom, the rippling water, birds singing. No humans, just nature, views and a setting sun. As it was all downhill we went quite fast and even though the hiking route should be about 6 hours we did it a lot quicker. Though we took our time taking photos, video’s and enjoy the scenery.
Normally my knees would tell me to slow down but again, I felt as light as a feather. I guess the foodpoisening did me some good 😉 We walked through the gorge like we never stopped exploring, like we didn’t spend the last six months in the Netherlands. There is one difference, we do appreciate everything a lot more now. The fact that we can do this, that we can explore areas like this, that we are able to live like this. Even if it’s just for six months.
And so, we inhale the fresh air, take a deep breath and realise no one can take this away from us. Like mountain goats we jumped up and down the river stream, hiked past the deep gorge, over stones back to Alexine. Where we celebrate our first long (15km) hike with a beer and some snacks. Ready for more!
Check the slider below for some impressions of the hike.
Love, Milene & Yuri
Yeghegnadzor & Vernashen
The abandoned factory is in Yeghegnadzor and the hike to Spitakavor starts in Vernashen.
Not in winter
The factory you can actually visit in any time but best on a sunny day for the light. The hike is best from spring to fall.
Karen & Hayk
To visit the factory contact Karen (send message for contactdetails) he is the son of Hayk and speaks English. Hayk only speaks Armenian, Russing and a bit of German.
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