Lost and Found on Armenian Roads

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“For the last 13 days we’ve been traveling through Armenia and Georgia on a rented car, a regular car, not 4×4 or a jeep. And we’ve been using GPS navigation on my phone. Turned out, Google maps uses almost everything as a road here in Armenia. The story, I think, consists of two parts. The first part is us driving from Stepanavan up north, where we wanted to visit some monasteries. And we used the navigation. In the beginning, the road was more or less fine. And then the GPS said, “Turn right.”

We drove through a village, and then the road went up. And it was a pretty nice road, we had a great view over the canyon. So we decided to drive on. Eventually, the road got worse, more potholes, then only small pieces of asphalt every now and then. The road got smaller and soon we were driving on a mud track. A lot of curves. It was scary at times, and I’m not an experienced driver. At some point, we felt like we had no choice, we had to keep driving, and the GPS kept saying 7 minutes left, 7 minutes left. And eventually, we ended up on what seemed to be a regular road. So, that was the first part.

That same afternoon we visited the Sanahin monastery, and we were on our way to the nearby monastery of Haghpat. And again, we were following the Google maps. At one point, the road split. One was going straight, and the second one going up. The one going up was much more promising, it looked like a normal asphalt road. But the GPS said, “Go straight!” We looked at each other and decided to go up. And same thing happened, the road got worse, and eventually it almost disappeared. But we were still thinking we are going to Haghpat monastery, so it’s worth it.

At certain point, GPS kept saying 7-8 minutes left, and it didn’t get less. And we were driving, and eventually, we reached the peak of the mountain. And there was a village there, but no monastery. People in the village looked at us like, “What are you doing here?” One guy, very friendly, came to us. He spoke some German. We talked to him, and he showed us directions, and eventually he invited us over to his place for vodka. But we had to leave, because I still had to drive down. We saw the Haghpat monastery 4 days later, when we came back from Tbilisi.”

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