The “Envoy” brochure reads; Take a detour from Georgia and spend a day visiting the gems of northern Armenia. If you are short on time but would love the chance to visit Armenia, this tour is especially designed for you. This was clearly aimed at us and fit the bill. We booked.
Envoy operates out of the youth hostel located around the corner from the hotel we stayed at in Tbilisi, Georgia. Emma and Simon had stayed at the hostel and recommended the tour company to us.
Having taken a tour just the day prior we were worried about the hurried driving and pace but this was a much more laid back trip. The driver, Pavel, came up and offered a handshake and introduced himself. Our guide, Bekka, was super friendly, inquisitive and had lots of experience. This was his 50th trip to Armenia. We had the company of three others, a physician from Baltimore, originally from the Bay area, and a young couple from Helsinki, Finland, university students in biology and neurology. We enjoyed the conversation as the van motored on towards the Armenian border.
The brochure continues and reads; Starting from Tbilisi, cross the border to Armenia. Visit two UNESCO Heritage listed sights along the Debed Canyon. Explore Sanahin monastery with its serene and tranquil surrounds before you marvel at the Haghbat monastery, positioned among green fields. Enjoy a memorable BBQ lunch on the banks of the river in Alaverdi. Delight in the ancient frescoes of the church at the Akhtala fortress-monetary before returning to Tbilisi.
Apologies for the cop out; copying text from the brochure. Visiting an area so briefly, it can be tricky to recall the place names correctly. The brochure however describes the trip quite well. What it didn’t describe was the engaging dynamics in the group and the discussions about history, politics and experiences from each of our countries. Bekka had many stories about growing up in the former Soviet country. Even if our encounter with Armenia was very brief, it was interesting to see for ourselves how people live in this northern part of the country.