16908
Azerbaijan/Georgia/Armenia
South Caucasus Odyssey: Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia
Gain a deeper understanding of the South Caucasus as you visit sacred monuments, sample traditional cuisine, attend cultural performances and learn the story of this ancient region.
Program No. 16908RJ
Length
15 days
Starts at
5,250
Flights start at
1,075
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15 days
14 nights
34 meals
13 B 12 L 9 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Baku, Check-in, Orientation
Baku
Qafqaz Point Hotel

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: Once at the hotel, take some time to freshen up and relax before gathering for our opening Orientation session. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Unless specified otherwise, transportation will be provided primarily by motorcoach, which requires ascending/descending a few steps when getting on/off. Field trips and lectures will be led by local experts and accompanied by our Group Leader, unless otherwise noted. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
3
Baku, State Museum of Azerbaijani Carpets & Applied Folk Art
Baku
B,L,D
Qafqaz Point Hotel

Activity note: Walking about 1.5 miles; up to 3.5 hours with periods of standing; cobblestones and some steps in the Old Town. Comfortable footwear is recommended. Driving approximately 37.5 miles (60 km); about 2 hours, mostly in-city transfers.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll have a tasty breakfast buffet featuring some local products. Coffee, tea, milk, juice, water included. Breakfast at each hotel throughout the program will be similar.

Morning: Setting out from the hotel via motorcoach with our local expert, we’ll explore the city center and the Old Town, visiting Fountain Square and seeing other iconic sites as we listen to commentary about Azerbaijan’s Oil Boom. We’ll then get off of our vehicle and begin exploring Icheri Sheher, Baku’s Old Town. With all its winding narrow streets and alleyways, is completely surrounded by walls that once marked the edge of town. Inside are mosques, madrassahs, shops, residences, and carpet merchants that still hint to a time long past. Along the way, we’ll pass by the UNESCO listed Maiden’s Tower – you may wish to climb the 120 steps up the narrow stairway to the top on your own – and the brilliant stone Shirvan Shah Palace, which we will go in. We’ll then go to the State Museum of Azerbaijani Carpets and Applied Folk Art where the vivid colors and bold designs of Azeri, Caucasian and Iranian carpets are on display. Our local expert will lead us through the museum collection, which was begun in the late 1960s, but the carpets in the museum today date as far back as the 16th century. Regional differences and stylistic details are highlighted, revealing how traditional carpets marry practical value, artistic merit, historical significance, and beauty.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have plated meals with tea and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll then venture to the outskirts of the city aboard our motorcoach to visit the Ateshgyakh Fire-worshippers’ Temple with our local expert as we learn about the location’s history through commentary. This Zoroastrian Fire Temple is located in Surakhany village (9 miles from Baku) and was originally built over a burning natural gas vent, although there is no real consensus about when this happened. As early as the 6th century, Zoroastrians lived on the peninsula and some believe these residents could have worshipped here. The current temple was built in the late 1800s by Hindi-speaking Indians living in Baku. The complex is comprised of a walled pentagon enclosing an altar over the fire. Today the gas is piped to the altar because the original pocket of natural gas has been exhausted, but the effect is still arresting. Baku is the beginning of the strategic Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline that runs from the Caspian oilfields through Georgia and Turkey to the Mediterranean Sea.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated welcome dinner together with 1 alcoholic beverage (beer or wine), tea, and water included; other beverages available for purchase. While we eat, an invited guest will join us and give a presentation about tourism in Baku.

Evening: We’ll then return to the hotel. The remainder of the evening will be at leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
4
Baku, Bibi-Heybat Mosque, Gobustan National Park, To Sheki
Sheki
B,L,D
Sheki Saray Hotel

Activity note: Walking about 1.5 miles total throughout the day; periods of standing and walking up to 2 hours total; some uneven, rocky terrain. Driving approx. 188 miles (300 km); estimated duration between 7 – 9 hours total, with stops.

Breakfast: Early buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Once checked out of the hotel, we’ll board our motorcoach and begin our transfer to Sheki. En route but still within Baku, we’ll make a short stop at the Bibi-Heybat Mosque where our local Azeri expert will lead us around the beautiful seaside exterior and offer commentary. Originally constructed in the 13th century in honor of the sister of Imam Ali, the Bibi-Heybat Mosque was completely destroyed in 1934 as a result of Stalin’s decrees. Local legends say that a white-robed woman was seen disappearing into the sea the day after the mosque’s destruction. Reconstructed from plans and photographs, the new mosque was dedicated in 1998. Today it sits near one of Azerbaijan’s first oil fields, developed during the first oil boom in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Continuing, we’ll see the old oil fields on our way to Gobustan National Park where we will go on a field trip led by our local expert, beginning with the new on-site museum and then making our way to an important site featuring ancient petroglyphs. Gobustan was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2007. Quarry workers discovered the rock carvings here by accident in the 1930s and, since then, the carvings depicting men, women, animals and artifacts have been the focus of much study and speculation. Our next stop will be in Shemakha, the former capital of the once-powerful Shirvan Khanate from the 6th to the 15th centuries. While here, we’ll explore the town and visit the 10th century Djuma Mosque, the oldest mosque in the Caucuses.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Shemakha, we’ll have plated meals with tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll then complete our transfer to Sheki and, upon arrival, check into the hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a plated meal including tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Sheki, Khan's Palace, Azeri Music Performance
Sheki
B,L,D
Sheki Saray Hotel

Activity note: Walking about 1.5 miles total; periods of standing and walking totaling about 3 hours; some challenging stairs in the palace. Driving within the city to field trip locations; expected duration about 1 – 2 hours total, with stops.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll begin our day with a walking field trip led by a local expert through charming Sheki. Claiming to have been founded some 2,700 years ago, Sheki is among the oldest settlements in Azerbaijan. Our exploration of Sheki will include a visit to a local market on the way to the mosaic-covered khan's palace with its brilliant stained glass work, called shebeke. We’ll also see the fortress that surrounds the palace with its History and Crafts Museum and go on a walking exploration of local craft shops and bakeries.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have plated meals with tea and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most in Sheki. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Will we then rendezvous to return to the hotel as a group.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a delicious plated meal with tea and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: We’ll enjoy a performance of traditional Azeri musical entertainment. Musical history in Azerbaijan dates from before 3000 BC. The most well known of its musical forms is mugham (moo-GAHM) – a fusion of Persian and Turkic traditions – which has been honored as a World Cultural Masterpiece by UNESCO. This mesmerizing music is usually sung accompanied by traditional instruments, but can be performed instrumentally as well. Ancient and modern poems in the Azeri, Persian, and Arabic languages are set to music using a subtle scale of 84 micro-intervals and no time signature. The resulting unwritten pieces have traditionally been passed from ear to ear as the bases for improvisation by the performers.

DAY
6
Sheki, To Telavi – Georgia, Alaverdi Cathedral
Telavi
B,L,D
Chateau Mere

Activity note: Walking up to 1 mile throughout the day at field trip locations; on our feet for approx. 1.5 hours total; some steps in Museum, cobblestones. Total driving distance is approx. 188 miles (300 km); about 5 hours with stops. Be sure to have your passport and your Azeri E Visa accessible for the border crossing.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll set out aboard our motorcoach bound for Georgia. Upon arrival at the border, we’ll complete customs formalities and transfer over to a Georgian motorcoach for the next five days. The native Georgians call themselves Kartveli and their country Sakartvelo, which means “the Georgian’s place.” In geographical terms, Georgia belongs neither to Europe nor to Asia. Continuing our transfer, we’ll travel through the Kakheti region, the most important wine-grape-growing area of the country. Georgian wine is well-regarded throughout the world and some of the country's best comes from Kakheti. Our local experts will provide commentary throughout the morning on the natural area, the culture of the region, and winemaking.

Lunch: At a private home in the village of Alvani, we’ll stop for a delicious family-style meal, with coffee, tea, water.

Afternoon: Carrying on, we’ll go on a field trip with our local expert to the Alaverdi Cathedral, one of the tallest churches in Georgia and, in its simplicity, one of the most striking. One of the 13 Syrian Fathers, Joseph of Alaverdi, established the first church here. Next is Tsinandali Village, best known for the family estate of Alexander Chachavadze which is located here. A 19th century Georgian aristocrat and poet, Chachavadze managed to serve admirably in the Imperial Russian army during the times he wasn’t fighting Russia for Georgian independence. His estate was a center of the intellectual life of the time. Here he and his father founded the first and foremost winery in the country, which still produces the dry white Tsinindali wine. His mansion has been transformed into a museum, which we will visit, in honor of the poet and hero. After our field trip, we’ll complete our drive to Telavi, the administrative center of the Kakheti region, where we’ll check into the hotel and freshen up before dinner. We’ll then go to our dinner location where we will see a demonstration of traditional bread baking and Georgian churchkela (the wonderful Georgian sweet) making. Local staff will lead the demonstration as our expert explains the process.

Dinner: At a local guesthouse, we’ll enjoy a family-style dinner served at a traditional Georgian Table – an unforgettable opportunity to taste authentic Georgian dishes and local wines while regional performers entertain. Coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
7
To Gudauri, Signagi, Jvari Monastery, Mtskheta
Gudauri
B,L,D
Hotel Gudauri

Activity note: Walking up to 1 mile throughout the day at field trip locations; on our feet for approx. 3 hours total; uneven terrain, cobblestones, some steps. Driving approx. 194 miles (310 km); about 5 hours, with stops.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll check out and board our motorcoach to begin our transfer to the mountain village of Gudauri via the towns of Signagi and Mtskheta. The beautiful hill town of Signagi is known for its cobbled old town square, the nearby Bodbe Nunnery, and the remnants of an impressive 18th century defensive wall that still surrounds part of the city, which we will see part of. The wall’s towers were named for the nearby villages, and the townspeople were meant to gather at their tower in times of trouble. While here, we’ll wander the narrow streets on foot led by our local expert and admire the richly carved balconies and the green Alazani valley below. Leaving Signagi behind, we’ll keep driving toward Gudauri but stop first at Jvari Monastery, an imposing structure atop a hill overlooking the confluence of the Kura and Aragvi Rivers. Our local expert will lead us around the grounds and teach us about the history of the surrounding area.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a family-style lunch with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Continuing, we’ll arrive in at Mtskheta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which was the capital of the eastern Georgian kingdom of Iberia from the 3rd century BC until the 5th century AD. Because of its location and status as the center of Iberian civilization, it was significant spiritually and culturally as well as being an important market town. Many Orthodox churches were built when Georgia converted to Christianity in 337 AD and some are still considered to be among the finest in the country. While here and at the next site we’ll visit, our local expert will lead us around the area teaching us some of the history specific to these locations. Our final stop of the day will be at the feudal stronghold of Ananuri, its notched fortress walls containing two churches and a 12th century watchtower. The old frescoes in the churches are faded, but the carvings around the doorways and on the outside walls are still vibrant. Finishing our transfer, we’ll arrive in Gudauri and check into the hotel. The highest village on the Georgian Military Highway, Gudauri is home to a ski resort built by Austrians with spectacular views of the Caucasus Mountains, which will be our overnight base.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a buffet dinner with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
8
To Tbilisi, Gori, Stalin Museum, Uplistsikhe Caves
Gudauri
B,L,D
Courtyard by Marriott Tbilisi

Activity note: Walking up to 1 mile throughout the day at field trip locations; on our feet about 2.5 hours total; many steps and uneven terrain up to Uplistsikhe Cave Town. Driving approx. 188 miles (300 km); about 4 hours, with stops.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out, we’ll travel to the ancient cave town of Uplistsikhe, meaning “Lord's Castle.” It was once one of the most important towns along the trade route linking Byzantium with India and China and was primarily inhabited by artisans and merchants. People may have populated the naturally-occurring caves before 1000 BC, but it is known that some of the caves were used to celebrate early pagan rituals before the country was fully Christianized. Although heavily eroded and damaged by earthquakes, the town is still fascinating to explore.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a family-style dinner with coffee, tea, water; other beverages are available for purchase.

Afternoon: Our next stop will bring us to the Georgian Military Highway to Tbilisi. En route, we’ll stop to explore the town of Gori. A 7th century Georgian chronicle marks the first mention of the fortress, but the walls that survive today date from the Middle Ages. Gori is best known for its connection with Joseph Stalin, who was born here in December 1879 and lived here until 1883. Stalin's father was a local shoemaker named Vissarion Dzhugashvili and was, by all accounts, a cruel and abusive man. The family’s original wooden hut on Stalin Prospekt is today the fascinating Stalin House Museum. A museum staff member will lead us around the exhibits, including Stalin's private railway car, which used to carry him in style throughout the Soviet Union. We’ll then complete our transfer to Tbilisi and check into the hotel.

Dinner: At a local restaurant in Tbilisi, we’ll have a family-style dinner with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. As we eat, a local guest to provide insight into contemporary Georgian life.

Evening: We’ll then return to the hotel for the remainder of the evening at leisure.

DAY
9
Tbilisi, Metekhi Chuch of the Virgin, Narikala Fortress
Tbilisi
B,L,D
Courtyard by Marriott Tbilisi

Activity note: Walking up to 1.5 miles total throughout the day; on our feet for approx. 4 hours; mostly easy terrain with occasional steps, ascents, uneven surfaces. Driving within the city to field trip locations; expected duration about 1 hour.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll start the morning off with a guest lecture at the hotel given by a local Tbilisi resident about the current state of politics in Georgia. We’ll then spend the rest of the day getting to know Tbilisi, Georgia’s gorgeous capital city, on a combination walking and driving field trip led by our local expert. This strip of Georgia’s central lowlands has long been an important link between East and West and, as Tbilisi is set at the mouth of this passageway in the Mtkvari River valley, it has changed hands many times. As we make our way around the city, we will learn about the area’s history including how King David the Builder and Aga Khan left their marks on the city physically and culturally. Beneath the Narikala Fortress on the hill above, many of the buildings in the red-roofed old town stand as representations of the late 1700s. Our stops will include the 13th century Metekhi Church of the Virgin, which was constructed on an outcropping above the river on the site of David the Builder’s former palace, and Tbilisi’s earliest sulfur baths, probably built during Arab rule in the 7th and 8th centuries when it was discovered that hot springs are just under the surface in the old part of Tbilisi.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a family-style lunch with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll then go to Sioni Cathedral, which shelters the Cross of St. Nino, the remains of the woman who brought Christianity to Georgia, and the 19th century caravanserai built to house traveling merchants. Continuing, we’ll also visit the 4th century Narikala Fortress that seems to grow from the rock above the city of Tbilisi as it keeps watch on the narrowest part of the Kura River. The 8th century Arab occupiers of the city used the fortress’ strategic location to defend their position in Tbilisi and added to the original foundations. When David the Builder re-conquered the city in the 11th century, he again expanded the fortifications. Much of what remains today is from the 16th and 17th centuries and has been recently restored. In 1996, the Church of St Nicholas – once contained within the fortress walls – was rebuilt in its original 12th century style after years of painstaking research. The citadel overlooks the Central Botanical Gardens and offers excellent views of the Old Town. Making our way back down to the town with our local expert, we’ll take some time to briefly stroll Rustaveli Avenue, the city’s main street. As we walk we’ll notice the numerous elaborately carved wooden balconies attached to the houses in the Old Town, an iconic feature of the city's architectural landscape that often appears in paintings. We’ll also stop in to visit a working bakery and a craft studio.

Dinner: At one of the city’s most highly rated restaurants, we’ll have a family-style meal with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. As we eat, local musicians will perform traditional Georgian music.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
National History Museum, Free Time
Tbilisi
B,L
Courtyard by Marriott Tbilisi

Activity note: Minimal walking at the museum; on our feet for approx. 1 hour. More walking dependent on personal preference. Driving transfers in-city; about 1/2 hour total.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll start out the day at the hotel with a lecture given by a local professional on current affairs in Georgia. Next, we’ll transfer from the hotel to see one of the largest collections of ancient gold decorative arts, as well as very well-preserved medieval cloisonne. The mission statement of the Georgian National Museum is to preserve Georgian heritage, but much of what can be seen here is important to humanity at large. The most famous exhibit here, though, is the 1.7 million year old hominid skull that was found in Georgia. Our local expert will lead us around the museum.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a family-style lunch with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Free Time to see and do what interests you most in Tbilisi.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
11
To Yerevan, Haghbat Monastery
Yerevan
B,L,D
Imperial Palace

Activity note: Walking up to 1 mile; some stairs at Haghpat Monastery. Driving approx. 188 miles (300 km); about 5 hours total. Be sure to have your passport accessible for border crossing.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll say goodbye to Georgia and begin our journey to the Armenian border. After customs formalities and changing over to our Armenian motorcoach, we’ll stop in the Lori region of Armenia to visit Haghbat, the perfect place to begin an exploration of Armenia’s spiritual and cultural history. The fortified Haghbat Monastery complex was founded in the 10th century and was periodically added to for over two hundred years. It served as a literary, artistic and educational center as well as a monastic compound. Comprised of atmospheric stone churches, bell towers, mausoleums and numerous kachkar (carved stone crosses), Haghbat was made into a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it is an outstanding example of how Byzantine church architecture was blended with the local Caucasian architecture of the period.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated lunch with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: En route to Yerevan, we will pause in Spitak Pass for views of Mt. Ararat and again at the Armenian Alphabet Monument. Upon arrival in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital, we’ll check into the hotel.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Yerevan, State History Museum, Echmiadzin
Yerevan
B,L
Imperial Palace

Activity note: Walking up to 1 mile throughout the day at field trip locations; uphill to the Cathedral. Driving approx. 30 miles (50 km) total; about 1.5 hours round trip.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Setting out from the hotel aboard our private vehicle with our local expert, we’ll explore Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia – a city older than Rome. As we begin, we’ll stop for a visit to the weekend Art Park, Vernissage, to enjoy some people watching, see how local folks go about Sunday mornings, and to see regional crafts. Continuing, we’ll go to the city center and notice an array of architectural styles integrating Armenian and Russian design. The central square, Republic Square, features fountains in the middle and beautiful boulevards that extend from it to the rest of the city. Surrounded by mountains, one can spot the snowy summit of Mount Ararat to the south and all four peaks of Mount Aragats on the horizon to the northwest. Located in Republic Square, the State History Museum features ancient models of Yerevan, archaeological collections from the Stone Age, and the statues of Catherine the Great and a beheaded Lenin tucked into its back courtyard. It also contains 10,000 original photographs and 5,000 historical documents that chronicle Armenia’s story. The museum recently acquired its current home following a 10-year stint in an obscure building, a period of homelessness, and the repossession of the mosque it once occupied. We’ll explore the collections led by a member of the museum staff.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated lunch with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll then travel with our local expert to Echmiadzin, founded as Vargarsapat in 117 CE, which was once the capital of Armenia and is now the center of an agricultural area renowned for its fruit and wine. It is better known, however, as the spiritual center of Armenia and the seat of its Catholicos, or Patriarch. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000, it is also an important place of pilgrimage for Christian Armenians from the world over. It was here that St. Gregory the Illuminator had a vision of Christ descending to earth, and the Cathedral at Echmiadzin was built on the spot in the 4th century. Today’s version dates from the 7th century and features an intricately carved stone entryway and a fabulous treasury, including a piece of wood from Mt. Ararat said to be from Noah's Ark. The UNESCO Site also includes the ruins of the 7th century Zvartnots Cathedral even though it is miles away from Echmiadzin. Next we’ll go to the nearby Hripsimeh Church sits on the foundations of the 4th century mausoleum of martyred St. Hripsimeh, and was completed in the 7th century. Its complex architecture, unusual for its time, has enabled it to withstand earthquakes. Highlights include the beautifully carved wooden door and the 18th century mother-of-pearl altarpiece. We’ll then return to central Yerevan for an independent dinner.

Dinner: On your own to explore the local cuisine.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Temple of Garni, Geghard, Genocide Memorial
Yerevan
B,L
Imperial Palace

Activity note: Walking up to 1 mile around Garni and Geghard; temple does feature about 10 unusually high stairs. Driving approx. 47 miles (75 km); about 3 hours, with stops.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll continue to learn about Armenia’s spiritual history through a field trip to the religious centers of Geghard and Garni. Carved into the side of a mountain, Geghard Monastery is one of the most fascinating monuments in Armenia. Dating back to 1215, the compound includes monastic cells, churches, tombs and khachkar, all hewn from solid rock. The churches are still functioning and sometimes for special events, such as baptisms, sacrifices of lambs take place. While here with our local expert, we’ll explore the cave-like stalactite-ceilinged building and then gather for a concert of sacred music performed a cappella. Next, we’ll travel a short distance to visit the Temple of Garni, a Hellenistic temple that was built by King Trdat in the 1st century to be his summer palace on a cliff near the Azat River. In 1679 the temple was destroyed by an earthquake but Armenian architects have worked to restore it and the other nearby structures such as the royal baths. Armenia is famous for the intricately carved stone crosses known as khachkar and, while here, our local expert will point them out and explain their significance. These masterpieces can be found in various parts of the country. They are a unique art form, distinct to Armenia, which originally appeared in both pagan and Christian periods. Initially wooden, the first stone crosses appeared in the 4th-7th centuries. We’ll then transfer to a private home where we will see a demonstration given by two professional bakers on how to make lavash, a traditional bread, and then we’ll get to try some!

Lunch: At our host’s private home, we’ll enjoy a traditional plated meal with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Afterwards, we’ll return to central Yerevan and stop at the Genocide Memorial, which stands in a park at the top of Tsitsernakaberd, or “Swallow Castle.” According to scholarly estimates, over one million Armenians perished as a result of policies of the last Ottoman government between 1914 and 1918. Thousands were deported to Syria and faced consequent starvation, while others were methodically massacred. Many of the remaining Armenians fled to other countries in what is now called the Armenian Diaspora. This will be a narrated visit to the memorial only, and does not include entrance to the museum. On our way back to the hotel, we’ll stop for a visit to the fruit and vegetable market.

Dinner: Own your own to explore the local fare.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Lake Sevan, Goshavank Monastery, Free Time
Yerevan
B,L,D
Imperial Palace

Activity note: Minimal walking; some periods of standing. More walking dependent on personal preference. Driving approx. 156 miles (250 km); about 4 hours total, with stops.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll start our day with a drive to Lake Sevan, one of the biggest alpine lakes in the world, at over 6,200 feet above sea level. This popular destination for residents of Yerevan was part of an irrigation and hydroelectricity plan formed by the Soviet Union in the 1930s. Among the results was a quickly sinking water level and, as more shoreline was exposed, resorts and beaches began to materialize. Work eventually began in order to restore the water level of this lovely blue-green lake and, since 2005, it has been rising again. To illustrate the point, a monastery was once on an island in the lake, but it eventually became a monastery on a peninsula. Next, we’ll drive to a neighboring province to visit the beautiful 12th century Goshavank Monastery. Once a major center of religious learning in Armenia, Goshavank is now nestled in a quiet village surrounded by forested hills.

Lunch: At a restaurant in a quiet lakeside setting, we’ll have plated meals with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Free time after returning to Yerevan. Take this opportunity to see and do what interests you most.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a delicious plated farewell dinner with a glass of beer or wine and water included; other beverages are available for purchase. Share some of your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
15
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out is 12:00 Noon. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!