Tom arrived on April 28 and stayed three wonderful, glorious, two-parent weeks. Although he arrived in Yerevan around 2:00 a.m., he hit the ground running the next morning. The kids woke him up very early and couldn't believe he was actually here. I had the same sensation. We took him to see sights in Yerevan: the Genocide memorial, a park near our house, the philharmonic orchestra, yum-yum donughts, Grand Candy, the Georgian restaurant across the street, Opera Square, the Metro, and too may trips to square 1 restaurant (kids convinced him to buy him ice cream, brownies and milkshakes - it is a very "American" place). Armine, aka my sanity savior, had us all over for dinner at her house the following day. We drank all kinds of homemade vodka and ate lots of very good Armenian food while looking out over the city.
Then our big trip: The Lori valley - about 3 hours from Yerevan. We took a marshrutka (shared mini-van) and it dropped us off right outside the beautiful Tufenkian hotel next to a raging Dvorzet river and complete with indoor swimming pool. It was heaven. Because a man on the marshrutka told us that the dead writer, Hovannes Tumanian's, house was just up the mountain from where we were staying and the mountain didn't look too big, we decided to hike it the next morning. We set out with water, a few snacks, hats, sunscreen, etc. We thought it would take 30 minutes. We walked over railroad tracks, past a small stream, and up, up, up. We thought it quaint when we saw a penned in part of the mountain with cows and piglets eating. That's about where Madisen lost it and refused to go one step further. Cole lost it about 30 minutes later. Austin had already lost it, but we agreed to carry him for a little while to placate him. Two hours later after begging, pleading, bribing with a taxi ride and ice cream home - and then pointing out to each of them that going down would actually take longer - we walked through several cow pastures to find the only paved road was just outside Tumanian's house. While it was interesting to see how someone in the late 1880's lived (when he was a child), it was not worth going up a mountain for. Tom pulled out the food and fed the hungry beasts. We tried to find a taxi. Nothing. We tried to find ice cream - didn't have it. We asked how to get back down - they pointed to a shortcut through a few different pastures that would take us down the same mountain that we had just climbed up. We got back to the hotel and the kids stayed in the pool the rest of the day.
On the same trip, we saw Haghpat and Sanahin churches. Both are UNESCO world heritage sites and pretty amazing. We swung by Lake Sevan on the way home, but it was rainy and cold - didn't even attempt to get into the water. We did, however, eat well.
On the last night Tom was here, we went to Opera square and hung out with the kids. The pictures from top to bottom: Tom and Cole at a nearby playground, Tom with kids in front of Madisen and Cole Ryan's school, everyone at the Genocide Memorial (check out those flowers!), and Tom and Austin at the Georgian restaurant.