We thought we would have been moving on by now, to new locations in Armenia, because we have only seen about half of what we came to see, but we just aren’t motivated to do so. The longer we stay at this no-name hotel and restaurant, the more we like it! We have come to realize from our continual travel, the longer we stay in one place, the more we get to immerse ourselves in the culture, the more we understand about the people, and the greater part is getting to really enjoy some good local traditional foods! I will post a pretty interesting New Years blog post about more on this.
We continue to be the only guests at the hotel, so we have a whole top floor to ourselves. It’s very peaceful, private, and quiet, and hard to give up; so is the $6 a night price! We are planning two; three-month visits in Europe in the new year. (God willing) so its always good to have a chance to save some coin. But, the restaurant has their regular customers, on occasion. Even on Christmas Day, they had other diners, so we didn’t feel guilty for somebody having to cook on Christmas just for us. The weather has been sunny and beautiful, so we are just enjoying our surroundings very much. We arein a rural area and not in a town or city. Our Holiday destination is ending up to being mighty good!
Yesterday, we drove into Gyumri (about 20 miles round trip) to go to the grocery store, pharmacy and to wash the car. It was great to be out again. I had also collected many left-over food items and found more hungry dogs to feed. We have decided to stay in this hotel, till after the New Year, just to make sure we can find open places for lodging, when we leave. Holidays and full-time travel is tricky on years without a pandemic. We are also taking full advantage of the coziness of our digs, plenty of time to cuddle, read, book-write, watch documentaries or movies, and nap. We just feel so happy right now, living in the moment.
Hopefully after the new year, we will get to launch a new facelift to this website. Much work has gone into this phase, so it’s nice to have the downtime to finish! But, tomorrow we will take a full-day road trip to try to see two sites. (five hours, just in drive time; round trip). We love sightseeing and showing you interesting places, so we are excited. With the sunny weather, and no new snow, it does seem to help the roads clear in many places. It’s still 1-7 degrees at night and 30-34 degrees during the day, though.
In other news, A few days ago, out of the blue, I was contacted by one of the tour operators from back when we were in Egypt and toured the Nile, by boat. If you are new to following us; back in January and February, 2020, we made our second trip to Egypt. Our focus was a boat tour from Luxor to Aswan, and another boat tour from Aswan back to Luxor. Both tour companies were a disappointment, and the result of a broken down boat for 12 hours, was included in the complaint. BUT, the biggest disappointment was FINALLY making it toAswan, so we could depart the boat by vehicle at 4:00AM to go to our much anticipated site of the Abu Simbel Temples next to the Sudan border. We were so excited!…. only, our guide and driver did not show up! A staff member from the boat was nice enough to contact the tour guide for us, because we had no signal while on the Nile, and we were told “I don’t feel like coming!” from the guide! WTH! No guide and no vehicle out in the middle of nowhere. The reason for the early departure was because of drive time and tour time, AND to be able to return to the boat, before it disembarked. Aside from being really ticked off, we missed the main reason for returning to Egypt for this second visit! Anyway, the purpose for the tour company contacting me was; he wanted me to delete my Trip Advisor review, because it was not favorable. I told him I could not do that. I spoke the truth, and hoped to spare others from being as disappointed as us. We do not take spending money on tours, lightly. I asked for a partial refund, after returning to Luxor, and because I was not taken seriously for my complaint, and got zilch, I felt compelled to post my review. I do reviews when we have an excellent experience, or a fail. Anything in between is not noted, if it’s acceptable to us. It all began when purchasing our tour through Viator, only to learn after we arrived in Egypt, the tour companies and my contacts did not know what Viator even was. How that can be, when they advertised through Viator, is beyond me. We could not find our return boat at the designated port, and when we did, they were not expecting us! My confirmation information from Viator meant nothing to them. We were told we could pay for the boat tour, as they did have room. WTH again! We had already pre-paid! We have done so many tours out in the world. Some are better than others, but we never had quite the fail as we did in Egypt, on the Nile River boat tours.Sorry-not sorry, my Trip Advisor review remains.
All that being said. We would never discourage anybody from going to Egypt. It is a mystical ancient place, and is well worth the two trips we made. (we went to Cairo, and Giza for the Pyramids and Sphinx on our first trip) AMAZING!.Even though the Nile Cruises were not up to snuff, we visited many ancient sites and other temples while on our second trip to Egypt. In fact, you can go to our “archives” at the bottom of our first page, on this blog website, by clicking on Africa, and then on Egypt; click on “older posts” at the bottom of the pages as you scroll along to see photos with read historical facts from our visit. ALL we did get to see was incredible! We love Egypt, but do be aware of the Nile Boat tours. There was not a lot of reviews to go by, when I was researching. I also learned booked tours are bought by other tour companies, so they work separate from the boat owners. This explains so much on why all the confusion. Take note, the Nile River is not the only way to get to Aswan. If we were to plan again, we would skip the boat tour on the Nile and go by car along the Nile to see the many ancient sites.
On a happier note, our wonderful daughter shipped me two flat-rate boxes from American to Armenia with some much needed items, and the time-frame was indicated at 7-10 days for delivery. However, the postal clerk in America added; “but it is Armenia.” 😬 Hmmm, trying to take that with a grain of salt. We still have no neighboring country borders open, so here we will remain for awhile, just as we anticipated we would. Winter and COVID19 do not make a good match, so we must adjust our dreams accordingly. I’m sure we are not the only ones looking forward to Spring, and the hope of life opens up again. In the meantime, we always find ourselves feeling grateful for so many things that are going right, during these challenging times!
Merry Christmas one and all on this most special day of the year. While this year has been a struggle for so many; actually everybody I know, including us, we find the strength through our Saviour to put one foot in front of the other and Keep On, Keeping On.
We look forward to the new year and pray mercifully for the pandemic to come to end, so we can all feel better, on so many levels!
In the meantime, we awoke to a beautiful sunny Christmas Day with blue skies! We got another fresh layer of snow, sometime in the night. Looking at the beauty made my heart feel so full. We have never been in a country at Christmas time, where we did not see at least some Christmas lights and/or other Christmas decorations. We have not seen any decorations of any kind this Christmas season, in Armenia, but it just goes to show us, while decorations are festive and very pretty, they are not required to make Christmas, Christmas. The Reason for the Season is what’s its all about.
Did you know, there was a time, we got to visit Bethlehem (in Palestine) while on a “Believers Tour” in Israel. It was very special to enter the church that has been built over the stable and manger where Jesus was born so long ago; making his birth, Christmas Day, ever since!
This Christmas, finds us in a wayward place out in the world, in a town that we can not even pronounce, properly. While Armenia was not our first choice for a Christmas adventure, it is working out just fine. We feel grateful to remain out in the world, with so many borders closing (again) for the winter. As I had hoped and prayed, prior, we found the perfect place to park our car for awhile and indulge in the White Christmas we are so enjoying!
Have you ever made Snow Ice Cream? With the fresh snow, I collected several small plastic containers full and mixed it with Sweetened Condensed Milk and a vanilla flavored milk. Normally I use vanilla flavoring, but we haven’t found any in stores in Armenia. Anyway, I mixed the fresh snow with the two ingredients and it becomes really tasty and creamy within minutes! YUM!
We are the only two people in this hotel “with no name,” and we have everything we need for the downtime we are experiencing. We are paying $6 a night for a suite. Daryl and I really, really like each other, so this comes in very handy when we share a full-sized bed. (Daryl is a big guy) We are as close as soulmates can be! We have heat, hot showers, and a restaurant downstairs. The food is good, but not a lot of variety, because there is no English menu with photos. The translator app in Armenia does not allow downloading photos, so since we rely on that piece of technology, what we get for dinner, is always a surprise. The woman who is around most, is Russian. She will talk to us in Russian, and our confused faces make no difference.I try to translate using Russian, but one never knows if a person is literate or not.
For Christmas dinner, we got mashed potatoes and Pork Kebabs/Pork Chops. For dessert, we had brownies and homemade snow Ice Cream. Not too shabby! The best part is no cooking or clean-up!Just a little elbow grease to make the Ice Cream.
Something we have learned during our last two stays in Armenia, is the Russian culture do not put much value on privacy. The Russian staff will just walk into our room, like it’s perfectly normal. We always lock our door at night, but we have learned to do so in the daytime, too, lately. Funny story: Here in the no-name hotel, we stayed in one room for the first two nights, then asked if we could move to another room that is bigger, has a couch and a better bathroom. Daryl really likes a couch. There is one young man here once in a while and he is Armenian, so we can communicate with him using translator. No problem, we could change rooms and on Christmas Eve morning we did just that. Since we are the only guests, we “borrowed” the comforter from the first room along with the pillows and between the two rooms, we finally have enough towels so we can use one for a hand towel and still each of us have a bath towel. In many countries hand towels are not a thought. (There are eight other empty rooms, so we did not think it would be an issue to keep our first room towels). The language barrier is so exhausting sometimes, and we figured when we saw the Russian lady we could try to communicate our desires for the extra pillows and comforter for the sofa. Well, we got moved, and this was obvious to the staff, because of us walking back and forth in the hallway, above the dining room and kitchen. We had just finished moving to the other room, when the Russian lady came walking in. Daryl was in the bedroom, and I was in the living room. She pointed to the (extra) pillows I was usingand the comforter, then I motioned praying hands and said please? She spoke to me in Russian; still words I did not know, then she marched into the bedroom where Daryl was sitting on the bed plugging his electronics in, and the woman grabbed a pillow off the bed from next to him and walked out! I got up and locked the door. Daryl and I have been laughing about that, because its just such unusual behavior from where we come from. I was getting ready to take a shower, but luckily I still had clothes on! Daryl is very passive, so it kinda made sense for the Russian lady to move from me to the big guy. Im not saying I’m not mild-mannered, but I was using the pillow and comforter at the time. When we arrived at this hotel, we asked for extra towels and pillows. (everywhere we go, we do) and I always offer to pay extra if need be, though we’ve never have had to. I had even done translator with the one Armenian guy and he said no problem. But, there was a problem, because nobody ever gave us any extra pillows. So, we had an opportunity to get set up and we hoped for the best. I mean if it was a full hotel, or even half-full, we would not have felt like there would be extra, but…..
Daryl and I do not buy Christmas presents for each other per-say, because our gift-giving is all year long and comes in the form of full-time travel and being citizens of the world. It is our time, now, to be doing this, and we are grateful!
We did receive a bit of a Christmas Miracle, when we FINALLY got a letter sent to our daughters home, we have been waiting for since August! This very important letter is crucial because (if you have not been following us) we got blindsided back in Agusut when Daryl did not get paid from a retirement source we rely on for our traveling. There is much to work out, but without this letter, we could not get our lawyer involved; because she needed to see what all the letter was saying (as we did). The way we found out there was an issue, is when payment did not come in one month last summer. What an unexpected shock after so many years! Anyway, we got the 16-page letter with all the detail, yesterday! My daughter was on it, and got it to us, (text) and we were able to get it our lawyer, by email. That is our Christmas Miracle and we could not be more grateful! Hopefully, 2021 will bring some resolution to this situation, which, by the way, we have already appealed against their determination, but we are running out of time against a final decision. To get that letter resent has been a nightmare! We have been asking for that letter we never received in the mail, to be resent, from way back in June! Whew, just in time, and though it is Christmas week, we hope to speak with the lawyers after the new year and get this thing resolved.
Another strange thing that I’ve been dealing with, is getting my renewal drivers license in the mail. Since the DMV are short staffed, due to the pandemic, it takes longer than ever for renewals/replacements to get done; like six to eight weeks. I paid may fee online and applied for my renewal way back on October 6th. Fortunately, I am able to provide a mailing address, as well as our home address that matches my license. Anyway, I had tried calling DMV any times, but an hour on hold is too much! I tried and failed at many emails and robotic chat options, till finally a technical assistance human, put me in touch with the right email. I had been in touch with our tenants in our home to be on the lookout “just in case,” but they had seen nothing from DMV. Within another week, I finally got a cryptic message, and was able to figure out how to reply to it and learned my license had been renewed, but returned to them “undeliverable” from my daughters address, which we had verified as our mailing address. Why? Nobody had any answers. We know the address is good, because we are receiving other mail, AND we finally got the recent miracle letter at the same address! So, we now must wait another 2-3 weeks for my license to be mailed again. By the time I get my current license now, it will be expired, and I won’t be able to drive for awhile.
That’s life in the fast and slow lane, being a world traveler. We have dealt with replacement bank cards that have worn out, and it has gone the same way; even before the pandemic year. It’s just not easy dealing with such things, living as we do. Thank goodness for the electronic era! We carry on the best we can.It’s part of the life we choose.
Did you know we are more than three quarters of the way through our nomad lifestyle? We have been steadily traveling for over three years. Our goal was to be gone five years, but we may stay out at least six months longer, due to the slow way of moving with the pandemic upon us. By spring, we hope to be in Europe for three months, after we complete our three more country visits in Southeast Asia, then we will be moving to South America, also going to Antarctica, which will be our last continents to explore to our hearts content. (we will go back to Europe at least one other time, after this next time, as well as Iceland and Greenland. The plan, at the end of our foreign travels, has always been to stay for about nine months in one or two foreign places where we will feel led to volunteer our services; “someplace.” No answers as yet, where this will be, but we have in our hearts to do and it will be someplace that needs us.
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