Day 1: Astoria Hotel, Tbilisi Driving: 0, Dinner
Airport arrivals. Transfer to the hotel in the city center. Check-in. At 7.00 pm we will meet in the lobby of the hotel t meet the group. At 7.30 we will meet our guide and at 7:45 pm walk to Funicular train station, take the train to Chela restaurant at the top of "Holy Mountain" - great views of Tbilisi! After dinner, return to Astoria Hotel.
Day 2: Astoria Hotel, Tbilisi, Driving: 0, Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
8:00 am -Sitting. Our reserved private room is located by walking through the breakfast room on the first floor. Breakfast and departure at 10:00.Guided walking visit of Tbilisi. Walk past the Tbilisi Conservatory where de Hartmann taught, the place where Mr. Gurdjieff brought the Movements demonstration and offered his meetings (from outside). Walk past the National Opera building. At the end visit of the National Museum followed by lunch (included).In the afternoon, exploration of 18th-19th century Tbilisi Old Town sites including various houses of worship (mosque, synagogue, Armenian St. Gevork Church, Georgian Sioni cathedral) and the bathhouses. Private time booked for 2 hours 5-7 pm, VIP room for men luxury smaller room for women.
Steam bath and 2 towels included. In the end, we walk together to the restaurant (private room dedicated only to our group) and a van will drive us back to our hotel for the overnight.
Day 3: Gino Mtskheta hotel, Driving: 1h, Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
7:00am - Sitting. Our reserved private room is located by walking through the breakfast room on the first floor. Breakfast, check out and load buses. 9:00 am a departure for additional activities in Tiblisi: meeting with a local famous iconographer, followed by the visit of the icon museum. Depart for Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia (45 minutes). Guided visit to the UNESCO heritage site, the 6th-century Jvari monastery where a group of singers will perform for us a polyphonic chant supported by the wonderful acoustics of the church. Lunch in Mtskheta (included). In the afternoon walk to the magnificent 12th century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (UNESCO site) and to the 14th century Samtavro Convent. This is the biggest convent in Georgia, with 40 nuns, some of whom will be singing wonderful polyphonic chant at the Vespers service which lasts from 4-6 pm. You can attend as you wish. Walk to our hotel, where the driver will have already unloaded our suitcases from the bus. We will try to do check-in before this time or at this point if is not possible before. Free time after check-in. At 7:30 pm dinner from the rooftop terrace restaurant with wonderful views of the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral.
Day 4: Vardzia Resort Hotel, Vardzia Driving: 2+1, Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
7:00 am – Sitting, followed by breakfast (check out and load bus). Option to take part of the Sunday liturgy of the Georgian Orthodox tradition. At 9.00 am depart for Akhaltsikhe. Arrival at Akhaltsikhe Fortress where probably
Mr. Gurdjieff traveled through this area as a boy. Akhaltsikhe was on the major transit routes from Gyumri and Kars into the Russian Empirical territories to the north. After visit the museum we have lunch in the fortress restaurant In the afternoon depart for Vardzia (1 hour). Arrival and guided exploration of the Vardzia caves.
This cave city was founded by Queen Tamar in the 12th century on the site of a pre-existing cave monastery. The highlight is a rock-hewn church with original frescoes from the 13th century, together with spectacular views of the canyon walls with a blue river running through it. There is also a tunnel through the cliffs which is accessed from behind the church and once served as the primary escape route in times of attack. As an option, we can walk along well-marked paths with handrails. At the end of the visit, check into the hotel just across the river from the historic cave city. Hopefully, conditions permitting we may be able to spend a quiet time in one of the caves, probably, queen Tamar’s cave. Free time. 7:30 - Dinner at the hotel restaurant.
Day 5: Gyumri, Armenia, Villa Kars hotel. Driving: 2h and ½ +2, Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
6:30 am - Sitting. 7:30 am - Breakfast (check out and load bus) 8.30 am - Depart for the Georgian-Armenian border. Leave Georgian transportation and board Armenian transportation after the border crossing. Arrival in Gyumri (Alexandropol) hopefully around 12.30 pm and check in Villa Kars. Lunch is in a delicious traditional Armenian fish restaurant.
Rest. In the afternoon, at 3.00 pm, presentation "Gurdjieff’s Armenian Identity", given by Avetik Melik-Sargsyan, a local historian, who has spent the last twenty-five years focusing on Mr. Gurdjieff’s life. In the end Avetik will guide us to visit Mr.Gurdjieff’s father’s grave, Ashok Adash, in the old cemetery and the house where Mr. Gurdjieff used to live. Free time. Private dinner in a special location in Gyumri, walking distance from the hotel.
Day 6: around 1-hour driving, Breakfast, and Dinner
Sitting followed by breakfast. Meeting at 9.30 a.m. We will continue with Avetik our visits to Jajur Village, spending quiet time in an old Sanctuary that holds the miraculous tomb of a local saint (mentioned in Meetings with Remarkable Men). We continue our visit to Marmashen Church, a historical monument from the 10th century where we will learn about Christian symbology. Marmashen Church was near the river Arpa Chai, which Mr. Gurdjieff mentions in “Meetings with Remarkable Men” - Early one morning in Alexandropol, I was on my way, as usual, to the river Arpa Chai to bathe. (chapter V "Mr. X or Captain Pogossian"). After the visit to Marmashen Church back to Gyumri for a lunch (not included). In the afternoon, visit Mr. Gurdjieff’s cousin’s museum. Sergey Merkurov, who became one of the most important monumental sculptors of URSS. Free time. In the evening private dinner set up in the old library possibly followed by a special private concert in Villa Kars only for us performed by several musicians playing traditional instruments at the time of Mr.Gurdjieff.
Day 7: Gyumri - Sanahin – Haghpat Monastery - Tufenkian Avan Dzoraget Hotel, about 2
hours and a half driving, Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
7.30 am Sitting followed by breakfast. Drive to the Lori region to visit the monastery complex of Sanahin (where Gurdjieff studied). Possible sitting there. Free time. Lunch in Haghpat Village included.
We continue our driving to Haghpat Monastery a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This stunning example of traditional Armenian architecture was erected between the 10th and 13th centuries. Standing on a hillside, Haghpat overlooks the Debed River Canyon. The monastery’s location was chosen to protect the peace and seclusion of the monks. Free time for further meditation/prayer or hike. At the end around 4.30 pm transfer to Tufenkian Avan Dzoraget hotel (1h), a beautiful quiet place surrounded by nature. Dinner around 7.30 pm and overnight here.
Day 8: Yerevan, Tufenkian Hotel, about 2 hours driving, Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
7.30 am Sitting followed by breakfast. Departure to Ria Taza, the Yezid village, around 9.00 a.m (1 h driving). Private meeting with a local Yezid community to learn more about their traditions and beliefs. The sharing will be guided by Mrs. Ahmed and a translator.Lunch outside in a special location surrounded by a beautiful landscapes . In the end, we drive to Yerevan to visit Father Komitas museum (14.30 pm). Transfer to our hotel and check-in followed by free time. Option to visit the famous local market Vernissage on your own, close to our hotel. Later afternoon, possible meeting with the local Work group. Private dinner together.Overnight in Yerevan.
Day 9: Khor Virap – Etchmiadzin –Yerevan, Breakfast, and Dinner.
Early wake-up call and departure at 6.30 a.m. to the Khor-Virap Monastery (“deep pit”).Herewith the support of local connections we have reserved a quiet time and space dedicated only to our group. The monastery will open earlier for us only. Khor-Virap is the most important monastery in Armenia. According to the legend St. Gregory the Illuminator, the patron saint of Armenia, was kept in the basement here for 13 years for the dissemination of Christianity until Tsar Tradt decided to adopt Christianity. The monastery’s location allows you to enjoy the best views of Mount Ararat. Khor Virap is one of the most revered shrines for Armenian pilgrims and an important center of Christianity. Time for a food break and continue to the Holy See of Armenia, Etchmiadzin. Visit Etchmiadzin Cathedral only in external due to a restoration work in progress.
This church is the residence of the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Catholicos of all Armenians. We will also visit St. Hripsime Church and the remains of Zvartnots Cathedral. Meeting with one the most famous theologians of Armenia who studied Mr. Gurdjieff. Private meeting with him.
Return to Yerevan for free time and lunch on your own. After some rest, we meet at 3.45 pm in the hall of our hotel for a guided visit to the history museum. Free time until dinner, around 7.30 pm in a private room in a special restaurant of Yerevan. Overnight in Yerevan.
Day 10: Garni – Geghard, Yerevan, Breakfast, Lunch and Gala Dinner
Depart Yerevan at 9.00 a.m. to Garni, a major village in Armenia, famous for its fortress. The fortress is the only sacred pagan place from the 1st century that survived the introduction of Christianity in the 4th century. Nearby is possible to admire an interesting natural phenomenon called the symphony of stones. Time for a hike followed by the visit of the temple. After lunch on your own, around 14.00, we continue our driving (30 min) to Geghard monastery. Arrival and guided visit followed by a music program: special singers will share with us chants and prayers in an amazing acoustic created inside this chapel of the church. Departure around 15.30 to Yerevan and free time. At .6.30 pm way to the very famous Armenia carpet Megerian Factory for Gala Dinner in a private room.
At our arrival presentation about the carpet manufacture. Back to the hotel around 9 pm.
Day 11: Yerevan-Home
For many of us, there will be a very early departure to the airport, probably around midnight. The schedule of the pickup will be available before departure.