Not too long ago, I returned from my trip around Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Each of these countries has it’s own story to tell, just if you give it a chance.
Armenia: Short recap
I didn’t quite know what to expect about Armenia to be fair. But as soon as we crossed the border between Georgia and Armenia, I was amazed. Amazed by it’s landscape and scenery. Such a windy roads, hills and yellow grass as far as your eye can reach. Soon we reached area around Dilijani, which was incredible. Lush green forests, stalls with cooked/grilled corn and remarkable views. Just amazing!
Next you know we passed Lake Sevan, where people sell sea buckthorn just on a side of the road. I never really heard about it before. Everyone says that fish from Lake Sevan is the best. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to try it, but I will return for sure!
An hour later we reached Yerevan suburbs. It was so busy it took us forever to get to our hotel. After such a tiring ride from Tbilisi to Yerevan we were dead tired. And then problems with hotel started. Stinky, badly maintained room, a nightmare! After complaining, they moved us to much nicer room. Thank you for that, but that’s how it should be in first place!
We situated ourselves in Yerevan and decided that taking day tours out of it would be the best and cheapest option for us! That also meant that some things we would have to leave for next time, since we had only few days in Armenia. Our list of places to see was way to long for our time there. So unfortunately we had to leave out tons of places.
In Yerevan we explored Cascades, Matenadaran and History Museum of Armenia, Genocide Museum, Vernissage Market and much more. I’m usually not a big fan of museums, but all three of them were just incredible. Each one of them in different way, but they are all a must if you visit Yerevan.
Cascades are great complex of fountains, stairs and art museum. From the top you have a beautiful view of Yerevan and Mt. Ararat in the back. Just to let you know, there are escalators inside so you don’t have to take stairs, if you are lazy or just can’t do it.
Do you like outdoor markets? Then you are in for a treat. Vernissage Market is on just for the weekend, so make sure you are in Yerevan then. Here you can get anything you want. From local crafts, to rugs, to wines, and other knick knacks. But I’m sure you will not leave the market empty handed.
Make sure you visit all three museums mentioned before. Matenadaran is Museum of Ancient Manuscripts, and it’s going to blow your mind. They really knew how to make an amazing manuscripts back in the days. Hundreds and thousands of years back.
Then there you have Museum of Armenian History. You should visit it to understand Armenian history a bit better.
And definitely don’t miss out Armenian Genocide Museum. It’s a pity that this happened, and hopefully something like that won’t happen again. No museum before made me as emotional as this one. It’s very well made and it explains the whole history behind it.
If you like Brandy, then you probably heard of Ararat Brandy. Reportedly it was Churchill’s favorite. You can go there for the tour and tasting, but make sure you reserve in front. We didn’t reserve so unfortunately we didn’t get chance to do the tour. There is another brandy/ vodka/ wine company in Yerevan. It’s called Yerevan Noy Wine brandy Vodka Factory. We went for a tour and tasting here. I would say it’s nice to do at least one of these two tours while you are in Yerevan.
Make sure to spend one evening watching Dancing Fountains on Republic Square. I’ve seen the ones in Dubai, which are definitely the most incredible, but these ones are pretty close. It’s nice to see all the locals and tourists enjoying it!
Make sure you go for some food to Mer Gyugh / Our Village Restaurant in Yerevan. They have great food, servers are nice and thy have live music. Also here you can get some real traditional village food, that I haven’t seen at other places. Make sure you try Vana Khash, and ask waiter to show you the preparation process. Also dolmas, pilaf and compote should be on your food list!
So for day trips from Yerevan we chose One Way Travel Agency. Their prices are very affordable and I can definitely recommend them. First we decided for three day trips, but later only did two. That was because of shortage of time. So we ended up doing trip to Geghard Monastery, Garni Temple and Symphony of Stones and trip to Khor Virap and Echmiadzin, where we visited 3 different churches. Unfortunately we did Echmiadzin on Sunday, when museums were closed and we couldn’t visit Zvartnots archeological site.
Trip that we didn’t do was, trip to Tatev Monastery and Noravank. It would take us around 14-15hrs and then next day we had 8hrs ride back to Georgia, so we decided to leave it for next time. There is still so much I want to see in Armenia.
So here is a short recap of what I did in Armenia, but there is still much more to see and do!
Time for some tips/facts!
- English won’t get you far, it’s best if you speak some Russian!
- Taxi in Yerevan “centre” is always 600dram! Don’t pay more!
- If on tight budget use marshrutkas to get everywhere. But if you have more money to spend go on day tours or hire private driver!
- To get from Tbilisi to Yerevan or vice versa, try to get shared car or marshrutka! Spirit of Georgia agency in Tbilisi arranged shared car for us!
- You can’t get from Armenia to Azerbaijan and vice versa! Don’t even try!
- Don’t try to outdrink people from Caucasus!
- Take time to explore Armenian countryside and monasteries!
- 95% of Armenians are Christian!
- First church in the World was built in Armenia – Holy Etchimiadzin!
- Try as much traditional food as you can! It’s delicious!
- Don’t forget to drink some Ararat Brandy!
- Also try sea buckthorn tea! I loved it!
- Buy all your souvenirs from Vernissage Market on the weekend!
- Armenia is country of Chess! It’s actually considered as national sport and it’s compulsory subject in school!
- Most famous Armenians are Kardashian sisters and Cher!
- Armenia is one of the oldest wine producing countries!
- Mount Ararat is Armenian national symbol! Even tho that nowadays it’s situated in Turkey!
- Other name for Yerevan is “Pink City”
- Armenia lost around 1,5 million people in the Genocide.
- More Armenians live abroad that in Armenia itself.
- It also has the longest non-stop double track cable car, which gets you to the Tatev Monastery!
- Lavash, traditional bread of Armenia made it on Unesco’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2014
- There is even an Armenian Alphabet Monument in the town of Aparan
- Most famous instruments are duduk and oud! You can hear some people play it on streets!
Okey that should be enough for now!