The food, the friendly locals, the rugged countryside, the semi-difficult but rewarding travel – its one of those places that you can really get alot out of for a little, just because its off the beaten track.
I traveled down from Georgia, stopping at some of the major sights along the way, and as great as the country is, its hard not to get a case of monastery fatigue – there are just so many.
Each amazing in its own way, and I’m sure there’s people out there that will definitely love them, but my mind drifts off as their details are relayed to me..
Arriving into Yerevan though is legit, alas I don’t have any photos here to do it justice, but in complete contrast to Tbilisi, its a bustling little cosmopolitan city, where you can grab a decent espresso just as easily as a local Khorovats.
The passion I lack for churches, is compensated by the passion I have for markets, and Yerevan’s main market hall was no different.
Soviet concrete at its finest, the market hall is epic, and just being inside felt like you should almost be paying with rationed coupons again.
Fruit and vegetables so fresh you could still see the dirt on them from the garden, and buckets of perfect strawberries lined up in abundance next to buckets of pickled cucumbers.
I hit the jackpot though when I worked out which spice they were serving on every cafe table across the city. something that I took joy in sprinkling over my Lahmahjoon everyday.
I stocked-up, albeit semi-worried that customs would shaft me when I got back to Australia, but I breezed through without a sniffer dog in sight.
Besides the confines of my air-conditioned local coffee house, my second favorite place in Yerevan was easily the Matenadaran, or colloquially known as, the book museum.
As an avid bookbinder, the Matenadaran has some of the worlds most exquisite and unique examples of Armenian Bookbinding, from the headbands to the illuminated manuscripts, these are seriously amazing.
I wont get all book-tech, but it was just awesome.
Riding the metro was another hidden gem, with only 4 soviet metro underground systems in the world (Moscow, St Petersburg, Kiev & Tbilisi), Yerevan is the little cousin with half a system. (And I’m proud to have ridden them all!)
A commonly known fact in Armenia, at the time the of assessment for the Yerevan metro to then Soviet Russia, a milestone of 1 million residence within Yerevan was required.
Persuaded and coerced by one means or another.. Residents from all over the Armenian country side were rounded-up, and piled into the city for the count, and Yerevan was given the tick of approval.
Alas, the soviet-empire collapsed before the glorious Metro was finished, and what was completed is just a taste of how beautiful the whole thing could have been.
Heading East after Yerevan, I made my way to the hillside town of Goris.
Goris is the type of town you don’t find an ATM machine too easily, and Mum is just as likely to buy your Birthday present and Salami for lunch at the same little general store.
But it did have some pretty epic views, and was also home to..
The Worlds Longest Cable Car!
That’s right, way out in the middle of no-where, close to not alot, Armenia decided to build the worlds longest cable car.
5.7km’s long, the ride spans a huge gorge (and it is spectacular), takes around 15min and will set you back a couple of dollars.
On the way back you can search for the highly rumored waterhole between Goris and Tatev.
A word of caution though, it is as dangerous as you’ve heard about and not for the fainthearted.
Between falling down the rock-face and being swept away in the rapid flowing currents, if you do make it there and back in one piece you’ll feel pretty Bear Grylls.
Back in Yerevan my adopted friends took me out for a local lunch with family friends, and to every Armenians favorite weekend destination..
Lake Sevan –
I spent most of my life growing up next to the ocean, a lake to me is small with dirty brown water and I’d not something I’d ever want to swim in.
It definitely doesn’t span as far as the eye can see, and look like it was filled from a giant bottle of Evian.
My European and Muscovite friends always complain that all the gypsies (and trouble) come from Armenia, and I really had no idea what to expect before I arrived.
But like most peoples impression of a destination without ever visiting it, the actual turns out to be totally different from what you hear.
You might struggle to get a direct flight from your local capital into Yerevan, but if you do get the chance, Armenia is definitely worth a visit.
And, if you find yourself with no idea where to stay, chech out Envoy Hostel, because it is easily one of the best, cleanest, most organized and friendly hostels I have ever stayed at anywhere in the world.