Public transport in Yerevan is good and reliable. We notice this when we take the metro from the bus stop to our apartment. For 100 Dram (approx. 0,20€) we get a small red plastic chip, which we throw into the turnstile.
Mount Ararat — the mighty 5000 meters high mountain is the symbol of Armenia! Here from a platform in the capital Yerewan. But the paradox: Mount Ararat is not in Armenia, but in Turkey! Of course this was not always the case. An Armenian told us that in a conversation with a Turk he was made aware that the Armenians had no right to have Ararat as a symbol, because it did not belong to them. The Armenian replied that the Turks also had no right to use the moon and a star as a symbol. They do not belong to them either. Pretty quick-witted! Ararat is also the name of Armenia’s most famous cigarette brand.
Yerevan radiates a very special charm for us. From a city planning point of view, you can see that pedestrians are more important than for example in Tbilisi. While walking through the city, the few cars hardly bother us and one could take a nap in the shopping street. Also, you always know where you are and what time it is, as signs and clocks are at strategic locations. One of our highlights was the restaurant Little Cilicia with its wonderful ambience, the traditional Armenian food and the super friendly owner. We also recommend a visit to a traditional baker with his oven.
Yerevan’s cute children’s train station is unfortunately closed, but you can imagine the past beauty of this place. On the way back to the centre, we had to go through a rather long tunnel.
Through this great disappointment we want to enjoy some peace and nature. We were allowed to admire some natural remains in the Dilijan National Park. Here history mixes with nature. Many monasteries from the 12th and 13th century testify to former settlements. The national park administration is very well equipped: Bicycles, stylish hiking maps and nice staff. What more could you ask for? Various hiking routes were recommended to us, but the rain allowed us to only do one hike.
Armenia inspired us with its friendly drivers. We never had to wait long in the cold! And we had a good view most of the time.
Start-ups in Sevan National Park
In contrast to hitchhiking, couchsurfing in Armenia is really not easy. The only ones who have taken us in during our time are three lovely guys from Denmark, Norway and India.
Kesava (top left), Jeppe (bottom left) and Severin (right). They are all about 19 years old and have graduated from the elite highschool franchise UWC (in Armenia, Germany and India). Kesava taught me, by the way, how to solve color cubes. Learning from the best, because he holds two world records in solving the cubics! The three super smart boys have recently started living at Lake Sevan in the Sevan National Park.
Only a small part of the lake can be seen in the pictures — it is really immense! The guys from Cilicia.Living are currently building a huge coliving community here. They are looking for digital nomads who want to settle in this beautiful area and become part of a community. We are housed in energy self-sufficient eco-buildings. One evening the designers of these houses and the project leaders come and we have a sumptuous supper.
Oh, good, police!
Some things remained in our minds regarding Armenia. Positive was for example the police. They don’t carry any weapons. That makes us feel save a lot. In general, the crime rate here is not high — only the “normal” pickpockets. But we didn’t notice that either.
The job of many Armenians is probably taxi driver. At every corner they stand or drive.
Dear God, … . Amen.
By chance we get into a traditional custom and a dance performance called Trndes. 40 days after the birth of Christ, this time the 13th of February, people lit candles at an open fire. This is supposed to be a bonfire for the Lord’s representation. The Armenians seem even more religous to us than the Georgians (perhaps also because of their history). Churches and monasteries bear witness to their strict Armenian apostolic faith.
Are you playing with me?
Chess, backgammon and wrestling are very popular activities in Armenia.
Barbecue in Armenian
Chorovats means “grilled” and is part of the long grilling tradition of the Armenians. Wherever you look, there is always a chorovats or grill — even permanently installed on balconies of apartment buildings! Shashlik made of all animals and their parts is a popular barbecue meal — vegetables rather not. Once a year there is even a shashlik festival in the north of the country. We have seen the Chorovats in action at Lake Sevan — fresh fish was prepared there.
Gyumri — second largest city in Armenia
On our way back to Georgia we spend the night in Gyumri. Now we finally have time to explore the 150,000 inhabitant city. In the shopping street we find a super sweet artist café. The tea is exceptionally good and our “raw food chocolate ball” proves to be a sweet delicacy. Through the magic atmosphere, we totally forget where we are…
As we stroll on, we find a few more obscurities. Rusty tin roofs, a very old car and a closed amusement park. Art that writes life.
Armenia is no longer a blank page for us. We got to know many interesting people, could dive into the culture and experience the Armenien lifestyle. Since it was cold in Armenia, between 0 and 5 degrees, and we were already frozen through 2 months coldness (and it did not work with the Iran visa), we decided to go as fast as possible back to the warmer south of Turkey. A teleporter would have been really welcome at this point! With a crying eye we left Armenia behind because we couldn’t explore the south. Hopefully next time!