Armenia; I don’t know where to begin.
Should I start with the genocide, the people, the culture, their grief, their struggle, their generosity, or the food? There’s so much to cover about Armenia and I was there for only 3 days!
The experience I had in Armenia is one of the closest to my heart.
Armenia is a former Soviet Union country who got their independence in 1991. Even then, Armenia is still struggling to date yet they are persistent and courageous to stand as an independent country.
If you drive around the beautiful fields, you will find random Lada’s parked in the middle of the field only to find that people actually live in it! They may not have a lot but they are rich. What more could you ask than living in a rent free place in the middle of a vast fields of wild flowers and surrounded by lush green hills.
Armenia is probably one of the few countries where it is not invaded or abused by tourism. Yes, there are many tourist spots, the medieval monasteries, the genocide museum, the famous trekking sites, yet they maintain standard pricing and they humbly welcome tourists rather than try to gain every penny out of them. This is one of the main reasons why I fell in love with Armenia. The people are sincere.
Here are some things you could do in Armenia.
1. Lake Sevan
Lake Sevan is located about an hour drive from Yerevan. It costs only 2USD with a mashrutsky and a taxi to get to this humongous lake that comprises one sixth of Armenia.
I would recommend renting a car and have a drive around the huge lake as you can see different sceneries from one side to another.
You will encounter random picture perfect Ladas parked around the lake, a group of campers, fishermen and of course the great flora and fauna.
Many people camp and fish around the lake. The lake is home to rainbow trout.
I caught couple of eagles around the lake. Here I caught one of them on the act! I bet it had a good meal for lunch 😛
There is a gorgeous Monastry on the hill by Lake Sevan; hence the name Sevanavank. Walk up to the top of the hill and enjoy a 360 view of the lake! 😀
Noratus is a medieval cemetery with a field of crosses. You can easily spot the modern ones to the medieval ones. The intricate carvings with many different symbols on each cross on a field of grass is simply beautiful.
This monastery is very different to the others I have seen in Armenia, it’s a ruin, small, yet, it’s a masterpiece.
Every place in Armenia comes with a great view! Even if you are not into monasteries and ruins, check out the scenery!
5. Lucy Hotel
Lucy hotel is known for its grilled fish and on top of that, you could go and catch your own fish for lunch.
The drive towards Noravank itself was fascinating. After being used to the lavish green hills and wildflowers; I saw a different side of Armenia. Instead of green, it was red, and instead of plants, there were red sandstones.
7. Republic Square
Don’t miss out the republic square and dancing fountain. I honestly enjoyed this one a lot more than the one in Dubai.
Perhaps because it is not as crazy packed as Dubai and they play local music! 😀
8. Khor Virap
KHOR VIRAP MUST BE ON THE TOP OF YOUR LIST! The day started all gloomy and then it started to rain for a while. The drive to Khor Virap from Yerevan is about 40km. So as time passes, the sun started to shine through bit by bit.
Then as you get closer to Khor Virap, you will notice HUGE VINEYARD with lots of berry trees around it!
Even a gloomy day won’t ruin my day when I started to pick on the sweetest and biggest berry I have ever tasted!
Check out the vineyard view just above Khor Virap! Believe me, it’s a lot wider than what my camera lense could capture!
So the journey to Khor Virap was a lot of fun. As I approach Khor Virap, the sky cleared up and mount Ararat was finally visible! Perfect timing!
Khor Virap holds a very important part of Armenian christianity. This is where Gregory; the Christian preacher was imprisoned. He converted Armenia from paganism to Christianity.
The only thing that broke my heart was that there were so many locals selling wish doves by the entrance door and they treat them in such inhumane way. They were placed in rice sacs and tossed around 🙁
Please please please do not support such thing!
9. Khor Virap Cafe
After enjoying my time in Khor Virap, I wanted to have some breakfast at the first food stall I see.
And there it was, a huge cafe; Khor Virap Cafe. It looked brand new and I thought of giving it a try and I am SO GLAD I did!
This gorgeous young lady spoke English well which was something very rare in Armenia. It’s always a pleasant surprise to find anyone who speaks even basic English.
As I got there, they were baking fresh ponchik which is a mouthwatering pastry filled with homemade custard that melts in your mouth! IT’S A MUST TRY! And get it freshly baked while it’s still nice and warm!
A sweet treat wasn’t going to fill up, so I ordered a bastrami sandwich and asked the lady to put whatever she thinks is good! My oh my, I am drooling as I type. First of all, their bastrami is DELICIOUS! I have never tried such amazing bastrami, and she filled it in with fresh and crunchy vegetables between a crusty yet soft bread. The portion was HUGE! It lasted for breakfast and lunch 😀
They also served complimentary apricots which tastes just like marmalade!
Make sure to visit Khor Virap Cafe after Khor Virap and thank me later! 😀
10. Areni Winery
Armenia is one of the oldest wine producing region in the world. It’s very common to find street stalls with glass bottles of homemade wine ready for sale.
Areni village in particular is famous for its wine production since thousands of years ago.
Pop in for some wine tasting!
I stumbled on this town to get away from the foggy roads around Tatev. It felt very Armenian with the old stone houses and roses by the door. I would definitely recommend a stroll around Goris if time allows.
15. Harsnadzor Eco Lodge
If you plan on going to Wings of Tatem; the longest reversible tramway, spend a night in this Eco Lodge! Harsnadzor Eco Lodge is located only 5 minutes away from Wings of Tatev.
It is located by the edge of the mountain so you get a great view!
A beautiful full rainbow view after a foggy day 😀
The breakfast was spectacular! Simple, fresh and delicious!
16. Tatev Monastery
Since the clouds didn’t clear up, I didn’t get on the Wings of Tatev. It would’ve been a waste of money cause I won’t be able to see anything.
Instead, I visited the sites the next morning. Isn’t the location and structure simply perfect?
There was a mass when I visited the monastery.
The lady’s operatic voice gave me chills and goosebumps.
Everyone has to wear a headscarf when entering an Armenian monastery. Everyone greets each other with a hug and a kiss on both cheeks.
It was very moving to observe the mass ritual.
17. Genocide Museum
This is of course a must visit! I learnt so much about the genocide from the museum. It’s heartbreaking but we need learn the truth about the horrific genocide.
18. Vernissage Market
In this market, you will find everything! From vintage rugs to random pieces of cutleries that were found in abandoned villages.
Talk to the sellers! It’s always interesting to find out their origin and how they ended up selling in the market.
19. Soviet Union Train
It was time to say goodbye to Armenia, and I ended it in the best possible way. A ride to Georgia via Soviet Union Train. 😀
The ride was extremely comfortable and comes with an amazing view. Unfortunately, it was so comfortable that I slept throughout the journey and got to see the view only on the first few minutes of the ride 😛
There you go! 3 days in Armenia yet the memories will linger for a lifetime 🙂
I hope this post inspired you to visit Armenia and don’t forget to share and inspire others! 😀