Saturday, March 12, 2011

To Yerevan and Back

A few days ago, I returned from a 5 day trip to Armenia with several other TLGers.  Taking advantage of 2 holidays and a weekend allowed us to explore the cosmopolitan city of Yerevan and several other surrounding areas.  Our time was filled with delicious food, good conversation, many (many) churches and great people.  
Group shot with our Marshutka driver

We decided to couchsurf again and experienced all the perils that come with this particular endeavor.  Our first couchsurfer was a bit over the top, but welcomed anyone and everyone into his home.  While this meant 3 days of sleeping on the floor using our coats and sweaters as pillows and blankets, it also meant meeting tons of new Peace Corp volunteers, travelers and Armenian University students.  After growing weary of little sleep, a few of us headed to a different couch surfer who gave us a much quieter atmosphere, beds and yummy tea and jam.  One of the reasons I love couch surfing is having the ability to find all the bars where the locals hang out.  Sumit took us to this bar called Calumet where everyone was sitting on the floor on bean bags, drinking the local brew and enjoying each other's company.  I'm not sure we would have found the bar otherwise... 

There were about 7 of us ready to explore outside Yerevan so renting a Marshutka seemed to be the most cost effective decision.  Our driver, Roman, was so wonderful.  He and Michelle totally hit it off (probably because they could actually communicate with each other and carry on a conversation), but they ended up planning our next three day trips.  Roman basically drove us all over Armenia.  We visited many churches, monasteries and even a lake.  Each famous for its own old (literally) reason.  
A beautiful church, that we actually didn't go inside... nor do I remember it's name.
But look how pretty??!! 

Geghard Monastery - A beautiful monastery nestled up in the rock hills
Etchmiadzin - the mother church of Armenia - essential to the history of Christianity 
Look how big Mt. Ararat is! 
While all the churches and monasteries we visited were equally beautiful, I found myself growing tired of going from one church to straight to another.  A few of us spent one day wandering through a couple museums.  We visited the Armenian Genocide Museum and the National Art Gallery.  This was just a heavy day as the genocide museum was just pretty gruesome and nauseating to see pictures of and read about.  Its setting was beautiful with a backdrop of Mt. Ararat (in Turkey) and being able to overlook the city of Yerevan from the top of the hill.  The art museum was nice, but I'm not sure I was able to fully appreciate it after the day we had had at the previous museum.  Luckily we finished the day off on a good night with a lovely iced coffee at a nearby cafe.  It's amazing what a little caffeine can do to brighten a depressing day. 

A few of us outside Novamonk Church - its setting was absolutely breathtaking
Group shot in front of the mountain! 
We really couldn't get enough of the mountain,
we had to sit down and ponder it for a while. 
We also ate lots of delicious and yummy food, ranging from Lebanese, Chinese, American (pizza hut - don't judge - it tasted SO amazing) and of course, Armenian.  After being away for 7 months now, being in a city where there are options and variety when it comes to food is something that I'm just not willing to NOT take advantage of! While I do love Georgian food, (blog post coming soon about that...) I miss eating food from other cultures.  This was one aspect that definitely made Yerevan much more of a cosmopolitan city.  Variety in food, great night life, department stores from all over the world, and a mix of people from different cultures and backgrounds made Yerevan a city where I thoroughly enjoyed my time.  We even managed to mix a little Karaoke in there! 

Ice cream cones for 100 Dram! YES! 
While I enjoyed the trip, I found myself anxious to go back to Georgia.  I was ready to be around familiarity again, where I could read the signs and communicate with the people.  Always a good sign! So here I am, happy to be back in Georgia, where the sun is starting to shine more and more each day, leaves are beginning to sprout and layers of clothing are slowly being shed.  Spring has sprung! 


  1. Em,
    Nice to hear about the trip and all of your site seeing. More pictures when you get a chance and stories about the bar surfing would also be fun to hear about. LYL Dad

  2. Hey Em, stayed in your room at your parents house a week ago. We have the same beach bag from Old Navy!!! Same color and everything! What are the odds?! (Alright, probably pretty good, Old Navy is all over the place).

    Good job on not spending your entire vacay looking for churches! : )


  3. Hello ,i am sorry to disturb but have to ask for a great favour .i am a student and now i am writing my thesis on topic native and non-naitve enlish speaker teachers .and if possible i would like to ask you osme quesitons aobut TLG program and send you a questionnaire .i would really appreciate it .
    best regards ,
    i am forward to heairng form you and get your help