Amazing Armenia – It’s Beautiful!!!

Shavi Katyayan
Monday, December 31, 2018

Eid Holidays in Kuwait are one of the best times for a short leisure trip. It all started in April-May, when our friend and we decided to travel to “highly appreciated & unexplored” Armenia. It was time to update our travel dairy. We started exploring the web trying to find the best way to travel, places of interest, culture, food, economy, political history and what not. We read reviews on Trip advisor & various websites. Finally, we penned down at Capital City Yerevan for 3 Nights and Mountainous Dilijan for 2 nights. We booked self-catering 2-bedroom hotel apartment at Yerevan and 2-bedroom Villa at Dilijan via booking.com that helped us relax with extra freedom, as both families were traveling with their infant daughter. Being vegetarian, we made sure to purchase foodstuffs at supermarkets to avoid unnecessary trouble. Yerevan city is more of a walking tour & that’s the best way to explore any place, its culture and tradition. Money exchanges are available in every look & corner that exchanges US Dollar, Euro & UAE Dirham at international rate with very less commission. Since we love leisure travel, our tour was not hectic and was planned in such a way that we get sufficient time to enjoy & relax.

Armenia, a land of beautiful scenery is landlocked nation bordering Iran, Azerbaijan & Georgia. It was the very first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion in 301 A.D. Many of the country’s monasteries are situated amidst most picturesque locations. Stunning architecture, coupled with fabulous surroundings, makes Armenia popular choice for tourists who like to stray off the beaten track.

We started our journey from Kuwait International Airport on 20th August 2018 morning by Air Arabia to Yerevan Airport via Sharjah. The journey was rather routine & nothing much to write about. We reached Yerevan in the afternoon. On arrival, we were greeted warmly at passport control and the entries were stamped within a minute in our passport as we had taken tourist visa for KD 2.5 at Armenian Embassy at Kuwait. Tourist Visa is a 3 days process that requires just the passport along with your photograph and basic application form. It’s also visa on arrival country or e-visa for Indian Passport holders.

20th August 2018 (Yerevan Walking Tour):

Upon collecting our baggage, we were welcomed by our tour guide “Aram” at the arrival. On our way, Aram gave us many interesting facts about the country, its culture, best places & time to visit, etc. The apartment was located at one of the most prominent location and at walking distance to most of the tourist attractions. We checked-in and were more than satisfied with the cleanliness and amenities.

After relaxing for a while, we had a quick snack and thought to walk around in the nearby area. We were advised by one of the locals to visit the Freedom Square that was just at 5 mins walking distance. Yerevan has an amazing nightlife with friendly people all around. Upon reaching the square, we got energized riding rental bicycles, cool breeze, dance and music, and what not. Babies got engaged riding battery-operated cars. After spending good 2 hours we headed to Indian restaurant “Karma” for light dinner and took cab back to our apartment to retire for the night.

21st August 2018 (Drive to Khor Virap Monastery – Areni Winery – Jermuk City):



After breakfast, we started for a drive to Khor Virap Monastery located in the Ararat plain, which was the residence of Armenian Catholics. It has an amazing view of Ararat Mountains in the backdrop that gave us opportunity for some clicks. We were more than surprised to learn the history of this most visited pilgrimage site in Armenia. After offering our prayers we returned back to the jeep to head to Areni Winery. The winery, located 120 kms from Yerevan has a private factory, which we can visit to get acquainted with the production process and taste the local wines. We did opt for the educational tour, and later taste the Red, White & Rosemary wines. Most of the produce is exported to Russia. Further, we drove to Jermuk, which is a mountain spa town, was considered as a popular medical tourist hub in the Soviet Union. It’s famous for its hot springs, fresh air, waterfalls, walking trails and mineral water pools. We felt a drastic change in temperature and spend sometime admiring the beauty of the nature sitting a local coffee shop. We tried local cheese sandwiches “Acharuli” along with local veggie stuff’s.



Later we returned back to our apartment and after a quick power nap, we went to most happening tourist and local attraction “Republic Square” that was again at a 5 minutes walk through high end street “Northern Avenue”. We spend the most memorable moment of our trip while enjoying the musical concert, fountain and a never-ending funfair. Various Government buildings and High-end Hotels surround the square. Sad but true, we had to return back to the apartment to crash to the bed.
22nd August 2018 (Drive to Zvartnots & Etchmiadzin Cathedral, Amberd Fortress & Aragat Mountains):


After homemade breakfast, we headed for long day trip that started visits to Zvartnots & Etchmiadzin Cathedral. Zvartnots (Celestial Angels) Cathedral that was built in 7th century AD is now in ruins, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was quite warm that day and to walk in ruins was a tough but satisfying experience. It also houses a museum inside that gives all information about it. We also had great time inside museum with surprise carol singing by talented artists. We then headed to Etchmiadzin Cathedral that is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and is the mother church of Armenian Apostolic Church. It is considered to the oldest Cathedral of ancient Armenia and our guide provided all facts about the Church. The main building of the complex is mostly under repair and renovation; hence we did not spend much time inside. After quick prayer, we started our journey towards Aragats Mountain, which was roughly 2 hours drive. On the way, we stopped a local roadside fruit vendor to buy fresh farm fruits. We did relish those as the fruits did satisfy our taste buds big time. We had a small detour to visit the Alley of Armenian Alphabet that has big-cemented alphabet structures developed in 405 AD. Armenian is written left to right and has 38 alphabets as informed to us by Aram. While on our way, we visited the 7th Century Amberd Fortress located 7500 ft. above sea level on the slope of Mount Aragats. The castle also houses a church that is basically abandoned and is only a sightseeing monument. It was getting dark & started raining when we were approaching the peak of Mount Aragats. Upon reaching the highest level, we decided to sip a coffee and relax to cherish the scenic nature. It was getting cooler and with babies alongside, we decided to head back to apartment after a while.



After resting for a while, we started our nightlife walk to much appreciated Cascade Complex. It’s a structure with huge steps from top of which one can view the panoramic view of the city. It was quite a happening place; with people of all ages dancing to tunes of drums and guitar being performed live by locals. We returned back to our apartment, after dinner at yet another Indian restaurant “India Palace”.

23rd August 2018 (Drive to Garni Temple, Tsaghkadzor Cable Car & Sevan Lake):



After our last breakfast at Yerevan, we started our day by visiting Garni Temple that the only standing Greco-Roman building in the country. It is believed that the structure was built in 1st Century AD, as a temple to Sun God, but few archeologists believe it to be a tomb. It was collapsed by earthquake and later excavated in 19th Century AD for tourism. We then started our journey towards Tsaghkadzor where the beauty of nature is displayed in all its glory. We were just waiting for our trip to Tsaghkadzor Cable Car that is open chair cable car lifting about 800 meters and take around 20 mins to cover the distance of 6000 meters. The cloudy weather was just icing on our journey. We cherished quick bite at the sky café on the top, before returning back. We then started our journey towards largest water body of Caucasus region - Lake Sevan, which is located at an altitude of 2000 meters above sea level. Various water sports were available but keeping kids safety in our mind, we opted out from exploring those options. We did shop for some souvenirs at local street shops before heading for our destination Dilijan.



24th August 2018 (Dilijan Tour – Harghartsin Monastery & Parz Lake):

The view from balcony of the villa was something that cannot be expressed by words & we would never forget. We felt the beauty of mountains & green pines with our heart listening to the river with serene pure air. Nothing can be better than to get disconnected from the world and get lost in the nature.



After breakfast, we went to explore the forested spa town “Dilijan” also termed as Armenian Switzerland. We headed to Parz Lake where we spent most of our day admiring the nature. The babies enjoyed to the fullest as they got engaged feeding the ducks and fishes. We hired paddleboat for canoeing and it was a serious challenge to move the boat in right direction. Eventually, it was time up by the time I could actually understand the art to paddle it. In the evening, we visited the 13th century Harghartsin Monastery that was built under the patronage of Bagratuni Dynasty. We were lucky enough to witness a royal wedding ceremony. Later we returned back to our Villa and helped the ladies cook to enjoy our candle light dinner in the pitch-dark balcony.



25th August 2018 (Fly back):

After a lazy morning breakfast, we had to do the toughest thing on a trip - Pack bags to leave for Airport. The warmth of citizens of Armenia, the nature, the love & care for tourists, ever-ready attitude to help has raised the respect and their standard in my heart for every Armenian. Hats off to the countrymen for giving us immense pleasure that would always be with us in our memories.



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