Armenia: what to see and to experience?
Armenia: what to see and to experience?
If you are reading this you are probably considering visiting Armenia. Of course, I can tell you the usual stuff that we have many churches, tasty food, nice people, mountains, 4 neighbors, the 2 of which we love and not so much the other 2.
I can tell you that we have the mountain Ararat which is now located in the territory of Turkey but that we still call it our mountain. These are the things that are part of every tourist guide you’ll get.
That sounds great. But let’s make a deal. I’ll tell you about the real Armenia, what to do when to visit our country and how to enjoy your time here; in return, you will have fun in Armenia and if you like it you can share your thoughts about our country with us.
Now, I would like to ease your job and save you from hours of research and tell you about the real Armenia, this information you won't find anywhere else
I am someone who loves walking, enjoys the company of mother nature and interesting people. So forgive me if I focus mostly on that in this post.
1. The best time to visit Armenia
First of all, if you are still thinking of when to plan your trip to Armenia, you should know that the second half of September is the best time to visit. That’s when the days are sunny but not so hot and you can spend your whole day outside without worrying about getting too much sun.
2. Meet people? Ask for help!
Thanks to 'simple.view.to.the.earth'
A friend of mine from London came to visit me in Yerevan. One day during his stay he said, “Something odd happened to me today”. When I asked what happened, he told me that he tried to get to know people on the street, say hi and maybe even make friends. At least that was his intention, but no one really paid attention.
If you decide to get to know people on the street like my friend did, then don’t just pick a random topic and start talking. What works best is asking for help.
The first thing you should know about Armenians is that we love to help. Ask them about finding a certain location in the city or anything that will make them think they are helping you. If you are asking about a certain location you might even end up walking there with someone and there you have it, you can use that time to talk and who knows maybe even end up exchanging numbers and making plans to meet up again.
If you are not in Yerevan but in some other small city or village, try to stay with a family for the night, or however many nights you will be staying. They will probably take car of BNB will most your lunch+ dinner + snacks as well! Of course, this depends on the family you are staying with but all of them will be very welcoming and will try to talk to you even if they know very little English. I can assure you, they will be excited to meet you.
3. Holidays and events
The most important holiday of the year in Armenia is the New Year. If you are interested in spending your holiday season here, you should definitely stay with an Armenian family where they live with grandparents. Here is where all the traditions of the New Year celebrations will be present.
You should know that the holiday season starts on 25th or 26th December. But this is not because we celebrate Christmas. Armenians celebrate Christmas on 5-6 January. We use the last 4-5 days of every year preparing food and getting ready for the first 8 days of the next year. Why 8 days? Because after that the holiday season ends and everyone goes to work.
During those 8 days, all we do is to go from home to home and congratulate each other. We eat, talk and have coffee at every house. Some of us even visit 4-5 homes a day and repeat the cycle of eating talking and having coffee each time.
Vardavar: water festival
Another great holiday we all love is Vardavar. I’m sure you will love it too. The date changes every year, but it is almost always in July. On that day you will see everyone watering each other on the streets with buckets. Some people don’t like the feeling of being drenched with water and they hide in their homes. But it doesn’t really matter. For all I know that’s one of the best days of the year and almost 95% of the country has fun on that day.
4. Places you MUST visit
As I’ve already told you, I love walking. So let’s get to discussing the best places you should visit in Armenia.
- Lake Sevan
What you will find in tourist guide books is Lake Sevan. We don’t have access to any sea in Armenia, but we have a big lake named Sevan which we like to refer to as our sea. But the Guide won’t tell you that if you are visiting Sevan and you like fish you should definitely check Semo’s place near the lake. Just tell the driver to take you to “Semoi mot” and they will get you there.
When you are here, the first places people will want to take you are Garni temple, Geghard and Tatev monasteries. But if you are going to Tatev you shouldn't miss Satan’s bridge near it. You will not only find a river there and a natural spring water pool, but also rocks that you won’t be able to stop staring at.
If you want more information about Tatev and the Satan's bridge, check this video:
- Ghazanchecoc cathedral and the hidden room under the altar
Among other places, you should never leave Amenia without visiting Artsakh. In the city of Shushi there is Ghazanchecoc cathedral that has a hidden room under the altar. All you need to do is to find the priest of the church and ask him to show you the room. The walls of this room are abnormally thick because of all the gigantic empty jugs they’ve put inside. The interesting thing about this room is that when you stand in the very center of this room and start talking, you will hear yourself so much louder than usual, and others almost won’t hear anything. Another interesting thing is that if you stand there at the wall and whisper to it the person on the other end of the room in a diagonal will hear you clearly. If you decide to go there ask the priest or someone else from the church to show you how exactly the room works.
5. The bread
At last, when you visit Armenia don’t forget to try Lavash. It is a type of bread we make, which looks like a giant loaf. The real way to make it is in a big hole in the ground which is called Tonir. If you can find a place where they make Lavash in a Tonir, try that one, because that will be the tastiest.
6. Final thoughts
If you are going to Armenia for the first time, you will find a lot to do and a lot more to see. I hope in the end you will want to come back again, or who knows, maybe you don’t want to leave....
Written by Lily from Armenia