I totally love Yerevan! In this funny, unexpected way. I haven’t spoken to many people @ all, but the younger generation learns Russian & English in school, so everyone speaks English w/a Russian accent, which is funny to me. (and the tv channels are so internationally mixed- there’s Armenian channels, of course, & Russian, & also BBC News, CNN, a French channel, a Saudi channel (the one I was watching in Beirut that’s all American movies), & we’ve seen English movies dubbed in Russian, a movie in Spanish dubbed in Armenian, & a Hindi movie dubbed in Russian!)
Saturday night (10.jun), I dragged my parents to Republic Square (one of the main squares in the city- right near our hotel) where there was a HUGE thing going on- it was the end of the school year.
There was a big stage & singers & a big video screen. And right as we were about to leave, there were fireworks! Cool.
Sunday (11.jun) we went around the corner to the Vernissage (flea market) that’s well-known & I think happens every weekend. (I got a little Armenian flag- kinda cheesy, but I like it.) And then we went to the Genocide Memorial Museum (Dsidsernakaberd)- it was intense, and there were some gruesome photos. And a series of paintings which I really liked. (you can’t take any photos inside, so here’s the outside:)
Oh, we also had a 20-minute family crisis @ lunch: we had the folks @ the musem call us a taxi, & we went to the “Armenia Hotel” (the big Mariott in Rep. Sq.) for lunch. After we finished eating, I realized to my horror that I’d left my precious, precious camera (aka my best friend) in the taxi! I almost cried, & my dad almost cried- I think he felt sicker than I did. (my folks are counting on me for photos.) But my dad sprang into action- he went to the front desk (we were luck we were somewhere they spoke english) & asked the woman there to call the Genocide Museum- I thought they’d closed already, but I still held on hope. . . I knew my Armenian People wouldn’t let me down! She called the Museum, they called the cab company. . . and the same cab driver came back & handed me my camera! It was a miracle, & I almost hugged him & the woman @ the front desk. LUCKY, man. (my mom couldn’t stop talking about how amazed she was that I actually got my camera back.) Phew!
We also went into the National History Museum (in Rep. Sq), which I liked- my dad griped a lot about everything being only in Armenian (duh!), but I still really enjoyed it. (it’s a huge place- we only saw 2 floors.)
Random photo of our hotel:
Mt. Ararat from our hotel @ sunset:
And that night, from our window, more fireworks:
Yesterday (12.jun) we went to the church that we see from our window (Grigor Lusqvorich- named after Gregory the Illuminator, who converted the king in the 1st cen who made Armenia the 1st officially Christian nation. Lots of churches, naturally, are named after him.) for a bit:
Then we headed to the Pantheon, where some famous Armenians (William Saroyan & Gomidas are a few) are buried.
Example of the Russian cars I like so much:
We went to the Cascade, which has about 450 steps (and about 7 levels of escalators inside- we took those up!), & was built as a WWII memorial:
The project was started back in Soviet times, but not completed until recently, when a rich Armenian-American funded the completion. This “fat cat” statue was unveiled @ the opening:
View from the top (and yes, I took all 450 stairs down!):
My Armenian pop star alter ego:
Old Soviet truck:
We had dinner @ this place called “Our Village”- a midieval-style Armenian restaurant- complete w/costumes & live music! I liked it- my parents were disappointed w/their food- but when we got there the place was empty except for us, so we all felt bad for them & thought it was just a tourist place. But by the time we left the place was hopping w/Armenians & people speaking Russian & young American tourists, so I guess we were wrong!
Today (13.jun) we took another tour w/Sati Tours & had Argine as a guide again. We went to the Ararat province (marz) to Khorvirab, 2.5 km from the Turkish border to get as close as possible to Mt Ararat, which is also called the Masis, & the peak next to it to the left is called “Sis” (“Big Mountain” & “Little Mountain”, I think.)
There are a LOT of statues in Yerevan & Armenia. This one is facing west, to protect the country (I think it may be a soldier):
We went through the Gerama mountains, where there’s a lot of iron in the soil which turns it red:
We went to some old churches- this one’s Noravank:
(those steps lead to the church part, which is upstairs- and those are the stairs (no railing!) you take to get up there! They’re not very wide. . .)
Monks & royalty are often buried on the ground outside & inside the churches (apparently the monks wanted to still serve god & the people even after they were dead, so they act sort of like steps):
The outside of the church:
And now we’re sweaty & exhausted. One more full day here. . . sad. I already know I want to come back. (And Argine’s agreed to be my penpal- we want to exchange French lessons for Armenian lessons, but I’m not sure quite how that’s going to work over the internet.) [*side note- the person working here just turned on “In Da Club” by 50 Cent. Wha?!]
I really should articulate more what I like about it here, but maybe that’s for another day. . .
Posted from Spain:
posted Tuesday June 2006