We arrived, by train from Tbilisi, in Yerevan at about 6:30 AM and took a cab to our AirBnB. The primary reason I picked this particular AirBnB was the owner was willing to let us check in at 7 AM. The cab driver was unaware of the location and had to ask several times, even though we had the location mapped on our phones (not me, of course, since I left mine in Charlotte).
Our AirBnB was not particularly in a convenient location and the bathrooms left a lot to be desired, however, since we were only going to be in Yerevan for less than 20 hours, it would do. Our flight back to the U.S.A. would leave at 3 AM, the following morning!
We left the apartment to find breakfast, which turned out not to be an easy find from where we were staying.
We were back at the apartment in time for our tour guide to meet us for a 4-hour walking tour of the city. While waiting, we made reservation at Dolmama Restaurant (recommended by one of Jenny’s friend).
Our walking tour was arranged through Tours By Locals. Our guide was Vrezh N., who is also an independent guide, at Adventure Armenia. Vrezh will arrange tours throughout Armenia; I would probably contact him if we ever go back.
The first place we passed, since it was very close to our apartment, was the Yerevan Brandy Company, with its famous ArArAt sign at the top. Vrezh told us that when Russia was in control of the region, they decided that Georgia would specialize in wine production and Armenia in brandy. Armenia now would like to move into more wine production.Our next goal was Republic Square, the large square at the center of Yerevan.
Continuing toward the Yerevan outdoor market, Vernissage, we first visited a Khachkar, or Armenian cross-stone monument, open-air gallery. We learned that this style of carved crosses is specific to Armenian artwork. We also learned that Armenia was the first country to ever declare Catholicism as it’s official religion. Then on to Vernissage where we found a few souvenirs.
Then we walked to Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral. This is the largest cathedral in Armenia and was completed in 2001.
Next up, Freedom Square and Opera House. Under Soviet rule, no building in Yerevan could be taller than the equivalent building in Russia, therefore, the Opera House here is only 2 stories (although, it sure looks like 3).
Our next “treat” was a ride on the Soviet-era subway. We really shouldn’t have taken photos within the subway, according to our guide. There wasn’t much to photograph which is why the photos are so interesting.
We rode for a couple of stops, then walked to the Cafesjian Cascade Complex, and arts center, planned in the 20’s by the Soviet architect, Alexander Tamanyan in his plan make Yerevan a modern city. Construction was started in the 80’s, but stopped by an earthquake in 1988. The Armenian-American, Gerard Cafesjian, finally funded the completion and made it into a contemporary art center housing his vast collection of art. The inside has multiple levels, reached by escalators, with art displayed the entire way to the top. Was one of the most interesting escalator rides we’ve ever experienced.
Outside, below this building, is a very nice garden, filled with sculptures. One of my favorite artists has displays here, Fernando Botero. I have enjoyed his sculptures in Singapore, London and, now, Armenia.
At the end of this garden is a statue of Alexander Tamanyan, the architect of modern Yerevan.
Went back to the apartment to rest before dinner at Dolmama Restaurant.
Again, back to the apartment, where we tried to get some sleep, before we left for the airport at 12:30 AM. Our flight, on Qatar Airways, went through Doha, then on to Miami. The flight from Doha to Miami was 16.5 hours.
Our visit to Armenia was just enough to make us want to go back for more, especially the countryside.