Friday, April 30, 2010

Yerevan to Dilijan


Took my own advice today. Dan and I took a mini-bus to Sevan, a city near one of the largest alpine lakes in the world. Get out your atlas and see it. It is surrounded by mountains still covered with snow. My geology is not as good as it should be but I think it might be the remnants of a BIG caldera lake.

Any way, we started walking from the bus stop in the city toward the lake – a couple of Kilometers. An old guy named Vanya, in an old beat up taxi, stopped by us as we walked – we were in the middle of nothing – and offered to take us to a monastery on the lake. Before it was over we hired Vanya to take us to see it and then over the pass to Dilijan and area known as Armenia’s Switzerland. (For the day we paid Vanya 9,000 AMD’s at an exchange rate of 384 AMD’s to $1.00)

So nice to be able to stop and take pictures where we wanted to. And do other things as I needed to.

It was approaching lunch as we made it into Dilijan. I have a 6th sense when it comes to food. Just ask Dan. Never fails that what I order is always way better than what he orders. Being a good dad, I share and then finish his. As we came into the town I noticed two important things at one spot – three trucks parked along the road and they were parked near some smoke. The Armenians love to grill their meat. You see little grilled meat stand all along the highways. In deference to being from Kansas City I will not call it barbeque. I motioned for Vanya to pull over. I was right. It was a grilled meat restaurant – of sorts. IF YOU ARE SQUIMISH STOP NOW.

Not only was it a grilled meat place it was also a butcher shop. This morning they had butchered a sheep. The fore quarters were hanging on a hook just outside the door, the pelt was rolled up and the head was on a ledge. Dan made an interesting observation. He said “I’ve never seen the face of anything I’ve eaten. There is something “close” about seeing your food that way.” The cook/butcher took the fore quarter off the hook and into the shop and came out with two skewers of meat for the grill. That fresh grilled sheep, a cabbage and carrot salad, cooked wild greens, fried potatoes, cheese and bread was our lunch. And again the nose knows.

At several of the important cultural/archeological sites we have been to there has been interpretative signs in Armenia, English, German, and Russian. Discretely on the lower left hand corner in relatively small print is a notice that the restoration has been supported by USAID. I’ve decided that I’m going to assume that they used my IRS contribution for these projects.

Tomorrow morning we are heading back to Tbilisi Georgia. It is a 7 hour mini-bus ride. We are going to spend 4 or 5 days in Georgia before going back into Turkey. The entire three country trip is about three weeks. Three weeks isn’t even enough for Armenia, one of the best places I’ve ever been.


  1. Hi Norm,

    Just curious, you seem well traveled, so what is it about Armenia that makes it one of the best places you've ever been to?

  2. We found all of Armenia to be nice and especially Yerevan, It is clean, the people are very friendly, the city is well laid out and the prices are VEY reasonable. We found a little pastry shop not too far off of Republic Square and would go there in the evening to get our next morning’s breakfast. On the second visit the shop girls obviously remembered us as they headed straight to the pan of treats w had bought the day before. On every other trip we were treated as regulars – not locals but only because we couldn’t talk to them.

    Day trips from Yerevan are relatively simple. The only hard part is finding the mini-bus departure points the first time. They are scattered all over the city depending on where you want to go. Finding them is not real easy as the material we had was in Latin characters but street signs were in Armenian script. My son Dan ‘charmed “ a young woman at a tour company into helping us find them on a city map. The mini-buses have a rather flexible schedule. They may be schedule to leave at 8:30 but they don’t leave until they are full. Locals know that so they don’t worry to much about being on tim. Outside of Yerevan the country is suffering from disrepair and decay that is so typical of the former Soviet Union. Even though things may be falling apart the country seems to have a since of pride