Armenia,  Asia,  Travels

First impression of Armenia

It’s time to summarize my trip to Armenia. I would like to share with you my first impression of the journey. Here you can find general information about Armenia: where to sleep, what to see, where to eat delicious Armenian cuisine.

It was the best time I have spent. Armenia is a beautiful country with breathtaking views, kind and helpful people, many attractions and places of interests, and delicious food.

While traveling around the country, I admired the scenic landscape of Armenia. Everywhere I looked, I was surrounded by mountains and valleys, meadows and pastures, sheep and cattle – in one word, pictures of idyll. I like the most view pasturing sheep and wandering cattle on the road.

The cattle on the pasture
The cattle on the pasture

Everywhere you look, you are surrounded by mountains, valleys, meadows and pastures.
Everywhere you look, you are surrounded by mountains, valleys, meadows and pastures

Armenia offers a lot of attractions. Nature lovers, as well as history lovers, find many places for themselves. You can follow the Silk Road and visit interesting places on the way (e.g. medieval bridge close to Yeghegnadzor or Selim Caravanserai – a place where travelers could rest and recover from the day’s journey). Additionally, you can find there a lot of churches, monasteries, and temples – after all, Armenia was the first country which accepted the Catholic faith. For nature lovers, close to Yerevan is located the most popular and visited a place – Sevan Lake, one of the largest freshwater high-altitude (alpine) lakes in Eurasia.

As you certainly know, Armenia is a country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia. It is located in Western Asia on the Armenian Highlands. Armenia is bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, Azerbaijan to the east, and Iran and Azerbaijan’s exclave of Nakhchivan to the south.

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When is the best time to travel to Armenia

The climate in Armenia is continental, with hot summers and cold winters. The mountainous landscape of Armenia aids lower temperature and a large amount of snow in winter when occurs rough weather. 

I was in Armenia at the beginning of May. The temperature was different in every part of the country – it changed while changing of geographical position. It was sunny, sometimes cloudy and windy, one day we had torrent. At the top of the mountains, there was a lot of snow.

During my journey, nights were cold. Unfortunately, in some hotels, there wasn’t heating. 

I think the best time to travel to Armenia is between June and September. The only reason why you should visit Armenia in winter season is skiing. Armenia has a few ski resorts, but supposedly they are in bad conditions.

Snowy Selim Caravanserai
Snowy Selim Caravanserai

Rent a car and travel around the country

The best option to explore Armenia is to rent a car. If you arrive at Zvartnots Airport in Yerevan there are many rental agencies (you can also rent a car in the city center). We rented a car without a four-wheel drive as many people recommend. Total cost for a rental was about 260 $ for 5 days with full insurance and additional driver.

Petrol in Armenia is relatively cheap (at least in comparison to Poland). I guess the price is established by the government because at every petrol station the price was the same. 1 liter of petrol costs 420 AMD. When you pay in cash, be sure that you get the right change – sometimes employees makes the lower change.

Unfortunately, roads in Armenia are in bad condition. There are a lot of cracks – here and there roads look like Swiss cheese. It was dangerous because there are no signs informing about the bad pavement. Additionally, you should watch out for animals on the road.

Wandering cattle on the road
Wandering cattle on the road
Horses on the road
Horses on the road

Before my journey, I read about police control on the road. Supposedly, is normal there that policemen stop your car (they know good which cars are from rental agencies) and you have to pay a bribe to not to pay a high ticket. I’m not sure about this information, because during my journey I didn’t see any police cars. Anyway, we didn’t have any unexpected situations.

I think, it was a good idea to travel around Armenia by car. While traveling, I didn’t see any public buses. We were independent, we could change our plans or spontaneously plan every day of our trip. We could reach every place we wanted. I recommend this option.

Accommodation in Armenia

In small villages, people often don’t speak English. I was in Armenia with a friend who knows little Russian, so we could communicate with them, but sometimes it was hard. Nevertheless, people are very kind and try to help.

There is no problem with finding accommodation. Standardly, I booked rooms before our trip. In almost every place in the final price we had breakfest – mainly lavash, various cheeses, jam, eggs, and tea. One day we got khachapuri. Prices for rental are low, eg. for a room for 4 people we paid about 14 000 AED.

As I mentioned earlier, nights were cold and unfortunately, in some places we didn’t have heating. Additionally, the description and picture of room sometimes didn’t fit reality. 

Below I share with you places which I can recommend you:

1. Yeghegnadzor

Spandaryan House

Spandaryan 45, 3601 Yeghegnadzor, Armenia

2. Sevan

Arevik Beach

Sevan, M4 highway 72 km, 1503 Sewan, Armenia 

3. Vanadzor

DownTown B&B

9 Garegin Nzhdeh Street, 2021 Wanadzor, Armenia

If you have any question, please let me know about it.

Local food

Armenian cuisine reveals the geography, history, and a culture of the country. It is rich in fresh vegetables, different cheeses, meat, and fish. The first component of almost every dish is lavash – local thin flatbread (sometimes you can meet it sweet version made of fruit puree). Every dish (except for spas – a yogurt soup) was delicious.

Below you can find a list of Armenian local food you can’t miss during your journey. 

1. Gata – a sweet bread, a typical Armenian pastry. Every region of the contry has its own variety of gata – in different size, shape, and various decorations. The main ingredients of gata are flour, nuts, and baking soda.

2. Churchkela – a typical Armenian snickers. You can’t leave the country without trying it. It is a candle-shaped candy made mainly of grapes and walnuts (it is a string of walnut halves that have been dipped in grape juice and then dried in the sun). The preparation of Churchkela starts usually in Autumn when the primary ingredients are harvested.

Churchkela - Armeniam snickers
Churchkela – Armeniam snickers

3. Dolma – minced meat mixed with rice and a variety of herbs and spices wrapped in fresh grape or cabbage leaves. You can also find it a vegetarian option. In Tatev I ate dolma in shape of stuffed mushrooms potatoes halves. Delicious!

4. Tabbouleh – it is a typical salad made of bulgur, parsley, mint and chopped vegetables (tomatoes, onion, red pepper, cucumber, and garlic) tossed in fresh lemon juice and olive oil. 

5. Khorovats – a barbequed Armenian meat kebab (it can be made with lamb, pork, beef or chicken). A typical khorovats is made of chunks of meat grilled on a skewer. This meal is generally reserved for special occasions.

6. Stuffed vegetables – in almost every menu you can find stuffed vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants) with minced meat mixed with rice and a variety of herbs and spices. There is an option for vegetarian as well.

7. Tourshi (Tourshou) – Armenian pickled vegetables and fruits which you can buy on the road in one of many little market stands. 

Armenian pickled vegetables and fruits
Armenian pickled vegetables and fruits

More interesting facts

1. Armenia has a population of approximately 3 million people with about 8 million Armenians living throughout the world.

2. In Armenia, just as in Georgia, at all supra (feast) or at a wedding should be a tamada – a toastmaster, one person who introduces each toast, entertains guests and supervises the entire event.

3. In Armenia, weddings and wedding receptions take place every day. During my trip, I saw two wedding ceremonies. Armenian people are very familial, so at every event invite many guests. At wedding receptions, men dance traditional Armenian dance. According to tradition the groom and his family pay for the wedding. 

Wedding in Armenia
Wedding in Armenia

4. Despite equality of men and women in Armenia, in smaller cities and villages you can notice division among Armenian women and men. Women rarely work, mainly do housework, cook, and do babysitting. In comparison to men, they drink little alcohol and can’t smoke. Often you will see groups of men who sit together, drinking alcohol, smoking, talking and playing their favorite game called Backgammon.

 

Do you need more information about Armenia? Don’t hesitate to contact me.

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