The Caucasian countries have been on my radar lately, and I always enjoy finding out more about these three countries on the border between Europe and Asia. Annie Babayan visited the Armenian capital Yerevan on an impulse and shares her finds here. Sounds like she had a fab time!
I always make spontaneous decisions. If I were not that angry on that day in Georgia, when I had so seriously argued with my boyfriend, I would probably have never visited Armenia. He and I always travel together. We usually focus on larger countries, so the next country on our travel list was definitely not Armenia. Nevertheless, my unplanned trip turned out to be amazing.
I traveled from Georgia to Armenia by train and noticed the number of people visiting Georgia from Armenia greatly prevailed over the Georgian visitors to Armenia. I was among the few.
The two are neighboring countries, yet with obvious differences. Georgia seems to be more developed and have much more to offer. But that doesn’t make Armenia less attractive. I had only five days, so I had to enjoy them to the full. Since I am never a passive person, I needed some action – but first, a place to stay. I stopped an Armenian girl and she advised I stay at the favourably priced Envoy hostel. It was simple, but the hostel staff treated me very kindly and warmly. We made friends.
Since my time in Armenia was limited, I asked the girl to show me some fun places. She gladly agreed.
Yerevan pubs and restaurants
First off we decided to eat. There are Italian and Chinese restaurants in Yerevan, but I wasn’t much impressed. However, Armenian national cuisine is excellent. In Yerevan, I recommend Dolmama restaurant on Pushkin Street. Their local meat-based dolma is one of the tastiest dishes I have ever eaten.
Another restaurant worth visiting is Urartu on Proshyan Street, where you’ll enjoy not only local food, but also Armenian music and song, popular with some Armenians and ignored by the rest. For traveler me, it was an interesting experience. I even danced.
Among other things to do in Yerevan is visiting pubs. They are all very different. I loved Eco Pub, ideal if you hate smoke and cigarettes. It’s rather small, I doubt the pub could host a group of 30 people even. This is not a pub where you go to dance the night away. Instead, you go for a drink and a nice talk or, if you’re alone, just to enjoy the music, which is neither too loud nor too low, but just right.
Another pub my new good friend advised was That place. When she first said ‘let’s go to That place’, I thought she said Dead place. I didn’t want to go to Dead place, I was kind of scared. Can you imagine how relieved I felt when I saw it was That place? The pub is a good one, with loud music – sometimes 80s pop, which I love. It seemed men and women visit That place for different reasons: men to listen to music and drink whiskey, women to dance.
In Yerevan, don’t miss…
The singing fountains
Day- and nighttime Yerevan feel like two different cities. I prefer nighttime Yerevan, when the city is full of lights and riddles to solve. At Republic Square, I simply loved the singing and dancing fountains. The songs varied greatly; one moment I found myself quietly standing in the square, enjoying the beautiful melody, the next, I danced even crazier than the fountains. It was great!
One of the most crowded streets in Yerevan is the newly built Northern Avenue. With shops, businesses and expensive-looking houses along both sides, I’d say it’s one of the busiest places in the city.
The National Gallery
I also visited the National Gallery, which is a seven story building, housing paintings and sculptures of both Armenian and international artists. There I got acquainted with the art of Armenian sea painter Ivan Aivazovsky. I had never heard of this painter but I was greatly impressed by his work; I’d even say the paintings looked alive.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to explore other parts of Armenia, but judging by what I saw in Yerevan, I concluded that Armenia is a rather rich country. When I told my friend, she said the picture is deceiving, and that I should visit at least three other cities to get a clearer idea of the country. My fifth day was on the doorstep, so I didn’t have time neither to go to bicycle riding, which I’d love to try, nor visit other cities. I promised to come back with my boyfriend, and this fall he and I will visit Armenia during our one month travel in the Caucasus.
Annie is a travel blogger who owns TravelVivi.com, where she regularly shares travel experiences and travel stories.
Photo credits: GoGap, Hovic Armenia Album, ninastoessinger, 517design
I’ve been living in Yerevan for about a month now and agree it’s a great place! Some other places to check out are:
-the Cascade area – the first photo in Annie’s post – it’s a nice hike (they have elevators inside if you prefer) and has great views of the city,
-the food market on Movses Khorenatsi Street – go through the first building with the stalls and get to the building in the back where people sit with bags and boxes of their food for sale,
-stroll through the Vernissage, but don’t buy anything – it’s like a flea market, but with extremely high prices
For bars and pubs, you can’t go wrong around the Cascade, as there are some really nice ones there. Also there are a slew of places that I’d recommend, like:
-Calumet – very smoky and crowded, but fun
-Texas – hard to find, but they have all-you-can-eat wings or crawfish for 1,500 dram (~$4) some nights
-Cactus – with the best selection of tequila and rum in the city that I’ve found to date
If you’re preparing for a trip there or just want to find out more, keep up with my trip at my site http://meanderingwoods.com and if you end up coming to Yerevan drop me a line!
Thanks for the suggestions, Beau. I’ll definitely check out your website. Armenia has been on my list for a while. About time I begin planning…
I recently spent 5 weeks in Yerevan and found this really interesting. I have heard Dolmama is good, but quite expensive compared to what you can find elsewhere. I second Beau’s recommendation for Calumet – extremely smoky, but always a good time and good place to end the night, usually with a mix of locals and ex-pats. I also enjoyed strolling through the Vernissage market – I haggled a bit and had fun with it and didn’t find the prices to be too horrible. I found the National History Museum on Republic Square to be great – lots of English explanations and some really interesting exhibits. Another thing not to miss is the memorial and museum commemorating the Armenian Genocide.
There are some nice day trips to do from Yerevan – Echmiadzin, Garni and Geghard are a few. I also highly recommend heading south to Tatev Monastery and the new cable car there over the Vorotan Gorge.
I’ve eagerly been following your trip through the ex-Soviet Union, Katie. Some very exciting places along your route. Thanks for the suggestions, and especially the day trips. You’re becoming the go-to girl for all three Caucasian countries now 🙂
Crazy! I was just reading up on Yerevan today! Thanks for posting this article, great reading.
Thanks for stopping by, Nate. I seem to see more on Armenia and the other countries in the region these days as well. Such an interesting part of the world.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been to Armenia. Would like to visit it though. One of my friends is there 🙂
A friend is a good excuse to go there.. if you need one 🙂
Awesome suggestions for places to see in Armenia!
Yeah, I’d like to do everything suggested here – both by Annie and in the very informative comments.
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Would definitely love to see Armenia. It’s one of those places you hear of that feels shrouded in mystery. What a descriptive name, That Place. Love the gallery building, looks very impressive. Night time it looks very elegant.
Love those place names that sounds like they are shrouded in mystery – like Samarkand and Bukhara. And Baghdad. And Armenia.
Great tips – I’m visiting Armenia on my RTW trip next year, so really interesting to read about it. Especially liking the fact that the food sounds so delicious! Always a priority 😉
Very interesting. Armenia isn’t normally part of the average RTW trip. Are you going to Azerbaijan and Georgia, too?
I had no idea what Yerevan looked like, thanks for sharing this.
There’s a sizable Armenian community here in Argentina and a few Armenian restaurants, churches and schools.
That’s interesting. Argentina is full of surprises. Wonder what brought Armenians all the way to South America…
Is it bad that I have never heard of it? But sounds cool and keen to check it out now!
You’re probably not alone, Cole. The Caucasian countries aren’t exactly at the top of the tourist trail. Part of what makes them so intriguing.
I LOVE singing fountains! If I was a millionaire and had oodles of disposable income (or royalties or whatever) I’d totally build one in my backyard. =P
Oh, I do, too. The music, the lights, the rustling water…
Wow, Yerevan is definitely not one of those destinations you read often about. Sounds like a lovely city, I’m very curious to visit Armenia, especially its more traditional places.
I really want to visit the Caucus countries… one day!
I want to visit all three. Hope to find time this year or next.
This looks very nice – I’ve always been curious about Georgia…
It does look very appealing, doesn’t it. Especially night-time Yerevan.
I haven’t been to Armenia yet but these sound like great suggestions! Thanks 🙂
Thanks for stopping by.
hey, nice to see ,
i want to visit Yerevan , i want to know the procedure and requirements ?
Armenia is very modern and offer e-Visas.
Very nice read on Yerevan, I’ve been to both Tblisi and Yerevan and have to say that I prefer Yerevan to Tblisi, however outside Yerevan Georgia is more developed. I felt Georgia was quite behind when it came to the nightlife scene and that there wasn’t really any pulse in the city thats what I like about Yerevan, it’s like a small little burtsling cosmopolitan city.