BESIDES monasteries, there is still plenty to see in Armenia.
In Yerevan, we visited the Erebuni Fortress (Erebuni is the old name of Yerevan), the Matenadaran Library, which has one of the richest depositories of manuscripts and books in the world.
Another main attraction was the Yerevan Cascade. It is a giant staircase that houses the biggest collection of modern art in Armenia. There are escalators that take you to the top, and at every level, there are fountains and pieces of modern art.
One important site that we visited was the Genocide Memorial. It commemorated the horrible event that took place in 1915. We also
visited Ashtarak, the Alphabet Park which had the Armenian letters in giant blocks. The only non-Christian temple we visited was Garni, a rare pagan temple in Armenia. It reminded me so much of the Acropolis in Greece.
The food in Armenia was absolutely delicious! It is very similar to middle-eastern cuisine, but in my own opinion, it has a milder and well-curated taste palate. Every meal typically started with some lavash (their bread which is similar to a tortilla), fresh herbs like coriander and dill and their local cheese. The herbs were always fresh and the three together tasted so good. We actually saw lavash being made in one of our meal stops – some make it in a tandoori pit. A few of our meals were in houses of Armenians, and were the most pleasant ones I’ve ever had. The whole vibe of being outdoors with cool and crisp air, good food, and drinking homemade wine from a jug was just too good for words. Staples in their dishes are meats like lamb, chicken and pork. They also have several dishes that used bulgur instead of rice, although rice pilafs were present in some meals. One typical Armenian dish is dolma – ground up meat that is stuffed in grape leaves and served with a yoghurt garlic sauce. So delicious!
We visited Areni, a region that made wine. I really loved that they also made wine from other fruits. There was blackberry (my personal favorite), pomegranate and even cherry wine.
I really hope that people reading this article will want to go and visit. I would recommend getting a private tour – we had the nicest and most patient guide and I think it was way easier to get around the place if you’re with a local.
My family and I have all agreed that Armenia is definitely one of the best countries we visited. I feel like it’s a country that is so underappreciated! It is beautiful, with the most delicious food and a really rich history. You can also sense the Armenian pride and see how they love their country so much. Armenians who live and even grew up abroad never forget their roots. Some of the very rich ones even send back money to the country, not to their families, but to build public roads and bridges. They give back and help their country, and I find that really heartwarming.
I hope more people will want to experience this amazing country! I already want to plan my next trip back!--Celyn Sala