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Stunning Armenia, a fascinating glimpse into Noah’s land

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#81 Yervant1


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Posted 23 July 2017 - 08:46 AM


July 21 2017
Why Armenia Should be Your Next Travel Destination!

Friday, 21 July 2017

Blogger Veathika Jain discovers a new fantasy just three hours away from Dubai

It’s strange that despite an overwhelming history, inspiring culture and stunning natural beauty, Armenia hasn’t found itself on the world’s best travel destinations list yet. This Caucasian nation has a rich heritage laced with art and mind-blowing architecture that sits comfortably with its modern outlook making it a wonderful country to discover. A place that leaves you intrigued by its history, amazed by its monuments and charmed by its simplicity, travelling here is a mix of the old and the new.

The most popular touristy sites are the incredible, ancient monasteries but there is enough in its amazing landscape to explore for adventure lovers. The capital, Yerevan, especially, is delightful with its modern malls and historic old buildings. Put this all together and you have a great travel experience so close to Dubai.


A flight takes less than three hours from Dubai to Yerevan and Indian nationals with UAE residence visa get visa on arrival. The visa at Yerevan airport will cost you USD6 and you’ll be out of the airport in no time.

We chose Air Arabia direct flight of about two and a half hours to Yerevan in Armenia and we got a very sweet deal of return airfare, hotel stay with breakfast for under Dhs1000 per person. Yes, it’s that easy! There are other airlines like Qatar Airways and FlyDubai that fly to Yerevan.


  • From its pedestrian modern street of North Avenue with all big brands to basement bars and pubs on Pushkin Street, Yerevan city is a must-visit. It has a great mix of the old and the new.
  • The statues throughout the city and the art in its buildings are something you can stare at for hours.
  •  The Vernissage is an open-air market in the city centre and it’s a veritable treasure trove of mini barrels, wooden chess sets, handmade jewellery and paintings. We did our entire souvenir shopping from this stunning market.
  • The architecture of this city is gorgeous. Its old buildings, facades, churches and monasteries are beautiful with some unique stone and wood carving.
  • The drive to other attractions near Yerevan like Khor Virap and Noravank Monastery is interesting with Mount Arafat always in view.
  • The small town of Areni, well known for its fruit grape is quite stark but the taste of the beverage makes up for the starkness. These are special fruit grapes that are all organic.
  • The organic food and drinks that you get everywhere in Armenia is healthy and fresh.
The Opera House at Yeravan


  • The churches and monasteries can get a tad boring. Don’t get me wrong, they are beautiful but there are just too many. If you have seen the important ones, you’ve seen them all. The main attractions in Armenia are the monasteries all over the country.
  • Khor Virap Monastery is one of those buildings that is being rebuilt since the sixth century. Legend has it that pagan King Trdat III imprisoned St Gregory the Illuminator (Surp Grigor Lusavorich) here for around 12 years. We went down a metal ladder into the well where the saint was incarcerated. It’s a stark circular room and gets very crowded. There’s no one to monitor the up and down traffic to the well.


  • Free walking tour in Yerevan. Use Yerevan Walking Tour, led by Vako who knows all the stories, legends and is an artist himself. He takes you to interesting places and ends the tour at a local pub, which is cheap and full of youngsters. See this: www.facebook.com/Yerevan FreeWalkingTour/
  • Visit the History Museum of Armenia in Yerevan. One of the iconic buildings with a fountain in the front, it houses two museums. The history museum has an extraordinary collection of Bronze Age artefacts with many of the items excavated in the 1950s. The building also has the art museum on one floor, which shows the history of Armenian art.
  • Take a day trip to Areni village and cave and Noravank monastery. Archeologists discovered the 6100-year-old winery, in 2007 at the Areni caves. The urns and pots are as it is and there are other ruins as well. Whereas the Noravank monastery is a 13th century church, atop a hill, with a stunning stone staircase jutting out of the building. It’s a bit hard to climb up and down but it’s worth the adventure.
  • Visit the Garni Temple outside Yerevan. Armenia’s King Trdat I built it in 1st century AD. Overlooking the Azat River, the temple was dedicated to the heathen sun god, Mitra. Large parts of the temple were destroyed in the 1679 earthquake. The Parthenon-like structure was rebuilt between 1969 and 1975.


Stunning Landscape


  • Armenian cuisine has some specialty, though it has been largely influenced by its history and neighbouring countries. Dolma is a grape leaf in which vegetables and meat are wrapped and this dish is available everywhere.
  • Zhingyalov hats is a type of flatbread like naan, stuffed with finely diced herbs and green vegetables. It is a vegetarian and traditional dish of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh. In Yerevan there’s a restaurant by the same name that only serves this dish.
  • When it comes to food, visit Yerevan Tavern, just off Republic Square. They have traditional Armenian dishes, great local grape and also Khachapuri from neighbouring Georgia. You might find the staff a bit snooty if you go during peak times, but don’t let them get to you. Their menu has some great veg options.


  • Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity and they have a church to prove that. Holy Etchimiadzin church was built in early fourth century.
  • Chess is taught in Armenian schools. Beautiful wooden chessboards in wood are available at Vernissage market.
  • Apricot is one of the symbols of Armenia. The orange colour of the flag comes from the fruit. Apricots are sold everywhere, from fresh and dried fruit, juice to apricot flavoured grape.

#82 Yervant1


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Posted 28 July 2017 - 09:45 AM

Armenian Weekly
July 27 2017
A Pakistani’s Love Letter to Armenian Pop Music and TV

By Contributor on July 27, 2017 



By Sarmad Iqbal

Special for the Armenian Weekly

Barev dzez (hello), to all my Armenian friends who will be reading my love letter to their country’s pop music and TV series.

Although my country, Pakistan, doesn’t have any sort of formal diplomatic relations with Armenia because of diplomatic pressures on Pakistani leaders from Armenia’s adversaries Turkey and Azerbaijan, I have been in love with your great nation Armenia.


‘Barev dzez, to all my Armenian friends who will be reading my love letter…’

Armenia for me isn’t just a country surrounded by hostile neighbors like Turkey and Azerbaijan, or a country that Kardashians, Cher, and Charles Aznavour have made popular globally. Armenia for me is a cradle of civilization, a land of unspoiled beauty with its snow-peaked mountains, lush green valleys, and life-giving rivers (which I have seen in different online documentaries about Armenia, out of my curiosity to know more about your great nation).

Armenia is a land that has been continually invaded by different civilizations and has been a battlefield for rival empires, but has maintained its character and nature in the midst of all invasions and all attempts by outsiders to eradicate the identity of Armenians. Greater attempts to eradicate Armenia from the map of the world and to deprive Armenians of their identity resulted in greater resistance from sons and daughters of your great nation to safeguard their national identity and motherland. Armenians showed to the world that the use of physical force and power is not adequate to extinguish their passion and devotion for their nation.

I have always been quite curious and eager about exploring Armenia, as it is a country with which my country’s relations are almost nonexistent, and that nonexistent part was enough to augment my curiosity to explore Armenia. However, I cannot travel to Armenia as a Pakistani citizen because of nonexistent Armenia-Pakistan relations and nonexistent Armenian embassies or consulates (or anything pertaining to your beautiful nation) in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, and other cities of my country.

Because of all such barriers to accessing Armenia and Armenians, I decided to explore Armenia (a country that many in my country do not even know exists on the world map) through the medium of music and TV series. I have been vehemently against all the anti-Armenian one-dimensional and biased coverage of Nagorno-Karabagh (Artsakh) conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan by my country’s media, and that biased media coverage also played a pivotal role in my exploration of what Armenia really is. Is it really such a “bad” country? The only thing reported about Armenia in Pakistani newspapers or news channels, and only too occasionally, is that “Armenia is killing Azerbaijani brothers of Pakistan.” That biased media coverage also irked me and furthered my curiosity to explore Armenia. Armenian pop music and TV series, like Full House, were my only resort to exploring an Armenia that is different from the one portrayed in Pakistani, Turkish, and Azerbaijani media.

My first-ever foray into Armenian culture was through Armenian pop music and songs of singers like Lilit Hovhannisyan, Mihran Tsarukyan, Lusine Poghosyan, Gaby Galoyan, and Hripsime Hakobyan.


Armenian pop singer Lilit Hovhannisyan

One day, while I was looking for some new song of Katy Perry’s on YouTube, I came across “Es Em Horinel” by Armenian pop singer Lilit Hovhannisyan, and that song was even better than the Katy Perry song I was looking for. And that is when my exploration of Armenia started, along with the eradication of all the stereotypes I had heard about Armenia and Armenians. Lilit had a mesmerizing voice that soothed me, and I practically had ear orgasms even though the song melodiously sung by Lilit wasn’t in my native language or in a language I can fathom easily; it was in Armenian, and from then onward I also fell in love with the Armenian language.

I then also started studying Armenian, and I found this ancient and legendary language full of beauty as its speakers are. I also started eagerly discovering the historical background of Armenian, and I was astounded when I discovered that Armenian thrived in Europe, Russia, and elsewhere in the world where Armenians were living before the creation of an independent state of their own, before Armenian independence from the USSR in 1990s. I also found Armenian more fascinating when I found out that Armenian has similarities, and shares many words with, Iranian Farsi, as Farsi has so many words in common with my native language and mother tongue, Urdu (the national language of Pakistan), and there is a strong Iranian influence on Pakistani culture, alongside the influence of Indian and Arab cultures.

Armenian has the word sug for “grief,” and both Farsi and Urdu also have soog for grief, which shows how we are connected through our respective languages, even though the link between Armenian and Urdu is distant and there is an intermediary, Farsi. But it still connects us somehow, despite almost nonexistent Armenia-Pakistan relations and Pakistan’s not recognizing Armenia as a state. Other words in common* between Armenian and Urdu include the word for time, vaght, as Armenians call it, while we Pakistanis call it waqt. We have the word jawan for young, similar to jivan in your jahel-jivan. We also have the word for the color orange in common, as you have narinj and Pakistanis have naranji in Urdu. You have nshanfor sign and we have nishan in Urdu. You have the word tag for crown, and we have the word taj.

Tsavum yem (I am sorry) for deviating a bit from the topic of my article, which is about my love for Armenian pop music and TV shows, and I hope I will be able to write an entire article on the common words between Armenian and Urdu after this article for Armenian Weekly.

After listening to several songs of Lilit Hovhannisyan, including “De El Mi” (in which she had an Indian Bollywood theme to her song video), I was more mesmerized and allured by Lilit’s magical, melodious voice. In “De El Mi,” it seemed as if Lilit isn’t from a country far from Pakistan, but a familiar Bollywood diva who dances as if she is the sweetheart of millions and as if the stage is her paradise on Earth. Lilit did not seem too foreign in that music video of “De El Mi” to me, and she danced like Bollywood queens, such as Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra.

I know some Armenian friends reading this must be astonished over my going easy with Bollywood, which is an Indian movie industry, whereas India is perceived globally as not on good terms with, and arch-rival of, Pakistan, but that is all the rubbish spread by politicians for their own benefit; the public in Pakistan and India love each other, and in fact Pakistanis are as big fans of Bollywood as their Indian counterparts.

After songs like “De El Mi,” “Es Em Horinel,” “Te Axjik Lineyir,” and “Indz Chspanes,” I also came across another melodious hit of Lilit’s, “Te inchu em qez sirum” (Why do I love you)with another Armenian pop star and charming actor Mihran Tsarukyan, and that song has been pivotal in healing me whenever I feel sad or whenever I confront some problem or a stressful tribulation. Their duet of magical voices has always been enough to heal me and take me out of gloomy stress.


Actor Mihran Tsarukyan

Apart from Mihran’s brilliant singing, I also fell in love with his acting in my favorite Armenian TV series, the comedy-drama Full House, in which he played the role of Arsen Grigoryan, who is Lika’s (Lika is the boyfriend of one of the main characters of the series, played by the stunning Armenian actress Arpi Gabrielyan, in Seasons 4, 5, and 7). This TV series gave me further insight into the daily lives of Armenians enjoying their lives—and not always fighting some war or doing something “bad” as portrayed by the media here. Apart from Mihran Tsarukyan and Arpi Gabrielyan, in this TV series I also relished the acting of Gor Hakobyan as Feliks, who was Tatev’s (played by actress Ani Yeranyan) boyfriend from Season 5 onward. I also relished a scene in one episode (I have unfortunately forgotten which), where Lika and Arsen and some other characters dance to a hit Bollywood song from the movie Dirty Picture.That scene was so fun-filled, with every character supposedly in Indian attire, that I couldn’t take my eyes off each character even for a minute.


‘I also fell in love with his acting in my favorite Armenian TV series, the comedy-drama Full House, ‘


Gaby Galoyan

I also fell in love with songs like “Davachan Es” by Gaby Galoyan, who also splendidly danced throughout the entire song, which was for me a kind of a mélange of Western and Eastern values. From the accompanying dance to the background music, the song had vibes of both something old and something new—also true of Armenia, which is an amalgam of old and new, possessing both a glorious past and a progressive present, and a potentially progressive future.

And how can I forget how infatuated I am with the song “Sers” by diva Lusine Poghosyan. That song, apart from being melodious, has a scenic and beautiful video shot on a seashore. And last but not least is another ravishing Armenian singing queen, Hripsime Hakobyan, whose song “Im Sirt Liqn A” has been my all-time favorite, especially the music video’s traditional Armenian dance—which, well, wasn’t too traditional but was, again, as in Gaby Galoyan’s “Davachan Es,” a beautiful amalgam of East and West (more specifically, Eastern Europe and Middle East, to my eye).

I hope those reading my article will like the kind of exploration of Armenia I had through pop music and TV series like Full House. My exploration reinforces the notion that art, including music, has no boundaries and is always free.

Tstesutyun (goodbye), my Armenian friends, and arrayzhm (see you soon)! I hope one day to be able to visit Armenia and relish your great nation by beholding its natural beauty and glorious ancient monasteries and churches, and also food festivals like the Dolma festival, in person.


sa-150x150.jpgSarmad Iqbal is a Pakistani blogger, writer, and student who has a penchant for reading, writing, learning languages, and studying religions, cultures, and geopolitical affairs, and can be reached at his twitter id @sarmadiqbal7.

*Editor’s note: Many of the words cited by the author as Armenian are in fact from colloquial usage, and they are borrowings from Iranian languages, Arabic, and Turkish.


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#83 Yervant1


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Posted 20 August 2017 - 10:10 AM

Armenpress News Agency , Armenia
August 18, 2017 Friday

'Armenia uncovered' documentary to discover contemporary Armenia for foreigners

YEREVAN, AUGUST 18, ARMENPRESS. ‘Armenia uncovered’ documentary will
present Armenia to foreigners, reports Armenpress.

Armenian cultural figures from different parts of the world are
involved in the film-making process.

‘The beautified project’ group founder Andre Simonyan told reporters
the film will be probably screened by any international TV channel.

“The purpose of the film is to introduce Armenia, Armenians to
foreigners. For many people Armenia is a post-Soviet country that
tries to reach Europe. They want to present contemporary Armenia. In
the film Armenia will be presented as a very interesting multicultural
country with its nature, cuisine aimed at attracting tourists”, Andre
Simonyan said, adding that the title of the film ‘Armenia uncovered’
already hints that Armenia is a secret that they want to discover for

He informed that the authors shoot different sectors of the country’s
culture - cuisine, theatrical art, music, fashion…

The film-making crew was also interested in the International Barbecue
festival and they decided to include it in the film.

“The film-making team consists of nationals from different countries.
The team consists of Austrian, American, as well as Yerevan residents.
Every day they try to visit 3-4 places to shoot different things”,
Simonyan said.

#84 Yervant1


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Posted 10 September 2017 - 08:02 AM

Panorama, Armenia
Sept 9 2017
Englishman Val Ismaili takes adventurous trip to Armenia, conquers four peaks of Aragats

21 years old Val Ismaili, who lives in England and is currently studying Civil Engineering in Bristol University, has made an adventurous trip to Armenia, conquering the four peaks of Mount Aragats and walking to Batumi through the territory of Armenia within eight weeks.

In an interview with Panorama.am, Val Ismaili has shared the details of his incredible trip.  

- Where have you been in Armenia?

- I walked through entire of Armenia. I start in Meghri, walked through Shikahogh to Kapan and climbed Mount Khustup, kept walking to Tatev, then Sisian, through mountains of Vayots Dzor to Artavan and then Noravank and walked all the way through Geghama mountains to Dilijan. This took me 4 weeks. Only walking, no transport!

I stayed in Dilijan to work with The Transcaucasian Trail and build a new hiking trail from Dilijan-Parz Lich-Gosh.

I then continued walking through the mountains in Dilijan National Park to Alaverdi and then to Georgia, I kept walking all the way to Batumi.

I became the first person to walk 1500km of The Transcaucasian Trail.


#85 Yervant1


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Posted 10 September 2017 - 08:03 AM


- You have reached four peaks of Aragats Mountain. How long did it take you to conquer them? Why did you decide to climb the mountain and which part of it was the most difficult for you to overcome?

- I completed the four peaks in a total time of 9 hours, starting at Kari Lake, walking to the n-e pass to completed the East and North peaks and then back to the s-w pass to complete West and South peaks before finishing at Kari Lake. I was only walking for about 7 hours, the other 2 hours I relaxed on the peaks to enjoy the awesome views.

Aragats is such an incredibly beautiful mountain! When I was on the North and East peaks the sky was perfectly blue and I could see most of Armenia. Probably my favourite view on any mountain I've ever climbed! But when I got to the West peak very strong winds began and it actually started snowing - it was cool to experience different weather conditions in one day.

- Please share your impressions about Armenia's nature.

- Armenia has a fascinating range of nature. Down south in the province of Syunik, Shikahogh State Reserve and Arevik National Park offer their own wilderness through dense forests contrasted with the vast sweeping mountains of volcanic origin in the Geghama range or even the rocky cliffs North of Dilijan or the stunning gorge in Alaverdi.

Syunik and Geghama were my favourite areas. Syunik because of the lush greenery everywhere and seeing birds I never even knew existed. Geghama because of how wild and remote those mountains are. People are few and far between; you really feel like you're out there on your own at the mercy of landscape.

For a country the size of Armenia, the range of scenery throughout the country is very impressive. Walking through Armenia and being able to notice the gradual change of scenery was a special experience.

- How long did it take you to walk from the southern Armenia to Batumi? What obstacles did you experience along the road?

-  It took me 8 weeks of hiking to complete the 1500km trek from Meghri to Batumi. I was walking on average 30km per day. Although this was physically challenging; the most difficult was the mental aspect for being alone for such a long time. You start to feel very lonely and not happy. But eventually the loneliness passes. Although I stopped at small villages and stayed with shepherds in the mountains, I don't speak enough Armenian to have a good conversation.

- In general, as a tourist what can you say about Armenia and its cuisine? Where did you usually eat?

- Armenian food is amazing! When I walked I was carrying a small camping stove so I could cook myself pasta and tuna or ramen which I would buy when I was in a big town that had a shop. So I would carry food for 3-5 days. But almost everyday when I was walking, shepherds would see me and invite me in for food, coffee and of course Oghri. My favourite dish was probably Matsun and freshly baked breadade by the shepherds.

I pretty much only ate lavash by itself for breakfast and dinner. It's nice because it's easy to carry, tastes good and you can use it as napkin as well. 


- What is your profession? Have you taken similar trips in other states? If it is so, which one is the most impressive journey for you?

-  I'm 21 years old and currently studying civil engineering at the University of Bristol in England. Hiking is my passion and my favourite thing to do in my free time.

I've hiked all over England, Scotland and Wales and in Albania, Kosovo and Croatia as well.

My expedition hiking the Transcaucasian Trail through Armenia and Georgia is by far my favourite trip so far because of both the range of nature in Armenia but also the friendliness and hospitality of the Armenian people. I've never experienced anything like it!

- Will you climb Mount Ararat one day?”

- Hmm that's an interesting question...you're giving me ideas now! I've never been to Ararat (but really want to). You're making me want to try now.

- What is the last thing you intend to do before leaving Armenia?

- I think I'll go up to the cascades and enjoy the view of Ararat one last time. Hopefully it'll be good weather.


#86 Yervant1


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Posted 11 September 2017 - 08:19 AM

MediaMax, Armenia
Sept 10 2017
Dirk Lorenz talks Armenians’ stubbornness and definite “yes”

German Dirk Lorenz, who served as Head of the Political, Economic, Press and Information Department of the EU delegation in Armenia for around 4 years, left the country in recent days. He moved to Brussels to work as Deputy Head of Division for the Eastern Partnership Countries in the European External Action Service. Dirk Lorenz talked to Mediamax before leaving and told us about peculiarities and challenges of living and working in Armenia. 


Armenia is a European country in the scheme of things. That’s why it was quite easy for us to settle in here. We had but a few strange or challenging moments. Armenia is a very beautiful country, the climate is nice and warm, and the fruit and vegetables are delicious. 


When I just came to Armenia, driving was a big challenge for me. I first thought there were no rules on the road and the mirrors served for refreshing make-up, not watching the traffic. Some time later I realized there were rules, actually, I just had to get used to them. I can say proudly I didn’t have a single accident in these four years. 

middle_1504848723_1730828.jpg Dirk Lorenz with wife

Photo: Photo Atelier Marashlyan Retro


I noticed that sometimes Armenians talk very loudly, smoke very thin cigarettes, and hold hands behind the back. 


Working with Armenians is very interesting and not so easy at times. They can be very uncompromising and stubborn, but if you manage to find common ground with them, they open to dialogue and discussion. 

If Armenians befriend you, it’s a friendship for years.

Armenians are very honest and reliable as friends. If an Armenian says “yes”, it’s a definite, clear “yes”. 


There’s a big difference between the capital and rural communities. I visited almost all nearby and borderline villages. In some places, the poverty rate is worrying. I was shocked by living conditions that people endure in certain parts of Shirak marz. Many years passed after the earthquake but housing remains a huge problem for some people.
middle_1504848723_1957630.jpg Dirk Lorenz with family

Photo: Photo Atelier Marashlyan Retro

Armenians’ hospitality is the same anywhere, even in the poorest villages. I could see people had very little to offer to the guests but were ready to share. People here do everything to make the guest comfortable. That’s very impressive. You won’t meet such hospitality in Germany. 


Armenia is a wonderful country but it can be better. I wish it were easier to visit Armenia and the touristic infrastructure were more developed. There are so many beautiful places here, why keep them hidden from the world? 

I think Armenia should present itself to the world in all areas. Believe me, not everyone knows where Armenia is on the map or what a wonderful, curious country with a rich history it is. 


When I asked my daughter what she wanted to do next summer, she said, “I want to go to Armenia.” We really love Armenia and Armenians.

#87 gamavor


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Posted 26 September 2017 - 04:36 AM

Just came back from a trip to Armenia. Indeed nothing short than stunning. The most exalting of all is the younger generation. Hrashk yerdasartner unenk!!!
BTW went to the place with the supposed gravitational anomaly equipped with proper measurement tools, but it is simply an optical illusion. Very good one, though. But Ambert is really a magical place (it is on the same way, but few kilometers up the mountain).

Armenia changed a lot. I dare to say Yerevan looks as if you are somewhere in western Europe. Very clean, very orderly (except the "jigit" driving habits of the locals).

#88 Yervant1


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Posted 26 September 2017 - 09:32 AM

News.am, Armenia
Sept 25 2017
Lithuanian blogger: Azerbaijani black lists do not frighten tourists coming to Karabakh (PHOTO)
12:31, 25.09.2017












Lithuanian blogger Stanislav Gorbunov shared his impressions about the trip to Armenia nad Nagorno-Karabakh

 “I have just come back from a week-long trip to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. These places have become a real discovery. It is necessary to go there right now, while the world tourism industry is not too interested in these regions,” Gorbunov wrote.

However, the blogger was most impressed not by natural attractions, ancient history or amazing beauty of the monasteries, but people who live there.

“I was fascinated by their cordiality, kindness and openness,” he wrote, adding that he devotes his first photo essay from this trip to the Armenians “ who seem so distant and so close to us at the same time.”

“Look at these faces and you will immediately understand whether it is worth going, if you have not been here yet, and whether it will be interesting and comfortable for you here,” Gorbunov added.

The blogger also had a chance to visit the wine festival in the Karabakh village of Tog: “Many people from all over the world gathered here. They were apparently not frightened by black lists of Azerbaijan.”






#89 gamavor


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Posted 02 October 2017 - 01:37 PM

#90 Yervant1


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Posted 06 October 2017 - 08:09 AM

Mr. Lerwill thanks for the uplifting article about Armenia, but you forgot to mention that your UK still denies the Armenian Genocide! 


Oct 5 2017
Why Armenians love strangers

Armenians, like their Caucasus neighbours, have long been renowned for generosity to outsiders – a result of the country’s historical location on the Silk Road

                                          By Ben Lerwill

5 October 2017

I never meant to spend the night in Dilijan. I’d been making my way through northern Armenia towards the capital city of Yerevan, having crossed from Georgia several days earlier. My travels were taking me south, but slowly. The landscapes up here were all muscle and brawn: dry escarpments and deep, hefty canyons.

It was clear early on that Armenia was going to be interesting

It was clear early on that Armenia was going to be interesting. After crossing the border from Georgia I’d hopped onto an old marshrutka – one of the cheap, omnipresent public minibuses that beetle through the Caucasus – and as we pulled away the driver placed a live bird, delicate and honey-coloured, onto the dashboard.

The bird watched the road for five minutes, fluttered in circles over the unperturbed passengers then departed through the window and out into the tough, tawny hills. Was this a homing exercise? A good-luck ritual? I never found out. A sign to expect the unexpected, maybe.



The marshrutka bus is an affordable way to travel through the Caucasus (Credit: Kasia Nowak/Alamy)


But I never meant to spend the night in Dilijan. I’d dawdled for too long around the Unesco-listed monasteries of Debed Canyon, and by the time I arrived in late afternoon, the marshrutkas, I gathered via sign language, were resolutely done for the day. No transport was forthcoming.

But the little town was attractive, slung across slopes cloaked in oak woods. A night here would surely be no hardship. I later learned that in Soviet times Dilijan had earned a reputation as an artists’ retreat, and that its picturesque forested location means it gets referred to as ‘Little Switzerland’.

I did, however, need a place to stay. Consulting my outdated guidebook yielded a solitary guesthouse address, which after some investigative work (I found the Armenian alphabet as impenetrable as medieval sheet music), I eventually located high up in the town outskirts. I hoped, as I climbed the street, that I might at least find someone in.



Armenians have long been renowned for generosity to outsiders (Credit: MehmetO/Alamy)


The house was on a quiet residential hill, set back from a dusty road behind metal gates. I knocked, and was met with a long silence. Guests, it seemed, were not a regular occurrence. The chance was considerable, I realised, that it was no longer even a guesthouse. I wondered whether I might have the wrong place. I tried hollering the Armenian words for hello – an optimistic “barev dzez” – into the driveway, first tentatively, then louder, feeling foolish. At last there were footsteps, and the gates were opened by a middle-aged lady in an apron.

She looked at me quizzically. I pointed to my guidebook. To my relief she smiled and took my elbow, ushering me towards the house. I was shown to a basic room with a bed smothered in colourful floral blankets. I became aware that the house was humming with noise. Laughter rang down the corridor. “Nineteen o’clock,” said the lady, in English, pointing to the room opposite. She mimed eating. “Nineteen o’clock.”

I was tired, and confused too – I hadn’t expected dinner – but at 7pm I did as I was asked. What was to follow was a heady, hearty, vodka-fuelled evening I simply hadn’t seen coming. In appearing at the requested hour, I found myself swept into a celebration dinner for the 18th birthday of the family’s eldest daughter. My hand was shaken vigorously, my seat pulled out for me. There were 12 of us sat around the table that night, and a noisy bunch we were: Lusine, the daughter in question; a convivial assortment of her nearest and dearest; and one bemused but delighted traveller.



The author was invited by the owners of the guesthouse to join a family celebration (Credit: Oleksandr Rupeta/Alamy)


The food came in huge portions. The lady that had welcomed me in was Lusine’s mother, and she took charge of affairs. Plates appeared piled high with lavash, the unleavened flatbread that forms the staple of the Armenian larder. There were aubergines and olives, fresh radishes and mounds of stringy cheese. Then came barbequed pork, and greens with garlic. At some point there was a bowl of chopped mushrooms fried with onions, and chicken in an unctuous, spicy sauce. The menu became something of a blur.

The reason for this was the oghi, or homemade fruit vodka. Our feast-bearing table was split by gender, with females at one end and males at the other. I gathered, thanks to the English spoken by the birthday girl, that I had an uncle either side of me. Both were jovial and thick-limbed, and took it as their duty to ensure that my shot glass was never dry for a second longer than necessary. Just as the food was brought out liberally, so too was the potent, berry-based firewater.

As the banquet roared on, the uncles insisted that our end of the table drink to everyone and everything. To Armenia. To the UK. To their families. To my family. To people long dead. To the future. To friendship. Some toasts left me clueless, but all went the same way – the chink of glasses, the tossed elbows, the warm throat-burn of alcohol. Soon there were songs, and cakes. I was dizzy with it all. The evening ended with bear hugs all round, and linguistically doomed attempts to declare everlasting kinship.



Ben Lerwill: “I was ushered into the festivities as naturally and lavishly as if I’d been one of their own” (Credit: V. Dorosz/Alamy)


When I left the next morning, tender-headed but filled with a bumper breakfast and more generous goodwill, my resolve to leave some money for the previous night’s meal received such stern refusal that I backed down for fear of causing insult. After being handed an address for a relative in southern Armenia – a contact I now deeply regret never following up – I was seen off with warmth, and wandered down to the marshrutka yard in a daze.

When you encounter hospitality in Armenia, you’re unlikely to forget it

Only then did the extent of the family’s welcome sink in. I was a complete stranger from a country thousands of miles away. I’d turned up at their gate, unannounced, unshaven and barely an hour before a landmark family dinner, yet I’d not just been granted a bed but been ushered into the festivities as naturally and lavishly as if I’d been one of their own. It stretched the definition of ‘guesthouse’ to improbable extremes.

Armenians, like their Caucasus neighbours, have long been renowned for generosity to outsiders. The country’s location on the historical trade networks of the Silk Road is integral to this. The region has seen the passage of countless thousands of merchants, soldiers, migrants and wayfarers. As long ago as 400BC, the Greek general Xenophon brought his troops this way and gave accounts of tables groaning with lamb, poultry and barley wine.



Armenian hospitality stems from the nation's historical location along the Silk Road (Credit: age fotostock/Alamy)


It should perhaps be pointed out that the three Caucasus nations – Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan – retain a healthy suspicion of each other. There’s a wry Armenian joke that sums it up. A boy asks his grandfather why Armenia hasn't yet sent an astronaut to space. “Because the Georgians would die of envy," the grandfather replies. "And if the Georgians died of envy, then we'd die of pleasure – and the Azeris would be left with all the land." Towards travellers and outsiders, however, local hospitality throughout the region is astonishingly generous.

Armenia has known unspeakable pain and hardship, not least in the form of the deportations and deaths of up to 1.5 million of its people between 1914 and 1923. Dozens of US states and 29 countries have recognised this as an act of genocide by the Ottoman Empire. Today’s Turkish state denies the description. Armenia’s national psyche has, inevitably, been shaped by the period. And in so doing, the notion that those who come in peace should be welcomed with open arms has only been strengthened.

I can say this much: when you encounter hospitality in Armenia, you’re unlikely to forget it.

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#91 gamavor


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Posted 09 October 2017 - 01:34 PM

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#92 Yervant1


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Posted 10 October 2017 - 09:18 AM

PanArmenian, Armenia
Oct 9 2017
Funny reasons for pretty women to avoid visiting Armenia: Travel journal

Russian travel journal Tonkosti.ru has published an article, detailing five funny reasons why beautiful women should avoid visiting Armenia.

They won't be kidnapped and taken to the mountains, the article points out, adding that Armenians are very respectful towards foreigners. However, it says, it is better for pretty girls to not take a trip to Yerevan.

1. Divine food is a threat to the figure. To say that Armenian food is tasty and abundant is to say nothing. They offer eight different dishes for breakfast alone, followed by khash, khorovats (barbecue) , lavash, 30 varieties of jam! In a word, you'll have to forget about your beautiful waist for a while.

2. Armenia has the world's most delicious pomegranate wine and brandy. Both are irresistible even if you have an iron will, or even if you do not drink alcohol at all (to keep the skin fresh). Anyway, you will try at least a sip and won't be able to stop.

3. The program is too busy. The locals will make spontaneous proposals for walks through Yerevan at night or mountain gorges. Armenians adore their country and want its beauty to captivate you.

4. Fatigue from compliments is quite a thing. "Bottomless eyes you can drown in" is a child's play compared to what you will hear from local men who know how to appreciate women's beauty.

5. A huge selection of inexpensive sweets which you can't find anywhere else. Alas, in the foothills of Ararat, you will have to say goodbye not only to your figure, but also to your money.


#93 Yervant1


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Posted 14 October 2017 - 11:01 AM

Correction! Britain did not recognize the Armenian Genocide yet, I wonder why? ;)

  Pan Armenian, Armenia

Oct 13 2017
10 amazing facts you might have missed about Armenia: Top Desat

26 years have passed since Armenia declared independence from the Soviet Union, and Slovakian media platform Top Desat offers 10 amazing facts about the country for those of you who have no idea what Armenia is.

1. Archaeologists claim to have discovered the oldest wine cellar on the planet in a cave near the Armenian village of Areni.

The Areni-1 winery is a 6100-year-old winery wherea large, well-preserved 60-centimeter deep vat, along with a one meter long basin made of clay and covered with malvidin was unearthed.






2.Christianity spread in the then Armenian kingdom shortly after the death of Jesus, though it took until the beginning of the 4th century when the kingdom adopted it as a state religion.




3.Since its independence from the Soviet Union, Armenia has proven itself as a world leader in chess: the national team won the European Championships in Cooperatives (1999), the The Chess World Cup 2011, the Chess Olympics (2006, 2008, 2012), and the European Championship (2003).

4.In 1915, the Ottoman Empire launched the systematic extermination of 1.5 million Armenians, known as the Armenian Genocide. Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, denies it is genocide, but the governments of some three dozen countries - including Britain, Russia and France - recognize these events as genocide.




5.The Genocide of 1915 forced millions of Armenians to flee abroad to establish strong communities, especially in the U.S., Russia and France. It is estimated that some 6 million people of Armenian descent live abroad, twice as much as the population of Armenia (3 million).

6.In Armenia, there is widespread belief that the Noah's Ark ended up landing on Mount Ararat following the Genesis flood. Though the ark has never been found, it is nonetheless featured on the Armenian coat of arms.

7.The Armenian capital, Yerevan, is one of the world's oldest inhabited settlements, built around 29 years earlier than Rome. The city overlooking the snow-covered peak of Mount Ararat has an incredible number of historic buildings, not to mention the excellent museums. Yerevan is often referred to as the "pink city" for the amazing pink hew of volcanic rock, which was used to build many buildings.

8.According to the Guinness Book of Records, Wings of Tatev is the longest aerial tramway ever, which connects the village of Halidzor with the Tatev Monastery and offers a magnificent view of the Vorotan gorge.




9. Relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan deteriorated since the conflict in Nagorno Karabakh erupted.

10.Many Armenians were delighted to hear about the tremendous Shakira incident during a concert in neighboring Azerbaijan, where the Colombian singer came out to the podium, carrying her national flag upside down, basically turning it into an Armenian flag.





#94 Yervant1


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Posted 10 November 2017 - 09:21 AM

Pan Armenian, Armenia
Nov 9 2017
November 9, 2017 - 15:57 AMT
6 reasons to pack your bags for Armenia: Easyvoyage

Some countries with splendid landscapes and remarkable cultural heritage are strangely absent from brochures of major tour operators, and Armenia is one of them, says the French edition of Easyvoyage - a travel deal comparator and a magazine - in a recent article, providing six reasons to visit Armenia.

“The country is home to sumptuous mountain scenery, beautiful lakes, world-class archaeological sites, and remarkable historical and religious heritage, with delicious food and friendly people,” the article says.

Mount Ararat, symbol of Armenia

The mythical Mount Ararat is the national symbol of Armenia (5,165 meters above sea level), and yet it’s located in neighboring Turkey. However, the best spot to admire the perfect silhouette from is in Armenia, while the view of Ararat from Khor Virap Monastery offers a postcard scene.




Noah's Ark landed on Mount Ararat

The snow-capped volcano was once on the territory of historic Armenia, and it was this exact mountain that Noah's Ark is set to have landed on.

The Temple of Garni

One of Armenia's cultural treasures, a must-see for any visitor, is the 2000-year-old Temple of Garni. Located on the banks of the Azat River, it used to house the summer residence of Armenian kings.

Armenian churches in a breathtaking natural settings




The small country in the Caucasus, landlocked between Georgia to the north, Turkey to the west, Iran to the south and Azerbaijan to the east, really deserves a lot of attention. The cultural and religious heritage of Armenia is remarkable. The first country to have formally adopted Christianity as a state religion in 301 is home to very old religious structures. It is not unusual to see churches and monasteries dating from the 7th and 8th centuries.

Lake Sevan




In the east of the country, Lake Sevan, nicknamed the Pearl of Armenia, is nestled at a 2,000m altitude. The numerous churches and monasteries dating back to medieval times make this place even more splendid. Also, it is the largest lake in Armenia and one of the biggest in the whole world. This magical and mysterious spot is a must-see for a trip to this mountainous country.

Yerevan, the capital




With a history going back three thousand years, Yerevan is home to almost half of the country's population. Perched 900 meters above sea level, it is dominated by the impressive silhouette of Mount Ararat. Today, its architecture dates mainly from the Soviet era, more precisely from the 1930s. The Matenadaran - one of the richest manuscript deposits in the world, some dating back thousands of years - is a must see, as are the Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral, the National History Museum and the Armenian Genocide memorial.


#95 Yervant1


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Posted 17 November 2017 - 04:41 PM

Los Angeles Times
Nov 16 2017
First trip to Republic of Armenia ‘thought-provoking and fulfilling’
Laura Friedman

Last month I was fortunate enough to visit the Republic of Armenia, the motherland of more than 100,000 of my constituents. In fact, one of the largest Armenian populations outside of Armenia currently resides in the greater Los Angeles area, making this trip all the more significant.

As a former Glendale City Council member and mayor, I attended many events that celebrated the culture and traditions of the Armenian people. With their love of life, family, history, art and music, I was always intrigued and found myself wishing I could visit the place that so many of my constituents, their families, and thousands more in the Los Angeles region call home. So, on Oct. 3 I made my way to the airport and joined a delegation of my colleagues, including Assembly members Adrin Nazarian, Marc Levine, Dante Acosta and state Sen. Scott Wilk. After a 20-hour flight, I took my first steps on Armenian soil.


The first leg of our trip included a tour of Yerevan, the marvelous capital of Armenia. One of my favorite parts of the tour was visiting Cascade. Located in the heart of Yerevan, the beautiful staircase of Cascade led us to the most striking view of the city below. We then visited the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies, a hub created for teens eager to learn about animation, filmmaking, web design and game development, including photography and other programs — all free of charge for students.

We met with many high-ranking officials within the Armenian government, including the deputy prime minister of Armenia, Vache Gabrielyan; Ara Babloyan, speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia; Vice Chairman Arpine Hovhannisyan; Defense Minister Vigen Sargsyan and the president of the Republic of Artsakh, Bako Sahakyan, along with many other officials.


The delegation also visited the Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex (Tsitsernakaberd) in Yerevan, a breathtaking memorial built in 1967 and dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide, a place where hundreds of thousands of people visit annually to lay flowers and pay their respects to the fallen victims. The memorial is comprised of 12 slabs, arranged in a circle, representing the 12 provinces that were lost and are now part of the Republic of Turkey. An eternal flame burns at the center of the memorial, symbolizing the 1.5 million victims. While in Yerevan, we also visited the Jewish Holocaust Memorial, a great symbol of the relationship between Jews and Armenians and the ancestral struggles both have experienced.

Our delegation was then taken to see from a distance Mount Ararat. Since 1921, Mount Ararat has unrightfully been part of modern-day Turkey, which is why we weren’t able to get close to the area. However, I was able to see the snow-capped peaks and was awestruck by their magnificence. With its rich symbolism, Mount Ararat is considered the “Holy Mountain” where Noah’s Ark landed and has also been on Armenia’s national Coat of Arms since 1918.

We spent the last leg of our trip in the Republic of Artsakh; the journey there was an adventurous one to say the least. A historically Armenian land, in July 1921 the region of Artsakh was set in Soviet Azerbaijan, a decision made solely by Joseph Stalin. Currently Artsakh is heavily populated by Armenians, and the Armenian military has been aiding the country against Azerbaijani aggression, often causing Armenian militia and civilian casualties. For years, Armenians in Armenia and the diaspora have seen the consequences of conflict between the Republic of Artsakh and Azerbaijan. The strength of the relationship between Armenians in Armenia and in Artsakh has been vital in keeping Artsakh Armenian. I was fortunate to be able to visit Artsakh, and like so many before me, I’m proud to wear the threat of being blacklisted from Azerbaijan as a badge of honor. Our trip to Artsakh included a meeting with President Sahakyan in the city of Shushi, a visit to the Ghazanchetsots Cathedral, in all of its astonishing beauty, and a stop at the famous “We are our Mountains” monument also known as “Mamik yev Babik” (“Grandma and Grandpa”). The monument features an elderly couple with only their heads visible and their bodies in the soil, symbolizing the deep-rootedness of Armenians in Artsakh.

My trip to Armenia was fascinating, thought-provoking and fulfilling. Like so many incredible trips, it was over all too soon. We ate delicious foods, explored beautiful sights, learned about the deep-rooted history of Armenia. Still, the highlight of my trip was when I saw Mount Ararat, and visited the Republic Artsakh. However brief, my time spent in Armenia made real for me the deep connection between the Armenian people and their ancestral homeland. Their culture is thousands of years old, and that history is evident in every ancient church and in the fabric of every city. While outside threats may attempt to erase and deny that history, they will never be able to wipe out that legacy, as it permeates everything. To be granted the opportunity to visit the homeland of so many of my constituents and their ancestors is a gift that I will forever cherish.

LAURA FRIEDMAN (D-Glendale) represents La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, Glendale, Burbank and neighboring communities in the the 43rd Assembly District.


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