Change Yourself…Change The World.


Land ho Armenia!
May 7, 2009, 8:25 am
Filed under: Armenia, Pictures Post

Paradise

Beautiful.

Well yesterday was another amazing day in Armenia. I went on a tour of St. Echmiadzin, Khor Virap, and Noravank- we visited three different regions in Armenia (The Ararat Region, The Armavir Region, and Vayots Dzor- all BEAUTIFUL places) and saw some absolutely stunning sights. Truthfully, (and I’m not just saying this because it’s the motherland) Armenia is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. I’m shocked that it hasn’t boomed as a huge tourist destination, though I’m sure it will sometime in the next twenty years or so. But that means that I get to see all of the beautiful sights without anyone in my way. I have never seen a place so open and free- I mean, if India has an overpopulation problem, they should just ship ’em all over here- there’s empty plains as far as the eye can see.

Culturally, it’s been an intense experience for me. I don’t feel like this is my culture. I’ve been ashamed that I’m Armenian and only know a few words of the language. But according to my Armenian tour guide, Gevorg (English name: George), it doesn’t matter whether I speak Armenian or not. I am still viewed as a tourist. That’s been a hard pill to swallow also; that I am just as much of a tourist as a Russian, or a Yugoslavian, or a German tourist hanging out in the hostel. One thing that I really feel strongly as a Diasporan Armenian is this sense of unique specialness being an Armenian- when you meet another one in other parts of the world, it’s this great discovery. You look at one another and you think we are both Armenian! And you smile and clasp hands and secretly make a blood-brother pact that you have each other’s backs. It’s a feeling I get whenever I meet another Armenian- that knowing smile that passes between us, and that sense of pride that flares up in both of our hearts.

But in Armenia this is not the case. When I proudly say to other Armenians ‘You’re Armenian? I am Armenian.’ They just kind of nod and smile, as if I am saying ‘I am a tourist.’ I can’t say that hasn’t been disappointing, although I was warned this is the kind of treatment Diasporan Armenians recieve. The hardest thing I’ve had to deal with is seeing that in so many ways I don’t connect with this culture, because I don’t understand it. It’s like I may as well be in Thailand learning about the Thai people- that’s how much of a disconnect there is.

But I can’t let this get me down, partly because I am a fourth generation removed, and partly because I love studying and learning about new cultures anyway, so it’s been that much more of an interesting experience. Yesterday I learned, most importantly, that Armenians love Russia, and ties between both countries are very strong. Many Armenians go to Russia to find work, because the unemployment rate in Armenia is incredibly high. Armenians are very conservative and dogmatic; it takes centuries to change their minds on something (for example, Christianity, anyone? Armenians have refused to convert to Islam for nearly two thousand years, and they have greatly suffered for it through history. Just shows how stubborn we all are). It’s actually quite offensive to ask an Armenian if they’re Christian- you should automatically assume that they all are. Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity (301 A.D.) and they definitely shout it from the rooftops.

The majority of the tours we did were of ancient churches, some of them the oldest in the world. The tour yesterday was fantastic. I learned a whole slew of Armenian jokes thanks to my Armenian tour guide Gayvorg, ate a traditional Armenian lunch, saw a large portion of the motherland, and learned quite a few words and phrases. I also met one Armenian family who were happy that I was an Armenian Diaspora visiting the homeland (I suppose partly because they have an Armenian sister in San Francisco).

Every day here is an amazing experience. If you’re a fellow Armenian and you’d like to make a trip here someday, here is an amazing website Gevorg showed me: http://www.birthrightarmenia.org/

I took about 500 pictures yesterday, and I weeded through all of them to pick out the best pictures. Enjoy fellow Armenians/friends! Today is a rest day in Yerevan, tomorrow I am planning on going into an Armenian village, and on Friday I leave for Dilijan, a beautiful village in the Lori Region.

Pictures from Armenia

Hripsime Monastery, a UNESCO sight church, built in the 6th century.

Inside Hripsime Monastery.

St. Echmiadzin, Church built in the 17th century

Inside St. Echmiadzin

Christianity is key in Armenia- St. Echmiadzin.

You will find these in every Armenian church- a basin to hold
these candles.

A grave outside of St. Echmiadzin.

St. Echmiadzin- Built for St. Gregory the Illuminator, the founder
of the Armenian church. This place is kind of like…priest city.
Gevorg says that being a priest is a very profitable career in Armenia.

Armenia, 1971. I love how dated things are here.

Gayane Monastery, built 632 A.D.

Gayane Monastery

Gayane Monastery

Me in front of Khor Virap (‘Deep Hole’ in Armenian). It is a
monastery and jail. Behind Khor Virap is Mount Ararat, the most
holy mountain for Armenians (it is said in bible lore that the first
Armenian, Hayk, was the great-great-great grandson of Noah).
Supposedly Noah’s ark landed on Mount Ararat. Unfortunately,
Mount Ararat is in Turkey (we’re right on the border of Turkey
and Armenia).

Inside Khor Virap- this leads down to the prison where St.
Gregory the Illuminator spent 13 years confined.

Khor Virap prison.

Khor Virap prison.

Let’s hang out here for 13 years- sweet.

Khor Virap Monastery.

A view of Armenia from Khor Virap.

The Motherland.

Some kind of Armenian name written in stones.

Khor Virap Monastery.

Armenia

Brittany Boroian in Armenia May 6th, 2009.

Khor Virap

Excavation Site- right next to Khor Virap. In the 1970’s, a bunch
of archaelogists came to this site to do a dig. For some reason
they left after a few years and never came back. Gayvorg thinks
this is a shame because many Armenians dig only a few meters
into the ground and find all kinds of copper, silver, and gold pieces.

Armenian grave yard- near Khor Virap

Armenia excavation site.

Armenia excavation site.

This is part of the first ancient city of Armenia- dates back
thousands of years ago.

Our bus driver is also an archaeologist. While we were walking
around he found all of this old pottery.

Part of the first ancient city in Armenia

Beautiful Armenia.

Khor Virap- in the distance is Mount Ararat
(though it’s mostly shrouded by clouds).

Armenia

A close up view of Mount Ararat- it is Armenia’s biggest dream
to have it be part of Armenia again- in Turkey, Armenians are
not allowed to climb Mount Ararat.

Pokr Vedi- a small Armenian village.

This is what a typical Armenian house looks like.

….This is what a typical Armenian house looks like.

Lunch with a local Armenian artist and his family- DELICIOUS
food- all kinds of vegetables, meat, cheese and potatoes.

Apparently an Armenian meal isn’t complete without at least
six shots of vodka. Yes, this is a glass of straight vodka next to my
chaser, homemade apricot juice. Armenians love to drink.

This is an Armenian cake called Roulette (like the casino game)
Gevorg: Brittany, if you want to be an Armenian girl you MUST
learn to bake this cake. (apparently all Armenian girls make
this all of the time)

Haroot Arakelian’s paintings, a local Armenian artist.

Astrich, Armine, and Haroot Arakelian- a very nice Armenian
family. They were excited that I was Armenian and they said
I could stay at their house any time.

The Vayats Dzor Region

The motherlaaannddd!

Some of the most gorgeous views I’ve ever seen.

Armenia

Noravank Monastery

Noravank Monastery

View of the mountains from Noravank Monastery

Noravank Monastery


Apparently this is what God looks like.

In ancient times Armenians liked to lay graves in front of the
monastery door- it was a sign of respect.

Armenian wine cellar

Areni Wine- Armenian wine! Let me tell you a thing about
Armenian wine tastings. It’s not so much of a ‘tasting’ as a
‘let’s get you good and drunk.’ My six different wine ‘tastings’
were basically six full glasses of wine.

Armenia

So beautiful

Yel Pin Village

Armenia

Mount Ararat

Mount Ararat

Our car stopped in the road while a herd of sheep flocked by.
I love Armenia.

Both of the mountains are constituted as Mount Ararat,
but the one of the left is the most famous one.

The sun shines down on Armenia.


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Love the pictures, love the commentary, and especially loved seeing your face a few times my darling girl. XOXOXOXOXO Mama

Comment by Bonnie Boroian

I have been to Armenia lately the capital city was great but had problems in Dilijan at Dili Villa hostel, which operats under the website http://www.dilitours.de
Friends be away from this hotel as this hotel seem to be a cheater! The staff is lousy and housekeeping terribly shoddy. To top it all, they are a bunch of thieves. On the last day of our stay, those lousy people stole my mobile while keeping the door keys with them in the name of room cleaning. On complaining, the management was not even bothered neither were they disturbed that such an incident took place. If anybody is planning their holiday at this hotel, they better be careful.
In general, the experience at Dili Villa B&B was not consistent with the website description, or the rating as a three-starHotel. I highly recomend staying somewhere else in Dilijan. This is not my first time staying Dilijan, but it will be last with Dili Villa B&B.
I just also saw the lately made reviews on Virtual tourist, you can find them at http://www.virtualtourist.com/hotels/Middle_East/Armenia/Kaghak_Ijevan/Dilijan-1710379/Hotels_and_Accommodations-Dilijan-TG-C-1.html
I wish I saw these reviews before I traveled !!!

Comment by Johan Schimd

excellent submit, very informative. I wonder why the other experts of
this sector do not realize this. You must proceed
your writing. I’m sure, you have a huge readers’ base already!

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