Feb 19, 2021
7 mins read
Armenia, Feb, 2019
From picturesque snowcapped mountains, historical churches, architectural sites, and to the sweetest wine and lovely people, Armenia gave me that nostalgic feeling of a place I've never been to. It was love at first sight! As a Filipino working in Dubai, I found Armenia as the closest and most affordable place you can experience that European vibe with a country feels on it. Plus, the snow! Oh, it was a childhood dream of mine to get to see and touch real snow!
1. Charent's Arc
Located conveniently along the way to Garni Temple. This small arch is a MUST-SEE for tourists! It’s like a gateway that opens to a breath-taking view of the snowcapped Mount Ararat! On the arch, you can find the following lines, written by Eghishe Charents: “Pass the whole world with its mountains white, to the beauty of Masis equals none!” Most Travel Agencies do not include this place in their itinerary so you won't find it crowded at all.
2. Garni Temple
One of the most famous tourist destinations in Armenia. I'm pretty sure everybody has this on their list! This could pass as a marvel movie poster, eh? Most tour operators come here around 9 am-2 pm, if you want to avoid the crowd, visit in the late afternoon as we did! Check out our photos! It's like we rented the place!
3. Gerghard Monastery
The third stop of the day is a UNESCO World Heritage medieval monastery, partially carved out of the adjacent mountain, surrounded by cliffs. The monastery complex is huge and has some super nice instagrammable spots so make sure you take your time and roam around. But also note, some locals still visit the monastery to offer prayers so mind your manners and respect churchgoers.
4. Mother Armenia statue at Victory Park
The last stop for the day has the most beautiful panoramic view of Yerevan City and Mt. Ararat. A theme park is right next to the monument which you can visit with children. Or come during sunset and stay up to dark to see locals gather up at the open fireplace in the middle of the park. The statue itself is also a museum but it was closed during our visit.
1. Areni Winery
One of Armenia’s main attraction, Areni winery offers a wide range of vintage wines. As we expected, we were the first to visit the place and enjoyed the VIP-like tour of the shop and the wine cellar. There's also free wine tasting for all guests but I advise you to buy a bottle or two so you can enjoy some wine time back home! Tip! There is a coffee/dining shop upstairs with all types of vintage arts and instruments like piano and guitar which are free to use. But please handle with care.
2. Noravank Monastery
This 13th century, two-storey monastery perched high on a mountain is one of the most admired places in Armenia due to its beautiful settings. There are mountain goats roaming the gorge so better ask your guide to bring a telescope and enjoy finding them.
3. Areni - 1 Bird cave
This is where the oldest winery, oldest leather shoe, and oldest brain known in the world were found. The local guide will tour you around the narrow cave alley and will show you some artifacts which are pretty cool. Real bats live here so if you're not a fan, better watch out for that dark knight! Haha! Must do! After you're cave visit, you can walk and take some snaps in the middle of the road with the tall, red bricks of the cliffs as your background. It's not a busy road but be cautious still!
4. Wings of Tatev
A Guinness World record holder for the longest aerial ropeway., Wings of Tatev is my second fave of the whole trip. We really enjoyed the breathtaking scenery. According to a local legend, Tatev is interpreted from Liturgical Armenian as “Let the Holy Spirit give me the wings”.
5. Tatev Monastery
Set on a mountain plateau, Tatev Monastery is a must-visit for nature and architecture lovers. It's also an active monastery up to date so make sure to pay respect to the monks and church locals. Go around the backside of the monastery and you'll find this nice photo spot.
6. Devil's Bridge
Down the Tatever (Wings of Tatev), you'll pass by this natural bridge formed by travertine of mineral springs. We were told this place is a famous family destination during summer and spring as locals love to take a hike or swim in the river.
7. Viewpoint Tower (Tatev)
Spotted this tower while driving down the mountains of Tatev, stories said that it was used as a viewing tower to spot enemies and send signals to Tatev Monastery. Not in our itinerary list, but our good guy, Armen, let me trek towards it, handed me his telescope and I was really really in love with the view!!! This is actually my most fave from our Armenia trip! Standing there, I felt like I was dragged into the Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings universe! Prenup settings? Definitely! Be mindful of the cliff! Time to end the day with a delicious dinner and a sweet wine we bought from Areni Winery.
1. Tsaghkadzor Ski Resort
Don't know how to ski? Me too. Haha. But I find Tsaghkadzor Ski Resort still a must-visit for its cable car ride. Unlike close cabin cable in Tatev, this one is a 2-seater open-air car ride which makes it a bit more thrilling and chilling. Snow is everywhere!!!
2. Lake Sevan and Sevanavank
The largest body of water in Armenia, Lake Sevan is one enchanting place to visit during winter. With snow covering the lake and the mountains in front of it, it's really a wonderland. Trek up the staircase and you'll see Sevanavank Monastery sitting up the hill, overlooking the lake. There is a sweet old lady selling souvenirs up the hill. Try buying something from her and if you’re in luck, she'll give you some freebie! :)
3. Old Dilijan Complex
You'd feel like traveling back in time in this little hotel/complex in Old Dilijan. A recreation of the typical 19th-century house in Dilijan town, this place is home to handicraft arts. You can roam around the complex, take some nice Instagram snaps, or visit one of the handicraft artists and watch him make a beautiful piece of wood souvenir.
4. Abandoned Cable Car Station (Haghartsin)
Before heading straight to the monastery, our guide detoured us at the abandoned cable car station to see a panoramic view of the forest.
5. Haghartsin Monastery (Forest)
In 2011, this Monastery was restored and underwent major renovation with a fund denoted by the Ruler of Sharjah. There is a Bear statue along the way, look out for it!
6. Yerevan Cascade
Our tour for the day ended back at Yerevan City. It's our last night, so we make the most of it and explored the city center on foot starting from Yerevan Cascade. After exploring the cascade stepwell, visit the art exhibits inside the complex. There’s an escalator as well to help you go up and down easier.
6. Aram Khachatryan Concert Hall
Our plan was to walk our way to Republic Square but we found ourselves sitting on the front row of Aram Khachatryan concert hall. Haha. Curious as to why people gathered up there, we found out that there is a classical concert going on, and we’re delighted to know that entry was absolutely FREE!
7. Swan Lakeskating rink in downtown Yerevan
We visited, we watched but we didn't try. Still, a nice place to just hang out, good for family and friends. Cute little Armenian girl learning to skate.
8. Local Bar
During travels, we always make sure to spend a night partying with the locals. And we are happy to tell you that Armenians are fun people and their dance moves are so mesmerizing to watch. Cheers for cheap beers!!
DAY 4 Half Day
1. Ejmiatsin Cathedral
It is said to be the oldest Christian temple in Armenia, and one of the first in the entire world. This place has a very intricate and interesting paintings on its wall and ceilings with some great stories and meanings behind it.
2. Zvartnots Cathedral
Snowing and raining, a perfect way to end our Armenia trip, Zvartnots Cathedral had me more fascinated with ruins and ancient stuff. Tip! There is also a museum next to it, which opens around 9 or 10 am.
Come visit Armenia, you're gonna love it! A must watch cinematic video of this trip is available on YouTube in this link