June 29, 2011

A Tourist in Armenia

For the past week I have been in Armenia. Armenia is one of the first countries to get out of the grip of the Soviet Union in the early 90's. Macadamian has had an office in Yerevan for just about four years now. Yerevan is the capital of Armenia. I've been to Armenia four or five times including this time around. I always look forward to visiting our offices and this time for my visit in Yerevan I decided to make a weekend out of it!

What about Armenia?

Now on with my great tourist experience. I was lucky that we have someone in our office who used to be a full-time guide before getting on with computer sciences. I had my personal guide with me all along who could tell me everything there was to know about the scenery, the squares and the monuments. I had a great weekend planned. I have summed things up below on what I had the opportunity to see.

We started at Cascade. As the picture shows, it's a big building built along the mountain landscape and serves as stairs to go up the mountain. There is also a building with exhibits on rotation there.

Next stop was Matenadaran , the museum where ancient manuscript are kept. This is, if I'm not mistaken, the largest repository of ancient manuscripts. They have about 17,000 manuscripts dating from the fifth century. In other words, stuff that was written a long time ago on the skin of a veal; that must have been a very good meal! Nothing was lost back in the day. For me coming from Canada where the oldest buildings or artifacts date back to the 16th century, it's mind blowing to be speaking of and looking at things that are from the 5th century.

Garni - pagan temple. The first settlements in that area date back to around 1st century. The area was strategic for building fortress type structures because it was easily defensible. When the king of Armenia declared Christianity as the official religion, the pagan temples were destroyed. Garni is still around today and offers a magnificent view of Armenia's landscape. I was really surprised to see such mountainous terrain. I have seen pictures, but pictures are pictures - you have to see it for yourself to really appreciate it!

Geghard Monastery - monastery carved in stone. Dude, here is a hill; let's just carve a church into it. There are things that are man-made that I saw and my first reaction was "How did they do this? It must have taken so long". Well even back then there were death march projects. If you ask me this must have been on of them. Talk about labour. Well someone back then had a vision and made it happen. From the minute you step into the church you see it's beautiful and it's very impressive. It makes you realize to what lengths some people will go to show their convictions and realize their vision. The chapel was built in 1215 and the monastery was founded in the 4th century.

Tsaghkadzor - ski resort. Well there was no skiing there last weekend but there was still snow on the highest peak. We took a chairlift ride up the mountain to enjoy the view and fresh air.

Lake Sevan - again the very impressive scenery of Armenia at Lake Sevan. It's the largest lake in Armenia. The story goes that the lake was 95 meters deep before human intervention seriously altered the ecosystem. It went from 1360 sq km down to 930 sq km over a period of 50 years. From what I understand they have plugged the hole and the water level is coming back up. The water coming back up is causing other issues with buildings that were built too close to the shore. Nevertheless the scenery is fantastic; life is grand!

All in All

Thanks to my guide, Aram, and thanks to the people who joined me on the two days to show me around. Thanks to the Macadamian crew in Yerevan for a very warm welcome.
I got the opportunity to experience Armenia in a way I never had before. It was really good to tour outside of the city. Yerevan is a beautiful city, especially in the summer; it's green and full of life. Outside of the city, it is equally beautiful, rich in history and the scenery is spectacular.
I had a great time - thank you All!


AramK said...

We are glad you enjoyed it :) Witing for new visits!

bergdj said...

Maudit chanceux.

Tony said...

This is awesome. Gave me some idea's for my visit in October, I just hope the weather is as nice!

Frederic Boulanger said...

@Tony, glad you liked it, yes for sure some good sight seeing in store for you!

@bergdj c'est loin et ça vaut la peine! à la prochaine!

Jessica Gatto said...

Thanks for acknowledging my point Tourist. I would just add a caution about labels such as "tourist" and "traveler", mainly because that's just what they are labels. They also have a way of sounding elitist. We are not all the same, some tourist get a lot out of their trip and some travelers are just bums and could care less about the culture. As you did say ... its the "mindset" that counts. Not the label you give yourse