I had decided to come to Yerevan to get the rich cultural experience and see the surrounding natural beauty (the flight to NYC was cheaper from Yerevan than Tbilisi). Upon entering Armenia, it was incredibly snowy, and it only got snowier throughout the week. So, I opted to just stay in the city center rather than venture out on treacherous, freezing day trips.
Yerevan is a bit of a bubble compared to the rest of Armenia. It had a very manufactured city center, which was actually kind of nice in a certain sense. It was a bit square rather than a long thoroughfare like Tbilisi, which made it easier to access everything. I stayed in a hostel that was the favorite landing ground of Peace Corp volunteers, which also made it nice getting to hear about their experience and talking to a rotation of Americans the last week before they flew home for the holidays.
I stayed pretty close to the Cascade, which is a steep ascent to a nice overlook of the city. There are a couple art museums in it, and the accompanying park at the bottom has a lot of weird statues. You can kind of see the large woman and the weird bright blue thing on the left. And there’s always a soldier guarding them, for some reason.
I walked up, and it isn’t finished yet. So here’s the unfinished abyss along with a scenic crane.
Yerevan was pretty, but it could old a bit quickly. Pretty small city, and only so many coffee shops that I could visit. Still, there were a couple good ones:
The Green Bean – Two good locations, one near the Cascade and one near Republic Square. They don’t mind if you work and chill for a while, and they have a good selection of food and coffee. They even do flat whites, which really sold me on them.
Crumbs – A bakery and coffee shop that served great breakfasts (which I had so been missing in Georgia) and coffee. Great place to hang out (especially during off-hours) and get some work done.
Achajour Natural Food – This was like a block away from where I was staying, and it was always full of people working or studying. That made it a perfect place for me to hang out in the evenings, and they had a veggie sandwich for about $3.
I did a museum each day during the week, because I’m an adult and it’s the right thing to do. I started with The Matenadaran, which is a museum with a collection of manuscripts and garments. Basically a bunch of old looking books. I couldn’t read any of them, but they were pretty to look at.
Republic Square is the main square in Yerevan. It’s massive, with big oldish looking buildings and what I hear are lovely fountains when it isn’t freezing cold out.
The History Museum of Armenia was right on Republic Square, but they did not allow pictures inside. I forgot what was in there. History I think. Lots of old pots. Some tusks. Old jewelry. Rock carvings. But mostly old pots.
Not far from the hostel was Dargett, a craft brewery and restaurant. All the Peace Corp volunteers wanted to go there after arriving, so I ended up going like four times over the course of 10 days. Their vegetarian option was vetetable carbonara, so I’ve had enough of that to last me for a while. It’s a really nice “modern” looking brewery/restaurant that have popped up everywhere in the states.
I also went to an Indian place and a Mexican place and an Armenian place. The Armenian food was good, but I remember there being a lot of pesto in it. It didn’t really excite me like the Georgian food, but I didn’t give it too much of a chance.
I also went to the Armenian Genocide memorial complex (which of course is still not recognized by the United States). As you might expect, it’s a pretty sad museum. Pictures weren’t allowed inside the actual museum, but I did take a couple pictures of the eternal flame memorial. The museum was really well done.
This is the Sports Complex. I accidentally walked here first instead of the Genocide museum. But it looked cool so I took a picture to justify walking here in the cold.
It was snowing during the 4km walk each way to the museum, so my beard icicled over and terrified the museum person. I think she thought I was an ice age person recently unfrozen.
On the way back, I stopped at the Ararat brandy store to take a look around and do some souvenir shopping.
It was too snowy and foggy most of the week to actually see Mount Ararat.
Also worth mentioning is the Vernisagge, which is a park in the city with a massive market in it. They were selling some cool looking chess boards, socks, soviet relics, shirts, kitchen stuff, desk accessories, hand-made bags – pretty much anything you could imagine. It’s supposed to be a lot busier during the summers, but it’s still a nice walk-through.
I left the hostel at 4:30am to the airport, then flew from Yerevan to Kiev to NYC. After an uncomfortable 19 hours and 30 minutes on planes and over 25 hours without eating (they didn’t have vegetarian meals on the plane) I arrived in NYC. I wandered from my hotel in midtown up to central park and through Times Square, checked out some Christmas displays and the next day took the train back to Rochester. Trip complete!