Armenia: Alaverdi, Dilijan, Areni, Goris and Etchmiadzin
Travelling on our own to all corners of Armenia was definitely a great experience.
From a cultural point of view, we did stop 25 times to visit monasteries, churches and historical sites.
Our 3 favorites were:
- Noravank, on a hill at the end of its canyon, it really had a Grand Canyon feel
- Marmashen, at the bottom of a lushy green valley, a very peaceful atmosphere and a great site for a picnic.
- The Noratus Cemetery, a field of Khachkars, close to Lake Sevan, strolling amongst the cross-stones and their unique carvings let us see one of Armenia’s identities.
From a human point of view, the last 10 days were absolutely fantastic! We met Olga, Irina & Stepan in Alaverdi, Davit and his sisters in Areni, Arthur, Sonna and their lovely children in Etchmiadzin. We had a great time with all of them including the best local and fresh meals we had so far.
If you are around instead of taking day tours from Yerevan, you really should rent a car to explore the country and spend time with people in the different provinces.
we did specifically enjoy
- The Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin, we had a guided tour by Anna & Anoush, 2 young adults from the Alaverdi English Club (see Best Kept Secret Tip section for details).
- Goshavank, another Monastery, we were welcomed by a young priest who saw us looking for frescoes and carvings described in the Bradt guide. Unfortunately he could only speak a few words of english but one of his friend was there and helped with the translation calling another friend on his mobile! The visit took quite some time and we were moved by the priest trying to pass on his passion for his church.
- Iris B&B in Alaverdi, the best homestay in the Lori region. We even got interviewed by the Armenian TV during our stay. They were filming a documentary about the B&B in the country.
- Areni Wine Art in Areni, Davit and his family are doing huge efforts to drag tourists in the village. They organize hiking trips, organic meals including traditional Armenian barbeque in the “tonir“, dancing and cooking lessons or anything you would request from them.
- Artson B&B in Etchmiadzin, Arthur and Sonna’s goal is to make you feel at home and they’re pretty good at it! All the family is eager to exchange with you about the country, travelling and Armenian history. You may be lucky enough to attend a private concert given by their 2nd daughter, Hasmik, who is studying vocal art in College.
As stated before do not even bother looking for restaurants while in homestays. All of them will gladly prepare you fresh local food at unbeatable fares.
Best Kept Secret Tip
The English Club in Alaverdi, is a NGO trying to improve the economic situation teaching english to anyone interested in the village. They are really doing a great job and we liked very much spending some time with its members. They are arranging day hikes and several guided tours to the historical sites of the province. We enjoyed the guided tours at Sanahin and Haghpat very much. The young guides gave us insights about the local history that a common guide book would never tell. Do not hesitate to contact them when in the region to get your private guided tour!
To all the English Club Members, thank you so much for your warm welcome during our visit to the Club, keep up the good work and hope to come back soon!