Just back from… Armenia

I spent a week travelling in Armenia this month, and have added a post to the ‘Just back from…’ section of Wanderlust travel magazine’s website. It is copied below, but can also be read here.

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JUST BACK FROM… ARMENIA

– How long were you there for?

Six days, in April 2015.

– What was the single highlight of your trip?

The journey between Yerevan and Tatev, in the south of Armenia close to Iran, was mesmerising. The road passes over gorgeous mountains, and the places I stopped at along the way – Khor Virap and Noravank monasteries; the towns of Yeraskh and Vayk; the Zorats Karer stone circle – all inspired me.

– Any lowlights/cautionary tales?

I really didn’t have any negative experiences or impressions during my trip. Armenia is a safe country – even Nagorno-Karabakh is safe to go to if you plan carefully – and people are welcoming. The border with Azerbaijan in the east is closed and unsafe though, so areas near to it should be avoided.

– Any absolutely MUST see sights/activities?

Khor Virap monastery, 30km west of Yerevan on the border with Turkey, for the vivid and important story behind it – and the beautiful sight of Mount Ararat looming over the church. In Yerevan, the Sargis Muradyan gallery (on Isahakyan street, near to ‘Cascade’) is a great place to spend a free hour.

– Any absolutely DON’T see sights/activities?

Lake Sevan is a favourite holiday spot for Armenians, but you will miss out on more exciting places if you plan your itinerary around it. If you travel north of Yerevan, you could spend a couple of hours at Sevan, but find time to visit Tsaghkadzor spa town, Dilijan and Goshavank monastery too…

– If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?

If you’re travelling as part of a tour, choose a guide that speaks your language (or go with Armenian friends). To understand Armenia you need to know its history: the experience won’t be the same if you don’t have anyone to tell it to you. Also: try the coffee and lavash bread at every opportunity!

– I wish I’d known…?

…that there isn’t always a wonderful view of Mount Ararat from the top of Yerevan’s ‘Cascade’: you have to wait for a clear day – and for the sun to be in the right place – to catch the iconic view over the city. 572 steps is a long way to climb to find out that the mountain is hidden under clouds!

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