Saying goodbye to Armenia

Armenia has come to mean a lot to me. For the places and conversations that will stay with me forever, I have two people to thank.

My first time in Yerevan was in April 2015 – the centenary of the beginning of the Armenian Genocide. I had met an Armenian lady at an event in London the year before, and she invited me to the commemorations.

Yerevan ArmeniaYerevan Armenia

The lady, Nellie, owns a tour company, so when I arrived in Armenia she arranged for one of her drivers, Samvel, to show me the country. On our first day together Samvel took me to the north of Armenia – Tsaghkadzor, Lake Sevan, Dilijan, Goshavank and Vanadzor. The next day we drove south, to Tatev monastery. On the way to Tatev Samvel stopped to give me time on my own – to contemplate at Khor Virap and Noravank monasteries, and wander through the ancient Zorats Karer stones. These places fascinated me – but more than that, the journey was breathtaking. I was mesmerised by how the towns of Yeghegnadzor and Vayk felt, and the landscapes we passed between Areni and Tatev.

Lake Sevan ArmeniaKhor Virap Armenia

Noravank ArmeniaArmenia

For the next three years, I travelled to Yerevan each spring for my work, and got to know the people at the companies I had meetings with. Samvel had become a friend, and in 2018 he took me to the conflict zone of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh to Armenians),  where we stopped in the town of Shushi, at the central market in Stepanakert, and at the monastery at Dadivank. Back in Yerevan the next day I found myself in the middle of the mass protests that removed prime-minister Serzh Sargsyan. I was in a cafe near the Cascade complex when the news broke that he had stood down, and joined the crowd on Republic Square that night.

Stepanakert Nagorno-Karabakh

Stepanakert Nagorno-KarabakhYerevan ArmeniaYerevan Armenia

I don’t travel for my work any more, and have made peace with the fact that I will probably never go to Armenia again. But of all the places I have ever spent time in, Armenia is the country that I miss the most. 

ArmeniaArmenia

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