Armenia is not in my 20 before 2020 travel list. In fact, I didn't know anything about the country two years ago! I first learned about its potential to be a good travel destination for Filipinos based in the UAE when a family member mentioned that she's heading there for a visa run, but it was only this year that I realized how gem of a country Armenia is!
During our 4-day travel in Armenia, I fell in love with its history, humility, strength and scenery! And I know 7 types of people who will feel the same way.
The Budget Traveler
Armenia is a budget-friendly destination. Roundtrip flights from UAE ranges from 700 to 1000 AED. We flew via Air Arabia, Middle East's first and largest low-cost carrier, from Sharjah to Yerevan. Filipinos can get a single entry Armenian Visa on Arrival for only 7 USD, around 25 AED. Accommodation is easy on the pocket. A bed in a dorm-type room can be booked for as low as 20 AED per night. A deluxe room in a hotel is reasonably priced at 200 AED per night. Food is affordable as well. You can already fine dine at 6000 AMD or 45 AED!
|the Caucasus mountains as seen on board Air Arabia Sharjah to Yerevan flight|
The Photography Enthusiast
You should always have your camera ready in Armenia! The country is filled with breathtaking scenery. I heard cameras clicking time and again on board our tour bus. And when it was time to hop off, nobody leaves the bus without a camera or a go pro or a smartphone in hand! The attractions are so beautiful that we wanted to document each and every step. But of course, we devoted a time to see the beauty up close and not through the lenses.
|One of the best spots for photography is this hill near Sevanavank monastery.|
Armenia is the first country to embrace Christianity as a state religion. Faith spreads through the landscape. Khatchkars or stone crosses can be seen everywhere. Ancient monasteries are kept in the midst of unspoiled surroundings. We visited the Geghard Monastery, one of the important pilgrimage sites, during our trip. It is called as the Monastery of the Spear as it is believed to be the place where the Holy Lance (the lance that pierced Jesus when he was on the cross) was kept.
The Culture Vulture
Armenia is culturally rich. Despite the modern times, the locals are bound to keep the old traditions alive. Centuries-old monasteries are still used today. Traditional art forms are prominent in the city. Head to the Vernissage market to buy local handicrafts - needle works, paintings, ceramics, sculptures. And if you want to see a musical performance, there's the Opera House - Yerevan's cultural hub. Classic Armenian music are also being played in restaurants. I even had the chance to join a traditional Armenian dance in Tavern Yerevan!
|Vernissage Market in Yerevan|
The Nature Buff
Armenia may be a small country, yet it is abundant in natural wonders! It's amazing how we spent the morning in a rainforest, midday by the lake, afternoon at the foot of the mountain. And one day, after visiting Garni temple, we drove down to the gorge to see the Symphony of Stones - an impressive rock formation naturally created by volcanic eruptions! Our 4-day trip was not enough to see everything! I long to be back in spring or summer to see the wildflowers bloom and relax by the thermal springs!
|winter fun at Tsaghkadzor|
Yerevan has over 40 museums and galleries. A leisure stroll in the cosmopolitan capital of Armenia led us to the Cascade, a giant stairway where various artworks are displayed. I'm not an artsy person; hence little did I know that I was already in the Cafesjian Museum of Art. I'm pretty sure my artsy friends will drool over the sculptures of influential artists. Fernando Botero, known for his "bloated" sculptures, has distinct artworks in the Cafesjian Sculpture Garden. You'll surely not miss his Black Cat, Smoking Woman and Roman Warrior.
|Cafesjian Sculpture Garden and the Cascade|
A true blue foodie will definitely appreciate Armenian cuisine. Dishes are made of locally-produced vegetables, meat, fish and dairy. Meals start with a scrumptious spread of cheese, greens, cold cuts and lavash. Armenian delicacies like dolma (grape leaves stuffed with rice and meat), khoravat (succulent meat grilled over a wood fire) and khashlama (a lamb dish often served during feasts) are best choices for main course. Fresh fruits and pastries are then served at the end of the meal, along with Armenian tea or coffee. We spent two to three hours for lunch and dinner as traditional Armenian meals are meant to be enjoyed, not rushed!
|Lamb Khoravat served with a healthy side dish|
Are you one of these people? If you're ready to fall in love with Armenia, check out my article at Dubai OFW community blog: Armenia Travel Guide: Things to Know for First Time Visitors. I will be sharing more travel tips and experiences soon. Meanwhile, catch a sneak peek in our travel video: Sweet Escapes in Armenia. :)