The vernissage weekend market (Yerevan; Armenia)
So onto the Armenian capital, courtesy of a combination of one short taxi ride, and one longer marshrutka (minibus) ride, and hey presto, I'm smack ban in the middle of Yerevan, the official capital city of Armenia. The choice of hotel, Yerevan Deluxe hotel, scored points for being conveniently-located and sufficiently equipped to make a 3-night stay here feel wholly fulfilling, and with the delights of Yerevan to sample, the Armenian chapter was on the brink of being fully realized. Oddly enough, the first port of call was the outlying leisure complex that is the Aquatek indoor waterpark, and the range of attractions therein made it worth a short trek out of the city centre.
The view of Mount Ararat from the cascade complex (Yerevan; Armenia)
Stopping off at the Yerevan city mall on the way back was a mighty fine way of becoming acquainted with the city's (impressive) range of shopping options. Onto day 2, and this was destined to be the Yerevan walking tour to end all others, courtesy of a plotted route lifted straight from the Bradt travel guide to Armenia. Starting off at the President's residence, the next port of call happened to be the majestic cascade complex, and the priceless city and skyline views that the place affords, when perched atop the numerous steps which lead to this vantage point. Mount Ararat, located in neighbouring Turkey, is visible from here on a sufficiently clear day, and the views thereof are nothing short of intoxicating, especially when you take into account the physical distance it is located from central Yerevan.
St. Gr. Lusavorich (Yerevan; Armenia)
Continuing the route, the trek past the Opera House (and adjoining Swan Lake), and down Mashtots Avenue, the next point of interest is the Blue Mosque, in all its Islamic splendour, and is an indication of the types of collective influences which have made Yerevan what it is today. The reason why the Dalma Garden Mall felt out of place is that it is a brand spanking new development in the midst of urban terrain which has conserved many elements of the past, so for my money, instead try the Petak indoor market, which will offer all you seek at reasonable prices. Moving further afield brings you eventually to the main thoroughfare which is Abovyan street, and a grand-looking offshoot from this, which is North Avenue, essentially the best example of how the wealth in Armenia has translated into urban development.
The Armenian Parliament building (Yerevan; Armenia)
For my money, the most photogenic view in Yerevan at ground level (which rules out the cascade complex) is in Republic Square, either by day or by night, and the prime location of a Marriott hotel here suggests that rent prices in this area are clearly at a premium. One major tourist magnet for visitors to Yerevan is the weekend flea market known as the vernissage, and the range and display of goods for sale there is a browser's delight, even if luggage weight restrictions might well deter you from making a sizeable purchase there. This was Yerevan, and is best described in one word as 'underrated', as the city packed a mightier punch than even I had previously envisaged. If this is real travel, then please feel free to count me in as a recent addition to the Armenian appreciation society.