Day 39: My moment of fame
Yerevan Travel Blog› entry 57 of 260 › view all entries
May 14th, 2010 – by: Biedjee
Apart from the many extensive day tours the Envoy hostel also organises daily city walks in the morning and evening - for free!
What better way to start the exploration of a city than with a 2.5 hour guided walk? The four of us were joined by another Italian, Antonino, another photographer - much to the despair of Gevorg.
Gevorg showed us some of the more interesting sights around town of which I particularly liked the covered market. This is an 'impressive' Soviet style building which houses a very Middle-Eastern bazaar style market. However, compared to the bazaars I'd seen in Turkey here the people were incredibly friendly, many of them offering to sample their merchandise.
In my opinion this is a much better tactic than the “hello, you come look inside my shop? Very cheap price for you yes?” which I've heard so many times over the past three weeks. After tasting some delicious dried fruits from a genuinely nice couple, it was impossible for me not to buy something.
We walked on past the Iranian mosque, the only working mosque left in Armenia. And while Armenia is fairly liberal towards other religions, the local community has forced the mosque to stop broadcasting their call for prayer due to the noise. I wish they'd do the same to the church next to my house, which wakes me up every Sunday...
Towards the western part of the centre we had a stunning view over Mount Ararat in the distance. This is the sacred mountain for the Armenians where allegedly Noah's ark ran aground and he set out to re-populate the world's flora and fauna (I always wondered how those two kangaroos managed to get back to Australia from here, but never mind that).
Mount Ararat is the symbol of the nation, even though present day borders place it in Turkey.
We walked on past the new National Museum, which features a copy of the original Yerevan map on its façade. The unique layout of the city was designed by the Persians, as a present to the ruler at the time. The map, carved into the sandstone façade of the museum, is said to be an exact copy of the original map as presented to the local rulers at the time. Or so the myth goes.
Whatever the truth, fact remains that Yerevan has a unique layout, shaped like the sun, with the streets as spokes in a wheel (and only one north-south street in the whole city), and landmarks at the north, east, south and west ends of the city.
I am not sure whether it was caused by the delays of three people taking endless photographs of everything, or by the fact that Gevorg just likes us and likes talking and hanging out with us, but the 2.5 hour walking tour took 4 hours and we weren't even halfway. Gevorg had to get back to the hostel and Antonino was going on another excursion in the afternoon, so the girls and I had some lunch at one of the open air places at the Opera house.
After lunch I met up with a girl who I had met via the Travbuddy website. When I stated on my profile that I was going to Armenia, I was approached by a girl, Anhat, who had offered me all kinds of helpful advice about the country.
We met up in the centre and went for a coffee and had a nice chat. Unfortunately she had to leave for work again after about an hour, so our chat was kept rather short.
Back at the Envoy hostel I had my little moment of fame when I was interviewed. The Envoy hostel has an extensive website which features a blog where they talk about the people that stay at the hostel and why they chose Armenia. They wanted to talk to me because also I write about my travels. The interview will be published on the Envoy hostel website.
Incidentally, the previous interview they did was with Chan, the Korean cyclist I'd met at Sumela.
In the evening the three London girls, Antonino and I went to Republic square where a nightly fountain show takes place. Set to the tune of the most famous Armenian ever, Charles Aznavour, a dazzling display of light and water takes place here every night.
The display is supposed to take place every night from nine to midnight, but in true Armenian fashion it usually starts 20 minutes to half an hour late, and often finishes well before midnight. That does not deter form the fact that the display is a truly spectacular one, and it is obvious that a lot of time and effort has gone into the whole programming and timing of the display.
All in all excellent entertainment.
We had a quick dinner near Republic square after which we went to have a look at Yerevan's bustling nightlife. Well, there isn't much. While the evenings in Yerevan are wonderful with open air bars and restaurants all around the city, after midnight all that remains for entertainment is a handful of basement bars and a few upmarket nightclubs in the suburbs.
We settled for an Irish pub near the hostel, where we were joined by Gevorg who had just finished working.
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