Tuesday, May 16, 2006

"Best of" Day 2

How to show 2 non- Armenians a fabulous time in Armenia, Day 2

1. Grab a professional repat who really knows his way around because he has been living in Armenia for 7 years already and has even written his share of travel books on the country (Raffi), AND your favorite tour guide/collegue (Arshak) and plan a road trip for the day!

2. Start by renting a car from Lemon Rent-a-Car (rest assured that all the Americans here have already acknowledged the humor in the name of this company). Our trusty volkswagen is pictured below.

3. First stop: the always stunning Lake Sevan from the vantage point of the peninsula, where the monastery of Sevanavank stands. Lake Sevan covers 5% of Armenia's surface area and is nestled inside the Geghama mountain range at 2,000 meters above sea level. The waters seem to change from crystal blue, to deep purple to turqouise depending on the time of day. We point out to our guests that it's customary for the locals to sell fish that they have caught from the lake on the side of the road. How do you know who's fish are best? Apparently size does matter and each vendor tries to boast by showing you through his armspan just how big the fish he caught are!

5. Stop for another meal of Khorovats, on the banks of a river that runs through Dilijan. We happened to catch the photo-op of the year as a group of WWII veterans were assembled in honor of May 9th, victory day.

6. Cruise further north still into the depths of the lush Tavush region and check out Haghartsin Monastary nesstled in the rolling hills...a stop made even more amusing if you manage to stumble upon a group of locals throwing themselves a party in the middle of the mountain, complete with accordion playing, singing and drinking. You must, of course, join in for a toast or two!

7. Meet the old man and woman who bake sweet bread and sell it by the church, and offer to help them...chop wood?!

8. Stop through the actual town of Dilijan and walk around. The Tufenkian foundations is renovating this old street to make it a site for artisans to set up workshops and sell their crafts.

9. Head back to Yerevan in time to catch the ARMENIAN NAVY BAND's last performance in town for the season! They play at their own venue, called Avante-Gard which is always cozy and packed with the Navy Band's adoring fans. There really isn't a way to describe how incredible and unique this band is, so you'll just have to come see one of their shows for yourself.

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