Everyone agrees to disagree with the topic of whether Armenia and Georgia are part of Asia or Europe. Technically, according to articles that I’ve read, anything north of the Caucasus mountain is considered as a European country and everything underneath is Asian, including Turkey. Although, there’s no clear definitive dividing line that states so. Still, locals of the country have generally considered themselves as European due to the practices and way of living which was passed from generations to generations. For the plurality, Armenia and Georgia are considered to be the balcony of Europe.
Let’s settle and meet half-way, Armenia and Georgia are Eurasian countries.
With all obvious reasons, I wasn’t concerned about which continent these countries belong to. At the time of clicking and hitting confirm booking all I wanted was to have a holiday from adulthood, “vacation” was such a battle cry for a couple of months you’ve no idea how dragging maturity is at times.
Armenia is a three-hour flight from UAE which I think isn’t that bad if you’re having a frenzy in an economy cabin. When the plane landed, it’s amazing how weather drastically changed from chilly Dubai to freezing white Yerevan. I have to admit that tears started to form in the corner of my eyes when I first caught a sight of a falling snow-I did a short thank you prayer because it’s the right thing to do. It was magical to see it for the first time and I kind of felt giddy, butterflies were in my tummy and I just felt so blessed.
I stayed there for two days and honestly did not book a private tour. I would like to see old churches and other touristic destinations such as the Ararat mountain (if you’re reading the Bible you’ll know why this is a tourist destination-turn to book Genesis people), but I decided to take it easy and cool. Instead of spending a penny for tours and private cabs, I opted to walk, explore local food, window shop, drink coffee, talk to strangers and most of all, Je Bois du Vin. It’s just a must when you’re in this type of country. Their culture is pretty much intertwined with wine.
I fell in love with Armenia and I think I still have that hung-over even though it has been more than a month now. In fact, I wanted to go back soon as time permits. The country isn’t grand and fancy like Dubai (which everyone will agree is exaggeratedly expensive and still getting more expensive by time) and that’s what I like about Armenia. It’s the kind of place where the antediluvian existence collaborates with the millennial things. People are so nice that when you meet them they won’t have a second thought of sharing a warm smile. Some old people even gave a respectful bow to tourist like me and it’s amazing. It felt safe and quiet. It felt like humanity still has a chance, I still would like to believe that.
Most of the people speak good English and that’s such a good point when traveling, the ease of communication. If they can’t express themselves in a foreign language especially when you’re asking for directions, they’ll walk you through until you’ve reached the destination. I’ve experienced that myself. A guy walked me and my friend to the supermarket because we’re having a hard time locating it. It felt really gratifying to share a conversation with a random stranger while we walk our way and after just bid our Au Revoir.
Most of the people looked at us with an unsaid awe. You can see it in their faces. They know that we do not belong by basing their judgment with our physical profile and the way we enunciate words yet they welcome and treat us like Armenia is ours too. That’s how it felt, supermarket people, restaurant people-everyone are so welcoming and friendly and I just would like to say that with a deep conviction.
Armenia is a relatively cheap country and that’s one more thing to love about Armenia. A visa for a Filipino citizen like myself can be obtained upon arrival at the airport. The cost? 3000 Armenian dram for 21 days (AED 22.65). The flat that we’ve booked through Airbnb costs AED 360 per night for a two bedroom apartment complete with all the facilities you’ll need like kitchen and laundry room. We were five people who stayed in the flat so we paid AED 72 per night. Now compare that to a hotel stay which will plausibly cost you a hefty amount a night (that’s why I love Airbnb).
To save cash while traveling I usually cook breakfast for the rest of the gang. Typically bread which we usually have bought from the supermarket, noodles, canned goods, and coffee. Yup, that’s pretty much unhealthy but we aim to save and spend good food over lunch and dinner or should I say a fancy lunch and dinner instead? Yup, good restaurants, a fine dining one can be found along Republic Square. The amount you’ll spend in a cafeteria for a meal for five persons in Dubai is the same amount you’ll spend when eating fancy with a glass of wine in Armenia.
Foods are pretty nice and well portioned. Some items on the menu pretty much resemble Middle Eastern dishes like kebabs, they like corianders too. The famous dish in Armenia is Khachapuri, a round pizza-like dish that has cheese fillings. Fillings can vary depending on your order, but cheese is the king. Khin Khali is something you wouldn’t want to miss when you’re in Armenia! This one’s similar to the Chinese Xiao Long Bao and the Nepali Momo, they only differ in shape. Of course, don’t you forget the glorious wine. A good bottle in a supermarket can cost AED 18 which means you can bring tons as a gift back home.
The restaurants that I have been to openly serves alcohol that’s why even if it’s lunch (which I guess everyone agrees to be too early for a booze), I still sip wine like a boss. And right after paying the bill I’m laughing at nothing because I honestly have low alcohol tolerance and I feel tipsy. Tipsy can be good at times don’t you think?
There’s so much to love about Armenia and there’s a lot of things worth going back for. For now, I’ll be back daydreaming.
(old wine bottles)
(pile of snow along downtown)
(walking along republic square looking for some warm place to have coffee)
(hotels along vernisage market)