Welcome to Armenia!

I’m exhausted! Do you want to know what time we finally got to our Airbnb in Yerevan (the capital of Armenia) after the delay in Kiev? 3:30AM! Sarah and I were about ready to collapse. Of course, though, that thing happened where when you’re really tired, you cross a line into being semi-delusional and then you’re all wound up, and it’s hard to fall asleep. We managed to pull ourselves together by around 4:15 and decided to push our wake up time back by a few hours… we were originally planning for 8AM, and there was a zero percent chance of that happening.

The opera house

We rolled out of bed around 11 and managed to get moving by noon. The first thing we wanted to do was get our bearings, so we set off without much of a plan, ready to roll with whatever came our way. Sarah steered us in the direction of the Opera Theater which is in the southern part of an area with a bunch of really well-done public spaces. That’s one of the things we’ve noticed and enjoyed the most about Yerevan so far. Unlike some cities, the public spaces here have plenty of benches and shade trees and other things to make the space actually usable! It’s no fun sitting in on a hot, direct-sun covered bench when you’re trying to take a breather. Plus, there are fountains and little man-made lakes, and it makes the city feel much more livable. There is also a lot of public art which I really enjoyed. Yes, sometimes (often) public art is weird, but it’s fun to look at (and pose with!).

We thought this was funny. We didn’t need to come all the way to Armenia to take this picture… the nearly identical (except it’s red instead of blue) love statue in Philly is much closer to home!

Perfect

Nailed it.

Check out that landscaping. And that beautiful tower crane over the stairs.

From there, we headed up the Yerevan version of the Spanish Steps (in Rome), the Cascade Complex. As someone who’s experienced both though, I can say that these stairs are way cooler! Apparently, there’s a free escalator that runs all the way up underneath the stairs, but Sarah INSISTED that we walk. I’ll admit that it was cool getting to see the view of the city get better and better as we climbed higher, but it was less cool realizing how out-of-shape I’ve gotten in the past few weeks. Ugh.

The entire staircase was like a celebration of water… which we definitely didn’t mind because it was HOT, and getting splashed was a great way to cool off!

There are also fountains/water features and plants throughout the staircase, and stopped at all of the landings to check out what new and interesting things were happening at each (not because we were dying or anything… no, of course not). About halfway up, we were thrilled to see a drinking water fountain… My other favorite thing about Armenia so far? You can drink the water!!! I’m tired of not being able to drink tap water, so this is beyond fabulous! For anyone who doesn’t understand this struggle, say a big THANK YOU to whoever is responsible for the clean water where you live. It’s nice to not have to worry about drinking arsenic or dysentery-causing bacteria and getting skin infections from shaving your legs with bacteria-filled water (that last one actually did happen to me in Ghana… not cool).

At the top, we were welcomed by an awesome view of the city with Mount Ararat in the background. I’ve seen millions of pictures of that mountain, but let me tell you, it doesn’t make it any less incredible when you see it in person. Sarah and I were completely geeking out.

I ❤ public art

Divers!

Flowers and Ararat!

Victory Park, one of the many Yerevan parks, is also at the top of the stairs, so we took a stroll through the amusement park, rode on mildly questionable ferris wheel, and fell in love with the statue of Mother Armenia. Check out the pictures below. Have you ever seen a more empowered looking woman?? She looks fierce and like she’s about to kick some serious butt.

Lunch is served!

Ferris wheel! I promise these are happy smiles, not “I’m kind of terrified that this ferris wheel is going to collapse” smiles

Mother Armenia, looking over her kingdom

She’s so cool.

We were about ready to collapse after all of our walking in the hot sun, so we headed back to the apartment to regroup. That was followed by a shopping trip, after which we were confident in the true identities of about 3/10 things that we purchased (you try shopping in a country where the alphabet isn’t even the same… it’s not easy!). Example of our shopping conversations:

“Okay, we need butter.”

“This looks like butter… I think? Do you think?”

“Yeah I think so… yeah. Yeah that definitely looks like it’s probably butter.”

“Okay well… I guess we’ll find out.”

Repeat for every item on the list.

We spent a good 10 minutes standing in front of the meat counter trying to identify literally anything. In case you were wondering, that ended with us purchasing zero meats after we 1) failed to identify even one, 2) realized that we didn’t know how to order them, and 3) were not really in the mood to break out a full-on charades act.

Also, fun fact, it’s about $8 for a regular sized jar of peanut butter. Darn imported goods.

Pop up stage

As much as we wanted to go to sleep after all of that, we dragged ourselves back out of the apartment to listen to some live Armenia music at the base of the Cascade Complex before calling it a day. All in all, a solid first day of our first Sarah/Lara (you can call us Slarah…I know, not the best thing we’ve ever come up with, but it’s really the only way to combine our names) international vacation. Stay tuned… I’m sure that plenty more language-struggle-filled adventures lie ahead.

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