Wow, this is probably the fastest publishing of a sequel to a travel entry in the history of The Pink Tarha! Haha. We posted the first part of our Armenia trip HERE. We still have a lot of pending entries and I would like to think this coming eid holiday would be the perfect time to write all of them but since we still have one week to go of Ramadan 2019, might as well start off with writing these long overdue Armenia stories.
We didn’t see Yerevan, the capital. Yes, we stayed there but we did not take the city tour. Our friend Jou walked at night to see the plaza but other than that, we only saw Yerevan through the van’s windows on our way outside of Yerevan. Is there a special reason why we did not do the city tour? We only had 2 full days in Armenia and we chose to go to the “nature” tourist attractions. That’s that. Yerevan is the historical center of Armenia and a lot of its buildings and structures are testament to the hard work and passion of its people and we get that; most capital cities are. The joy of choosing Kabayans & Pinoys in Tbilisi, Georgia under the G7 Euro Tours and Travels as our travel agency for our Georgia and Armenia trip is our freedom to choose where we want to go and what we want to do. Geraldine presented several day-trip itineraries and we chose from there. That’s why we had the Khor Virap excursion on Day 1 and then the Tatev excursion on Day 2.
We were picked up by our guide, Sergei, in Comfort Hotel with the van that took us from Georgia to Armenia on the next day. Let me tell you about Sergei. He’s young and with his youth comes a quirkiness that will make you either like him or annoyed with him, in a funny way. He’s knowledgeable and he’s pretty much cool and chill. He lets us wander around on our own and tries his best to give us the important snippets of the places we went to. He’s also confused, haha. Sometimes it’s because of the language barrier; sometimes, he’s just young. Haha. During one of our road trips, we were talking about fruits and he insisted that berries are not fruits. We were like HUH??? So we had to explain to him that berries are fruits! This went on for hours until he finally conceded and said that his whole life was a lie! OMG ROFL. He certainly made those long trips interesting.
Anyway, so our Day 2 in Armenia is in Tatev. From Yerevan, we traveled 4 hours to reach Tatev Village in the Syunik Province in southeastern Armenia. Located in the deep gorge of the Vorotan River is the Tatev monastery, one of the most significant sites in the area. It hosted one of the most important Armenian medieval universities, the University of Tatev. During its heyday, the scholars of the university contributed to the advancement of science, religion, and philosophy. I don’t know why but what comes into my mind are men in brown robes holding books and doing experiments in rooms of brick walls. #medieval Another thing that drew us to Tatev is the Wings of Tatev, a cableway that was included in the Guinness World of Records as the world’s longest non-stop double track cable car.
To visit the Tatev monastery, we rode the Wings of Tatev. Roundtrip tickets are available at the Halidzor station for 7000 Armenian Dram (approx. SR 58). You can also buy it online. For us, it’s already part of the tour package so we let Sergei handle that part and we just lined up for the next available cable car. The entire trip takes around 12-17 minutes. The cable car can hold 30 persons at a time. It’s very modern, clean and stable. Those with fear of heights will take comfort in this knowledge; it’s not scary. Promise. Disregard the fact that it only took 10 months to construct this. Haha. This aerial highway opened in October 2010 and all the profit the Wings get goes into the Tatev Monastery Reconstruction Initiative.
Of course, if you don’t want to ride the Wings of Tatev to reach the monastery, you can always HIKE. Like that’s easier right? Haha. There are hiking tours available for those who are up (or fit) for it. The start is at the Halidzor station down to the Halidzro village. It’s a very scenic view with old churches, mineral springs, old ruins, and stone houses. While that seems promising, we’d rather take the cableway, thank you very much.
While on the cable car, an audio guide will describe places that you can see down below or from afar. There are villages abandoned in the middle of the last century. Visible from the cabin window on the third longest section of the cableway is the Great Hermitage of Syunik, a monastery complex founded by Kharants monks in 1608-1613. It was abandoned in 1658 because of an earthquake and the monks resettled in what is known as the Great Hermitage of Tatev. From the cable car, we can see endless hills and forests and the great Vorotan River which is flowing deep in the gorge. In between these amazing natural landscape are water springs, ancient cave dwellings and hermit shelters (wonder if there are still hermits living in the canyon?). The Satani Kamurdjaka Devil’s Bridge, one of Armenia’s natural wonders, can also be seen located below the Tatev Monastery. This natural bridge made of petrified lava is 60 meters long.
Overall, the cable car ride is very relaxing. I’ve ridden a lot of cable car rides and this one is up there in experience. The views are gorgeous and the ride length is just right to enjoy the sceneries back and forth; no time to get bored.
When we reached Tatev Monastery, we were once again awed by Armenia’s old churches. This monastery is a beauty, especially the Sts. Peter and Paul Church, the oldest construction in the complex. I’m quite fond of Sts. Peter and Paul because our church in my hometown in the Philippines is named after them. I was baptized there. I attended kindergarten in the school run by the church. I go to church there when I was still based in La Union. And I was also married there. So imagine my awe when I also found another Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Armenia! Other churches in the Tatev complex are Saint Gregory the Illuminator Church and Holy Mother of God Church.
It is believed that the Tatev Monastery is named after Eustateus, a disciple of St. Thaddeus the Apostle. Over time, his name evolved to Tatev. “Ta Tev” is also “wings” in Armenian. So apt! The whole ground is so peaceful and awe-inspiring. The churches have their own charming features from their pillars to their tiled roofs, stoned walls and domes and facades that have bas-relief. Every corner, every spot is worth taking a picture of. Insta-worthy place? Definitely this!
There are also vendors of herbs and nuts on the way to the monastery. And beyond them, trees with yellow and orange leaves that we played with. Hagis hagis ng leaves in the photo? Why not! Higa sa damuhan photo? Push! Haha. We had a great time at the Tatev Monastery complex. An added bonus is the wonderful weather, the blue sky and the dramatic backdrop. Love it!
After Tatev, we insisted on eating first before proceeding to the next agenda in our itinerary. #FOODisLAYF. We stopped by to eat at Tatni Restaurant.
It’s like an art gallery too with its gorgeous paintings. We had one dining room to ourselves ad we were surrounded by huge paintings in gold frames. At first, we were disappointed that almost everything we wanted was not available on that day. We ended up ordering fish, the first time we’re eating fish in this journey. And oh my gahd, we’ve been wasting our time eating meat! We should have been ordering the fish in Armenia! It was sooo good! It was a fresh catch of the day, grilled and served in our table. Delicious! Of course, we can’t help with the kebabs. Haha.
Remember the reason of traffic from the first Armenia entry? Well, hindi lang pala sheeps. Sila rin:
Holy cows! Ang dami nila! And because they’re the bigger animals, we can’t go to the other side of the road to “overtake”. We had to wait for them to pass and free up a part of the street. Makikiraan po!
Finally, we reached the last tourist attraction of our Armenia trip: Jermuk Waterfall.
Jermuk is a mountain spa town, a popular medical tourism destination in the Soviet Union. People flock here to bathe in its hot springs. Its mineral water is also bottled in the town center. The town is being redeveloped to become a modern center of tourism and health services. It was already late afternoon when we reach the Jermuk Waterfall so we only managed to take photos.
Just a quick advice: use the bathroom before going to Jermuk Waterfall because there’s no restrooms in the place and nearby. You’ve been warned. Haha.
When we went back to our hotel in Yerevan, we ate in the same restaurant as Day 1 (boring, right), and called it a day. We were going back to Georgia at 5:00 the following morning so we needed to sleep early so we can wake up early. Okay, so that’s how we ended our trip in Armenia. It was sooo short WE KNOW! However, even with just two days in this country, we thoroughly enjoyed it. We got immersed in its history, culture, and geography. We’ve traveled by land in Armenia so much that every time I hear one of the songs I saved for this trip, Armenia’s barren yet rich landscape outside the van’s window is all I ever see in my head.
Thank you, Armenia!