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Synopsis Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenia has remained on the brink of on the brink of becoming an economic crossroads or an isolated backwater, a democratic or authoritarian state, a peaceful and prosperous country or a nation on the brink of conflict. Buy Used View Book. Other Popular Editions of the Same Title. Search for all books with this author and title. Due to mountainous location and hills, bicycling is not such a common mode of transport in Armenia, as it is in the rest of Europe.

Otherwise, it's a great way to see and experience much of the countryside if you can handle the inclines. All trains in Armenia remember Soviet times. All other trains are slow but cheap. There are several daily trains towards Gyumri and one to Yerakhs at the closed border with Nakhichevan. On summer weekends, one daily train operates from the northern Almast station to Lake Sevan, all the way to Shorzha on the far side.

The only station north of Gyumri that is officially accessible to passengers is Vanadzor, where the Georgia-bound train stops. North of Vanadzor there are only technical stops to which tickets can't be bought Pambak, Shahali, Sanahin, Ayrum.

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  • Armenia has only two working airports Yeveran and Shirak but there are no internal flights between them. Flights to Stepanakert in Nagorno-Karabakh are planned but the region's uneasy diplomacy is stalling progress. Armenian is the only official language in Armenia, which forms its own language group in the Indo-European language family. However, almost all Armenians can speak some Russian because Armenia was part of the Soviet Union , and Russian continues to be a compulsory second language in schools.

    English is becoming more widely spoken, particularly in Yerevan ; however, outside the capital, very few people speak any English. Armenia lies at the root of the Christian faith, as it is known as the first country that was Evangelized, by two of Jesus' own disciples. Today, there's still a wealth of religious heritage to see. Beautiful churches and monasteries are omnipresent, and some are up to years old.

    Armenia: At the Crossroads

    A few of the most important ones are listed on Unesco's World Heritage list. To start, there's the monastery of Geghard , carved out of a mountain slope and dramatically situated between the stunning cliffs of the Azat river gorge. Once you're there, the Garni Temple with its Greek temple style buildings is just a quick stop downriver. The Etchmiadzin Cathedral in Vagharshapat has parts dating back to the 5th century and is considered the oldest cathedral in the world.

    The Monastry of Sanahin , which means as much as "this one is older than that one" is just a stone's throw from the Haghpat Monastery. Both date back to the 10th century. The 7th century Zvartnots Cathedral is now in ruins, but considered of great archeological value. If you're up for more, consider the basilica and archaeological site of Yererouk or the ruins of the historic city of Dvin.

    Some heritage sights sit in beautiful valleys. The monastery of Noravank is a good sight in the lovely Amaghou Valley, while the monasteries of Tatev and Tatevi Anapat sit in the Vorotan Valley - a gorgeous area with great landscapes and dotted with churches. Unlisted but surely beautiful is the monastery of Khor Virap. It offers great views of Mount Ararat which is in Turkey, but is nonetheless seen on the Armenian national flag. This famous mountain can be seen weather permitting from the nation's capital, Yerevan. Yerevan tural centre, with plenty of opera and theatre to go around. For a more casual side, visit the lively Vernisaj Market or climb the stairs of the Yerevan Cascade.

    Another hotspot for domestic and international travellers alike is Lake Sevan. In summer, the beaches of this massive high-altitude fresh water lake one of the largest in the world , are a popular destination for anything from daytrips to camp site vacations and resort holidays. Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from XE. Wikivoyage will use dram in its articles to identify the currency. The dram is accepted everywhere, and in some rare cases US dollars will be accepted for larger purchases - though the dram is the only legal currency for commerce.

    US dollars, euros and Russian rubles can be exchanged almost anywhere in the country, with other major currencies also easy to exchange. Exchange booths and commercial banks do not charge a commission and rates are almost always quite competitive. ATMs Bankomats are widely available in larger towns; though outside of Yerevan, you should have a major system such as Visa or MasterCard on your card for it to work.

    Armenian carpets, cognac, fruits, handicrafts and Soviet memorabilia are some of the most popular things people take home from Armenia. Most of these are plentiful at Vernissage, a seemingly never-ending weekend flea market next to Republic Square with the more touristy stuff in the back half, further from Republic Square. Most shops and restaurants are open every day and offices and schools are open Monday to Saturday.

    Mornings are usually slow, and places don't tend to open early, or even on time. Bargaining is uncommon in Armenian stores, though when purchasing expensive items or bulk, they may be amenable to it. In markets, however, bargaining is a must!

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    Tipping is increasingly common in Armenia, especially at cafes and restaurants. Many Armenians will simply round up their checks, or leave ten percent. This fee is often not clearly stated on the menu, so you should ask if you want to know. Tipping is usually not expected in taxis, but again, rounding up is not uncommon.

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    • Vernisage Crafts and Flea Market - every Saturday and Sunday near Republic Square, there is a huge open market with great shopping for tourists and locals alike. There are large sections for old carpets, intricate wood carvings and backgammon boards, paintings, souvenirs, old porcelain and old housewares, with smaller sections for needlework and embroidery, stone work, books, military surplus and countless other random things.

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      Inside are fresh fruits and vegetables along with great dried fruits, as well as a butcher section and dried herb section. Outside on one side are more butchers and on the other more fresh fruit and vegetable vendors, next to a row of hand made metal wood-burning stove stalls. For Armenian- and Russian-speaking visitors, a visit to the used book market can be quite interesting.

      Located in a park near the corner of Abovyan and Moskovyan Streets, close to the Yeritasardakan Metro Station, vendors sell thousands of books. You may try to bargain. Armenian fruits and vegetables are special. One should definitely try them and will never forget the taste of Armenian apricot, peach, grapes, pomegranate, etc.

      Especially the watermelons in Armenia and neighboring countries with similar altitude and climate are of superior taste. Armenian bread is very tasty. There is a wide range of different types of bread, including black, white lavash a soft, thin flatbread , and matnaqash.

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      Along with ordinary milk products, there are some traditional and really tasty and refreshing ones. Matsun yogurt is a traditional Armenian dairy product that has centuries of history. It contains a number of natural microelements, which have high biochemical activity. Diluted with water or whey or both until drinkable, it becomes tan , and is sold in bottles.

      Okroshka is cold soup with tan , cucumber and dill; it is a healthy and refreshing dairy product. Spas is really tasty hot matsun soup with grains in it. Any place near the Opera is certain to be jumping late into the summer nights. A popular chain is "Jazzve" several locations throughout the city, including near the Opera and off Mesrop Mashtots Avenue , which offers many varieties of tea and coffee as well as great desserts.

      Alcoholic: Vodka, tutti oghi mulberry vodka , honi oghi cornelian cherry vodka , Tsirani oghi apricot vodka , local beer Kilikia, Kotayk, Gyumri , wine can also be made of pomegranate , and brandy. Respected wines include Karas, Karasi, Kataro, Armenia and some new wines hitting the market.

      Many are made with Armenian grape varietals not being grown anywhere else in the world. Areni is one of the most popular grape sorts which the largest number of red wines are made from, and the name of Armenia's wine country, while khndoghni is a variety grown in southern Karabakh that the Kataro wine is made from. Other: Tan yogurt combined with water and salt , Jermuk mineral water , masuri hyut rose hip juice , chichkhani hyut sea buckthorne juice , bali hyut sour cherry juice , Armenian coffee, and herbal teas.

      Across Armenia, you can find bed and breakfasts that are pleasant and will give you a true taste of Armenian culture.

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      The language barrier will be significant in the rural areas of Armenia if you do not speak Armenian or Russian , but if you take a phrase dictionary with you, you should have no trouble, as people are patient. If you don't personally know any Armenians, one way to access the true Armenia, away from the Westernized hotels and "Armenian branded" hotels is to find a reliable travel agent based in Armenia.

      In Yerevan , there are a couple of hostels. Outside Yerevan , there are a few main recreational areas that offer very reasonable accommodations, but you will be required to live without some conveniences. Here you will miss nothing, but you will pay Western prices for the accommodations. Around Lake Sevan , there are numerous types of cottages and hotels. The city of Sevan, due to its proximity to Yerevan, is the most popular place on Lake Sevan but the history, culture and non-Western feel of the accommodations change as you go south on Lake Sevan.

      Tavush Marz is a wonderful place to summer. Dilijan and Ijevan are wonderful towns in which to be based, with day trips to the many ancient churches that pepper this remote region. Costs are very reasonable and Dilijan is known for its sanatoriums from the Soviet era. Lori Marz is the second most beautiful region after Vayots Dzor.

      It has many health resort areas such as Stepanavan , Dendropark Sojut next to village Gyulagarak.

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      Lori is considered to be the Armenian Switzerland. It has numerous churches, monasteries, medieval bridges and monuments. The Stepanavan area is great for hiking, tasting fresh dairy products, etc. Tsaghkadzor is a well-known winter retreat. It has many lovely hotels and is popular year round. Check with a travel agent to find the best deal depending on what activity you are looking to undertake. Jermuk , made famous by the bottled water of the same name, is a wonderful get away, but will again require you to leave your western expectations behind.

      Armenian language and history. Since Armenians are very proud to be the first nation to adopt Christianity as a State religion, nearly everyone is almost an expert of Armenian history, which goes back to years.