A Travellerspoint blog

All about the family

When people would ask me about my family in Armenia before I arrived, I would answer that we don't really have many close relatives. I honestly thought that was a fact. Ever since arriving, though, I've been spending a lot of time with relatives that I didn't even know existed. It's been pretty cool to meet my kinsmen right here in the homeland.

My mother has two cousins that we've hung out with - Susan and Haykuhi. We had dinner at Susan's a few days ago, and went over to Haykuhi's on the 13th. Here we are with all the fine ladies. Front row: my mom, Susan, Haykuhi; back row: Annie, me, Srpuhi, Sirarpi (both Haykuhi's daughters).

My dad has a cousin here named Nuritse. It was with her family that we first went to Lake Sevan. They built a gorgeous new house and invited us for the afternoon the next day. We also met a long lost distant cousin of my dad's - Davit Torosyan. His dad and my dad's dad are cousins (I think). Davit's the pastor of Yerevan Evangelical Baptist Church. My dad hadn't seen these people for three decades!

This is a photo from Nuritse's house. Front row: Hamik (Nuritse's husband), Vartan from LA (Nuritse's brother), Davit (Nuritse's grandson), Nuritse. Back row: Davit Torosyan's wife, Davit Torosyan, Dad, Annie, me, Mom, Margarita (Nuritse's daughter).

Annie and I chit chatted outside with Vartan (Nuritse's brother, my dad's cousin). He's from LA so we see him occasionally. We knew he was going to be in Yerevan at the same, but it was funny to run into him on our tour of Garni a few days ago. There was a bespectacled man watching us from afar; du mi asa vor Vartan e! Kind of random to run into an acquaintance in Armenia! Then we kept seeing him all day because we were on similar tours.

And here's Nurtise's adorable granddaughter, Tatevik. She's three or four, and really shy. But she likes chillin with me :)

I couldn't not put in this next picture! Those of you from Utah know our rad amigo Yesayi. His grandma and aunt have been so good to us while we've been here. We visited them on the 14th and were graced with this picture of cute lil' Yes from his childhood. You must've been a beautiful baby, cuz baby, look at you now!

Posted by NatalieSLC 07:33 Archived in Armenia Comments (2)

An ellusive mountain

Khor Virap Monastery is near and dear to an Armenian's heart. It's the church that's featured in all the pictures of Mount Ararat that hang in every Armenian home. Ararat towers over Yerevan, but to get the best view, we were told, one must go to Khor Virap. And that's exactly what we did. The monastery is almost right on the Armenia-Turkey border, which is guarded against would-be trespassers. Our hopes and dreams of catching spectacular views of our legendary mountain were shattered by the looming fog (or was is?) that made it impossible to see the mountain. There's definitely something fishy going on here. Ever since we've arrived, even on the brightest, sunniest days, Ararat has been behind a cloud of haze, hindering our adoring gazes and stifling the nationalist pride that comes with it. An anti-Armenian fog conspiracy, perhaps?

Annie and I posed in front of the mountain, despite its ellusiveness. (Yes, the mountain is really there, just hard to see.) That road running behind marks the first of three buffer zones of the Armenia-Turkey border.

Posted by NatalieSLC 07:11 Archived in Armenia Comments (0)

Monasteries, Iranians, and ancient bread

On our second tour with Sati Tours (I haven't posted about the first one...yet), we went back to Lake Sevan, but only made a quick stop…

…and then Goshavank Monastery in Dilijan, which was built in the 12th century and nestled in a picturesque mountain village…

…and is home to one of the most famous lacework khachkar…

We took so many pictures at Goshavank! The building is beautiful, the surrounding landscape is beautiful. It’s fascinating to realize how old it is and incredibly wonderful to have it in such great condition. It no longer functions as a monastery but still attracts masses of tourists. Visitors: please use it with care. I want it to still be around for a long time.

The next stop was Haghartsin Monastery (yes, another monastery) from the 10th century. A lot of the monasteries we’ve toured have been remote, but Haghartsin was especially isolated. We went up a mountain quite a ways and deep into the forest. It was being renovated when we got there. The work is being funded by an Arab from Dubai (yeah, I don’t get it either lol). This monastery doesn't operate anymore but has an interesting feature: a “bakery” with a brick oven making and selling bread. What’s cool about it is that it’s the same ancient oven that was used by the monks hundreds of years ago! It still functions. We bought some delicious, right-from-the-oven goodies. Those monks were living large, I tell ya.
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Our next stop was another monastery called...something, in...somewhere. I sort of had an overload of these ancient structures and can't tell you anything about this particular visit except that it was raining.

Part of the tour was stopping at a local resident’s house in Dilijan for a home-cooked Armenian meal. Here’s our tour group.

The two on the right are newly-weds from Iran honeymooning in Armenian. Next to them is a couple from Switzerland – an Armenian girl and Italian guy – also on their honeymoon. Then there’s the lady from Australia; beside her is Armine, our spectacular tour guide; and our bus driver at the head of the table. On the other side, which isn't visible, is a couple from NY, and my mom and sis. The “traditional” Armenian meal was good, but nowhere near the caliber of my mama’s cooking. Thanks though :)

Posted by NatalieSLC 06:40 Archived in Armenia Comments (2)

Paying our respects

We paid our respects to those fallen in the Armenian Genocide of 1915 by visiting Tsitsernakabert, the name of the memorial monument. The structure consists of 12 angled pillars surrounding an eternal flame.

Annie, Mom, and I in front of the memorial

Annie and I in front of the eternal flame

Some trees were planted outside by foreign administrations and dignitaries (including the Pope) to commemorate the genocide. Here I’m standing next to the tree planted by the Armenian Assembly of America, the group that organized my internship. Thanks, AAA!

The memorial honors the approximately 1.5 million victims of a systematic genocide by the Turkish government in 1915. Many Armenians have relatives that experienced the genocide, some were blessed enough to survive it. My paternal grandma's father lost his wife in the torture and miraculously managed to escape with his newborn son. There is a lot of information and research about the events online. For those interested, visit here and here and watch these.

The next picture was taken outside a building in Yerevan and documents an exciting moment for my parents. They’re standing in front of a building called Citadel. Doesn’t sound familiar? I didn’t think so. It’s only significant for people who watch this show. Mom and Dad have walked in the same place Anna visits.

Later that night, we infused a little culture into our lives by attending Spartak Ballet (Spartacus Ballet) at Yerevan’s legendary opera house. The building has a regal, opulent interior but looks a little aged. The place was packed – Armenians love the arts!
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Posted by NatalieSLC 05:22 Archived in Armenia Comments (0)

Sevana Lij (Lake Sevan)

We went to Lake Sevan with my dad’s cousin’s family. My parents and grandparents have talked about their visits to Sevan all my life. I’d always heard so much about Lake Sevan, it was cool to see it with my own eyes. The drive up reminded me of Utah’s landscape, and the lake itself is similar to Bear Lake (am I homesick already?).

We met my dad’s cousin’s kids and grandkids and spent most of the day with the daughter Margarita

Here’s my dad with his cousin Nuritse, whom he hadn't seen for about 30 years.

This is me with Nuritse’s two daughters and two grandkids at the lake.

One of the highlights of Lake Sevan is the centuries-old monastery that is on an “island.” The water has since receded and the monastery is now accessible by land.

Armenian monasteries house khachkarer (cross stones), which are ornately carved crosses in stone. Some of our group stopped in front of this display of khachkarer

These things are old! They’re so intricate and it’s said that no two are similar. Artisans paid careful attention to making them elaborate and unique.

Posted by NatalieSLC 07:35 Archived in Armenia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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