Saturday, July 8, 2017

[YEREVAN] Something Happened in Yerevan

Depression hit me hard last night. REALLY hard. It’s no longer a cause of alarm for me because I know that for every itinerary, it just looms, waiting for the opportune time to strike. For this trip, it chose yesterday evening. The good thing about knowing yourself well is you already know what measures for damage control to apply. In this case I knew that I won’t be getting any sleep and consequently I would have to cancel Kotayk tomorrow. Sorry, Garni and Geghard. I guess I’ll just see you both next time.

I haven’t really documented my stay in Yerevan yet in terms of photos and videos. I’ve been strolling in the streets for the last two days and been seeing some interesting landmarks but that’s about it. It’s just a stroll. Given how I suddenly have all the time in the world today, I started with a requisite pick-me-up. I already hit rock bottom yesterday, I need something feel-good to make sure that I guide myself back up. Spider-Man: Homecoming it is then! Boarding Tram #1, I arrived at Yerevan Mall after half an hour.

Surprise! They only have it in Russian. I would have insisted on watching it if it were a standalone flick, but it’s part of the MCU. Given how my Russian is still in its infancy, I’ll definitely miss all the important details in the dialogues. And so I headed to the food court instead for some good old KFC strips. After that, I crossed the street to see the main train station, whose entrance is apparently on the other side. That explains why the side I entered felt like some random backyard with parked buses.

The other side is cool. You get to see the façade of the building and there’s also a guy on a horse, except that the horse is wild and the guy is looking all cool and shit trying not to fall off its back. It’s a welcome change from all the guy-on-a-horse monuments where both subjects are gamely posing as if they were doing an equestrian commercial or something. The metro has a stop there, it’s the main train station after all. The stations are well-designed but rather underwhelming compared to those in other ex-Soviet cities.

The lady guard saw me snapping a photo and warned me not to but I was already on the top of the escalator. What’s the big deal? If you designed your metro stations in plain white and boring hues then there won’t be a reason for us to take photos, no? I don’t see the point of decorating it with good art if you don’t want anyone to appreciate it. The train took a while to arrive but the trip to the city center didn’t take fifteen minutes. It was just two or three stops. My stop was called Republic Square.

There’s a huge fountain and an old building or two waiting for you as you exit the station. The guard here is not as sensitive and strict. Walk up to the surface and you end up at a park with various artefacts displayed in open air. They seem like legit slabs of religious art unearthed from centuries past. You also have a monument of some important historical figure with an imposing building in the background. It must be nice to hang around here after the sun sets. Otherwise, you’re in for some impromptu tan.

A few cartwheels away and you’ll end up at Republic Square itself where some good old Neo-Classical architecture will be waiting for you. I particularly liked the Houses of Government with the clock on it. It makes up for the lack of color of the art gallery which also has an impressive façade albeit a bit monotonous. This one has fountains and a giant pool in front of it. Or is that a bad thing especially during freakishly hot afternoons? It makes you want to jump into it to seek refuge from the heat.

This area is not tourist central per se but still attracts a number of camwhores. I suggest a stroll in the afternoon to avoid the sun. The Marriott is located here if you feel like splurging. Walk towards Grigor Lusavorich to see the city hall which is a cool piece of architecture although not at all that jaw-dropping. You'll also see some monuments here and there as well as a large museum that I never bothered to visit anymore because I just don’t dig museums.

But I think the Cascades are what you shouldn’t miss if you ever find yourself in Yerevan. Located a few blocks away from the Opera House, the Cascade is perhaps the city’s most famous tourist attraction. Basically, you have what appears to be a never-ending set of steps adorned with exquisite fountains and various sculptures that range from common all the way to downright weird. The high elevation guarantees a cool breeze and the constant sound of trickling water gives off a semblance of peace and harmony.

You can go all the way to the top where there is supposed to be some sort of important national monument, or so they say. I didn’t go all the way up because I was already satisfied with what I saw. It could have been a perfect choice of a hangout place if I wasn’t feeling so down. In any case, I think going all the way up is not a bad proposition because the panoramic view of the city down below must be amazing. As for me, I just needed to sulk for a bit again, which meant my Armenia tour ended right there.

[YEREVAN] Something Happened in Yerevan

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