Beyond-beautiful Armenia: A vacay within a vacay

Travels allow me to expand my horizon; broaden my perspective and make me enjoy the diversity of adventure rides and long walks on plains, hills and mountains. Thus, enjoy new cuisines of various places & meet faces from different races.

Traveling with family is more fun and interesting.

Simply put, travels make me & everyone HAPPY.

Since year 2009, travels to local and national arena started to take off and year 2012 was a swooning year as it brought me to two international trips; HongKong – with Southpoint School admin and faculty and to Singapore with our 4th year HS students.

Henceforth, those two trips opened doors to more local, national and international travels.

Visits to UAE, Japan, thrice to Singapore, Vietnam, Bali, back to UAE were worth all my time and effort.

Then Armenia. A trip that brought me to life’s profundities.

In a nutshell, Armenia for me is…

A-mazingly

R-emarkable with all its Natural Gifts: mountains, hills, valleys, 

 plains, beaches and lakes

M-eaningfully archaic & antique with all its centuries-old churches, temples

 and monasteries; it’s widely known for its delectable and 

E-nergy-boosting, yummy & healthylicious food, meat, juices and wine; as

 it gallantly offers the 

N-oble character and

I-nterconnecting love and warmth of the people

<3 <3 <3 <3 

In Armenia on Love Day

DAY 1:

February 14, 2020 marked the date when we first set foot in Armenia, (second for Melanie though). It’s more than a 3-hour flight from Dubai.

It was freezing cold. Streets, roofs, trees, plants, & almost everything were covered with snow.

Armenia is situated in southwestern Asia, bordered by Azerbaijan to the east, Turkey to the west, Iran to the south and Georgia to the north.

In all honesty, I haven’t really known much of this country as I only heard it in passing or at times, during Ms. Universe or other pageants.

The place isn’t really that pretty interesting at first glance especially that our old yet still strong driver, (to avoid traffic congestion from the airport), made us pass through the slum area where old & a bit creepy houses and other structures were laid bare before our very eyes.

On the contrary, Armenia is far too beautiful to describe with words and shots even of cameras with the best lens cannot fully capture the magnificence of its exuberant natural beauty.

It’s a laid-back country but it has its own grandiosity specifically on the outskirts and mountainsides.

Our hearts were warmed by the hospitality of the people that catered to our needs, notwithstanding some frauds at the Republic Square.

Gaily & inquisitively, we strolled down the busy streets of Armenia looking for food. Our steps led us to a rustic underground restaurant. After the first serving, we still waited for the best part of our lunch – veal with pasta. The 40-minute waiting time was all worth it.

Valentine’s Night was spent in a classic restaurant – The Old House with antics, rustic ambiance & great live music & warm crew. I was personally impressed by a lady crew with a smart & gorgeous countenance even at her seemingly mature age. We had an array of meat, salad, and great wine.

Visiting their Republic Square was such a delightful thing with all its splendid lights and the giant clock at the Minister’s building. Frolicking in the snow was such a delight. It was a WHITE Valentines Day!

DAY 2:

Temple of Garni, Geghard Monastery & Lake Sevan 

The road to the mountains & valleys surrounding the Temple of Garni made me think of great movies. It’s mystery-filled. I was in a way speechless. The serenity and tranquility of the temple brought so much peace.

Geghard Monastery was remarkably magnificent with its spirit of antiquity. Standing on a quaint & eccentrically-designed monastery carved into a rock is heart-warming and melting.

We entered into a narrow & sort of a cave that ushered us to an old monastery that has a flowing healing water. At its center is the Wishing Well where coins have been tossed for individuals’ wishes and prayers.

What’s amazing are the pine trees at the entrance that have withstood winter time. Most of them still have leaves. Can’t help but HUGged one…in great gratitude for the privilege of having visited the centuries-old monastery.

As we posed for some photos on a big rock I felt that I was lost in space-such lightness, such awesomeness as boulders stand as sentinels to secure the space.

The last destination of the day was Lake Sevan.

Lake Sevan is 6,234 feet above sea level. It’s the largest body of water in Armenia in the Caucasus region. The terrain is quite manageable; food was delectable and the restaurant crew was so warm.

It was a well-spent afternoon with the huge smiling sun, the gallant sea with waves literally dancing at the command of the cold wind. A little portion of the shoreline wasn’t covered with snow so I picked one pebble for remembrance.

The climb to Sevanavank Monastery (one of the most visited sights in Armenia) was a great challenge on my part in terms of latitude in addition to the -7° temperature. I thought it was beyond my capacity to cope. From time to time I would stop and gasp for air but have to cover my nose and mouth. As I reached the top, I felt my shaking body and the gnashing of teeth, nevertheless happy and awed of the picturesque land and waterscapes

My heartfelt gratefulness goes to Gemgem for her assistance. She walked with me in going up and down from the monastery. I felt the hand of an angel and a daughter, helping me. And how can I ever forget the Armenia gloves she paid for me at the souvenir shop.

DAY 3: 

Tsagkadzhor Ski Resort

Our cable ride to and from the mountain ski resort was beyond awesome with the breathtaking showcase of the glorious wonders of Tsagkadhzor. Riding the cable car gave snippets of wisdom in the flow of life. Once an opportunity comes, hop and sit at once and learn to enjoy the ride notwithstanding the circumstances. Despite the shaking hands due to the cold temperature, we managed to enjoy the high space clicking our phone for photos and videos. 

A piece of advice though, use thermal gloves for sure grip of phones or cameras.

The fun-filled day made individuals, families, and friends bond happily and untiringly. Another panoramic view on top allowed me to stand in awe of the greatness of the Divine Creator that caused everything around to thrive and flourish. Seeing the freezing rivers and seawater and the snow-covered plains, valleys, hills and mountains showcase the extravagance of His love for humanity and His sustaining power, giving balance to the eco-system. I stood in deep wonder and gratitude for all the natural gifts surrounding us.

DAY 4: 

Khor Virap, Areni & Noravank Monastery

This day, February 17, Micah, Gemgem & I jubilated on our FIRST snowfall experience. Our hearts danced with much happiness, seeing and enjoying the trickling and dwindling snow all over us painted a big smile on our faces.

Khor Virap was our first stop…one of the historical churches in Armenia. We lit candles to send light to ourselves and the world.

We made snowballs and Olaf. The snowfall did not stop us from exploring the place.

With the guidance of Arman, inquisitiveness brought us down to the little space with more or less thirty (30) very steep steps, slightly leaning away from the wall. Down the narrow space used to live (centuries back) an Illuminati who survived for thirteen years with only a piece of bread and a glass of water every day. It must be a miracle!

The visit to the Winery allowed us to taste different home-made wines. Consequently, we bought a number of bottles and other souvenirs.

Our lunch was in a very homey house-turned-restaurant whose owners warmly welcomed us. The wife prepared healthy-yummylicious Armenian dishes from corn and chicken together with veggies and natural tomato sauce and fruit juice. The served wine was coming from the barrels in the aforementioned resto. We felt so much the energy of love in the said place.

Noravank Church was supposed to be our last destination. It is carefully erected on top of the mountain. We were constrained though on our way up by the slippery and thick snow-covered road.

Three of our company had the whole snow-covered road for themselves as they savored the moment clicking their camera.

Good thing I had a great distant shot with the church “literally on my head,” courtesy of Arman.

Best of all, we Thank God for our driver’s driving skill that was proven and tested in that area where there seemed to have no space for backing or turning around on a slippery road. More so in our going back to the city with all its twists and turns in the long slippery sloping way down the mountains with zero visibility. As everybody was asleep, I never stopped praying for our safety and for His hand to be with our driver.

Special gratitude goes to our driver-Arman (whose name was impressed to me after a full moon gratitude time, five days before we flew to Armenia) He was our ever willing photographer-videographer, interpreter & guide. His multiple-roles were contributory factors on the success of our tour. We were his first tour guests.

We learned that he also teaches left-hand and right-hand driving. His military training must have added to his physical stamina in the course of guiding us.

He also helps in the woodwork business of the family. He brought us several quality-wooden items and we’re more than happy to have bought some items, going home to three different destinations, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Philippines.

On our 2nd day of the tour, his father gave each of us (six) Wooden Pomegranate pendants followed by souvenir pens on our last day of tour. How loving and thoughtful of his father. May their business continue to prosper.

It was on the last night before flying back to Dubai that I braced myself to look for little souvenir items. I experienced frauds along my way but decided to be courageous. I managed to find the place – Vernissage thru his voice instruction (literally an angel coming from heaven to guide me). His friends in Alda Shop warmly accommodated me as I also got discounts for the items. They made mention that Arman is the system’s programmer of the said shop.

The added information (aside from my little research) provided by him served as a great guide in writing this blog.

Our Armenia exit tour (for Micah & me) was beyond my wildest imagination, beyond my wildest dreams.

Should I be given the chance to visit Armenia again, I would love to… 

into the UNKNOWN….and maybe proceed to Georgia.

My sincerest & deepest GRATITUDE to Hannah & James for such an unforgettable travel with them, Keona, Melanie, Micah and Gemgem.

To HIM who made everything beautiful be glory, thanksgiving & praises.

Armenia, you are indeed…beyond-BEAUTIFUL!!!!

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