New Friends, Armenian Dance, and the 3 Most Memorable Moments this Month: Our Last Day in Yerevan
We spent most of our last day in Yerevan in transit, flying back from our short vacation in Iran. When we got in around 2PM, I realized that I only had a few hours left in the city that had become somewhat of a second home to me.
We decided to spend our last afternoon at our favorite coffee shop, Le Café de Paris. On one of our first explorations into the city we had decided to try the crêpes, and after discovering that they had amazing iced cappuccinos, we kept coming back. As I drank my last coffee in Yerevan, my eyes wandered to watch the tourists on North Avenue, many who were experiencing the city for the first time. I remembered my first encounter with Yerevan, a whirlwind day of new sites and tourist attractions. I left with the feeling you get when you meet somebody new and exciting, a curiosity to know the city better, and a longing to come back.
Over the past month, Yerevan had become like an old friend to me. I had met so many of the fantastic people that make Yerevan the amazing place it is, and I had seen so much of its streets and sites. I knew the area around our hotel so well that I didn’t even need Google maps anymore. I had walked through Republic Square so many times that I almost took it for granted as I passed through it for the last time on my way back to the hotel. As I passed the big fountain, however, I was reminded of the time a little boy pushed me into it on Vardavar, and the music and light shows that take place there every night, especially the one where they decided to play the Star Wars theme song.
We had spent many of our Yerevan nights enjoying the music and light shows in Republic Square, but tonight was something different. Hayk was taking us to Parvana, one of many places in Armenia that acts as a cross between a restaurant and a nightclub. We ordered pork khorovats (Armenian barbecue), and Hayk introduced us to his friends Vruyr, Hayarpi, and Artur. He then asked each of us what our three most memorable things on the trip were. I didn’t really answer his question then, so I will attempt to do so now:
My Three Most Memorable Times in Armenia
1) Visiting Aygepar. It was heartbreaking to see the hardship that the Azerbaijani soldiers are causing by shooting on innocent men, women, and especially children, but it was also incredibly inspiring to meet the people who choose to stay in their homes and protect their village. The people of Aygepar gave us a warm welcome, and it was absolutely humbling to see the bravery, optimism, and love that was in their hearts even though they are put in a life and death situation every day.
2) Visiting Shushi. We were introduced to Shushi by our wonderful hosts, Saro and Hasmik. Saro showed us around the city, telling us the stories behind its doors, gates, and ruined buildings, and showed us the geological museum, which he directs. We learned more about the history of Shushi, from Ashot, who directs the history museum, and is devoted to preserving and sharing the history of his city. We also met two young couples who are restoring some of the city’s old ruined buildings to build their homes in. And, of course, my memory of Shushi wouldn’t be complete with the amazing dinners cooked for us by Hasmik, who makes the best dolma I’ve ever eaten.
3) Vardavar. How could I forget wandering through Yerevan, soaked from head to toe, scanning warily for the next person to dump water on? It’s not every day that you get thrown into multiple fountains, or, in Anahit’s case, a grandma exclaims “Sirun es!” (“You’re beautiful!”) as she dumps a full bucket of water down your back. We got to see how people were celebrating in three different parts of the city, and it was a nice break from our working schedule.
I suppose the fourth most memorable thing was our night at Parvana. We would stop eating every time an upbeat Armenian song came on, and try to follow along as Hayarpi and Vruyr (two of Hayk’s friends) tried to teach us new dance steps. Then the Iranian tourists started requesting Iranian pop songs (which are much more like American pop songs), and we convinced Hayarpi, Vruyr, and Hayk to dance with us to those as well.
We danced until after midnight, when we had to finish packing up, and go to the airport for our 4:45 AM flight. As I sat on the airplane, watching the lights of my beloved city disappear, I remembered our last knatz (a long, heartfelt Armenian toast) at Parvana, when we drank to old friends and new friends, to our love for our motherland, and to the incredible month we had spent together, and our continuing journey.
For more information on Parvana, check out TripAdvisor https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g293932-d4179859-Reviews-Parvana-Yerevan.html
Parvana's Website, only in Armenian http://parvana.info.am
Address: Hrazdan River Ravine, Yerevan 0013, Armenia