A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about cascades

Day thirty-three - last day in Yerevan

Saturday 28 September 2019

rain 22 °C

Shopping mission

My last full day in Armenia was going to be focused on shopping. I’d seen a craft fair advertised by the Cascades so headed there after breakfast. The stalls had lovely handmade goods made by the variety of different craftspeople. I priced things up so that I could withdraw enough cash, I didn’t want lots of drams on my hands just as I was about to leave.

The Fem library

Close to the Cascades is the Fem library where my niece volunteered. Having met two women on my travels who had strong connections with it, I really wanted to visit and say hello. To ensure it remains a safe space, the place is not signposted but I managed to find it and was shown around by one of the women who uses the space. As well as the library of feminist fiction and non-fiction, there is a meeting space, kitchen and chill out area where they’d just been running a yoga class. A very calm and safe space.

Downpours

It was threatening rain so I walked back to the hotel, and had a rest whilst sheltering from what became an incredibly heavy downpour. When it stopped, I had a late lunch at Eat:Fit. Totally delicious roasted quinoa salad which would not go amiss at a Bristol hipster cafe. Always good to have a respite from starchy carbs. I wandered back to the craft fair prepared to make my purchases and the whole thing had been disbanded. The gazebos probably couldn’t cope with such heavy rain.

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Vernissage

Vernissage, the street market close to Republic Square, has more stalls at the weekend. In amongst the usual touristy stuff there is some lovely handcrafted crafts and artwork. For a change I took a different route walking east past the Yerevan puppet theatre until the end of Sayat Nova, then through the circular park until I reached the market. As I got there people were starting to pack things away. Not sure where the day had gone but I had managed to achieve very little. My plans to do shopping were unravelling but I didn’t want to panic buy so decided to buy gifts elsewhere on my travels.

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Getting ready to leave

Back at the hotel, I packed up my bag before heading out to Byblos, a Lebanese restaurant around the corner from the hotel. Had a delicious eggplant in tahini cold dish, as recommended by the waiter, with tabouleh salad and mint tea. A very nice last meal.

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As I had to be up early at 2.30am, I had an early night in the hope that I could a few hours sleep before my very early morning flight to Istanbul.

Posted by Cath_Greig 05:42 Archived in Armenia Tagged markets cascades yerevan armenia Comments (0)

Day twenty-four - visiting friends

Thursday 20 September 2019

sunny 30 °C

Planning my route

I’d been invited to lunch by a friend who lives north of Yerevan’s Victory Park. I was going to get a taxi but looking at the map, her apartment looked as if it was within walking distance if taken in stages. It was going to be another hot day so thought I’d take my time. First stop was the Santafe cafe near the Cascade Complex for a coffee and violet lemonade. Although I always carry water it‘s good to keep the fluids up.

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The price of coffee

On the subject of coffee - I have found the prices range widely from 350 to 1,200 drams. The cheapest so far has been at Marilda’s, a locals cafe, with the Marriott being the most expensive. The cafes near the tourist attractions are generally around 800-900 dram.

The Cascades Monument

I chickened out of walking up the Cascades and took the escalators so that I only had to walk a short distance to the top. It was already 26C and I still had quite a lot of walking to do. There is a walkway at the top of the completed cascades that leads to the Charles Aznavour museum,. And from there, you can walk up the road to another viewing platform and monument. Between the Cascades and this viewpoint, unfinished building works can be seen which, I assume, have halted due to lack of funds.

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There is a much better view of the city from the platform - I’m not sure why I’ve never been up to it before. Next to the monument there’s a building which has no signage but Armenian writing on it. Apparently it’s a memorial to those who died during the Stalin years. Close by was a group of strange statues/artwork - not sure how to describe them. They look as if they might be scenes from children’s stories but they are quite random and verging on the bizarre.

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Victory Park

I’d been worried about crossing the road to get to Victory Park but there was an underground pedestrian way right by the gates. Last time I came here was 9 years ago when we went on the Ferris Wheel and rowed round the lake. It’s a sizeable amusement park - lots of children’s rides - too numerous to mention. There are also a lot of minion themed attractions like the bouncy castle and inflatable slides so they must be big here, too.

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Close by the Ferris wheel is the Mother Armenia monument. It’s a pretty impressive statue with a military museum at the bottom and tanks and other military stuff outside - none of which has any interest for me. There are also great views over the city from this vantage point but it was far too hazy to see Ararat.

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To get my bearings, I walked down to the lake as I hoped there would be an exit onto Azatutyan street as I needed to walk up there to meet my friend Hasmik. It was time to rehydrate so stopped at the Venice cafe near the lake to rest in the shade and enjoyed a refreshing mint and thyme tea. I gave myself 20 minutes to walk up the hill. By this time it was over 30C so quite a slog. I’d under-estimated the time needed to get to the meeting place. it was hot and the road on a slight incline. I had to quicken the pace but as I neared our meeting point, I felt a tap on my shoulder a& there was Hasmik.

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Time with friends

I spent a fun afternoon with Hasmik’s family. Her sister, who had organised our last two visits for us, was there with her three children - all of whom are under four. They are quite a handful, bursting with energy. Hasmik had made some great food. She is experimenting with different dishes and her sweet/sour plums with cheese were delicious. Boiled eggs stuffed with walnuts, eggplant salad as well as red pepper and parsley salad together with bread. Needless to say, there was also cake - Armenians like desserts. Fruit, too. We also had a couple of glasses of Armenian muscat wine which made me sleepy as I don’t normally drink in the day.

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The entrance to the apartment is quite shabby, like most Armenian blocks. However, inside it was very spacious and light. Hasmik herself had redesigned the layout and decor. She’s done a good job.

Wending my way back home

As evening came Hasmik had to go to work so she gave me a lift to the top of the Cascades. I don’t know how anyone can drive in the city - it’s like a race track with a dog eat dog mentality. Driving around cities like London feels like a walk in the park in comparison. It was nice strolling back as the air cooled. Although it was a silhouette, Ararat looked particularly close in the fading light. I walked back via Moskovyan then cut down Aram Street, through the park. Lots of families out and about, watching the water fountains and enjoying the cooler air.

Although I wasn’t particularly hungry, I ate a few leftovers, had a beer and carried on reading my historical novel, by C J Samson. I can’t help thinking that UK remainers could take a leaf out of the Kett uprising in Norwich and organise something similar. I’m trying not to get too depressed about what is happening in the UK at the moment, otherwise I just won’t be able to sleep.

Posted by Cath_Greig 07:52 Archived in Armenia Tagged food friends coffee cascades yerevan Comments (0)

Day twenty - heading for the Cascades

Sunday 15 September 2019

26 °C

The Cascade Complex

I started by exploring close to the apartment. It’s within a complex of houses bordered by Mashtots, Zakyan, Khorenatsi and Grigor Lusavorich Streets. It isn’t in the heart of the tourist area so feels more local. Everything I need is within the vicinity including an excellent fruit shop two minutes away. Although I got up a bit later than planned, my first tourist destination was the Cascades, probably my favourite part of the city. On the way I found a group of statues commemorating four Armenian actors who starred in a popular comedy “The Men”. There are lots of statues in Yerevan.

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Lots of public art

I’m not sure how many steps there are in the Cascades but it’s a long way to the top with minimal shade. The views of the city, and if you are lucky, Mount Ararat, are well worth the clamber up. Within the Cascades is the Cafesjian Centre for the Arts that houses art works from a variety of artists, mainly international. For those that can’t make it up the exterior steps to the top, there is an escalator inside that takes you most of the way up. A treasure trove of Contemporary art can be seen as you travel up the escalator and can also been seen in the gardens at the bottom. All of this is completely free but the shop and internal galleries are only open Friday to Sunday.

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Healthy Lunch

Although I’d made myself a coffee in the morning at the apartment, I needed to have another and found the Kaziriok cafe serving good coffee in the cutest cups. Next stop was lunch - I had a list of ‘go to’ places recommended by my niece Elly but today I wanted to try the Eat, Fit cafe on Aram Street. It was so on trend, it even listed the amount of calories on the menu. I had buckwheat noodles with avocado which was totally delicious, together with a cooling mint lemonade.

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Running out of steam

I intended to try and get to the Children’s Railway via the underground tunnel at the end of Aram Street. The whole area looked pretty abandoned and one tunnel was blocked off. I decided to find out a bit more about it first before venturing any further. The nearby park had some public art - objects and statues covered in what looked like AstroTurf.

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As I was still recovering from the train journey and the heat, I went for a siesta and then ventured out later to get some salads from the deli at the SAS supermarket for my evening meal. I realised that it was my third day of no alcohol so promised myself that I would get some beer or have a glass of wine at the local wine bar. But not today - a catch up on my book and more sleep were top of my to do list. As I settled down a storm that had been brewing all day, erupted with rain, thunder and lightening. Didn’t disturb me when I went to bed though.

Posted by Cath_Greig 09:44 Archived in Armenia Tagged food statues coffee cascades yerevan cafesjian Comments (0)

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