Armenia - Day 2

Sunday, June 15, 2008
The second day here is one of the most awesome days I've ever had.

Due to jetlag I still way overslept (I woke up at 1 pm!), but I still had time to go out and about. I started out with one of the main things I wanted to accomplish this trip: A visit to the Aram Khachaturian museum. Aram Khachaturian was an Armenian composer who wrote some of my favorite music. Most of you are probably familiar with the Sabre Dance from movies such as The Hudsucker Proxy.

Unfortunately nobody seemed to know much about it. Luckily I had an address and a cab driver took me to an unusual building with a small sign on it advertising the museum.

The museum was kind of funny in the fact that they didn't seem to get too many visitors, much less visitors who didn't speak any Russian or Armenian. I was the only visitor there the entire time, and the two people working there seemed a bit surprised somebody showed up.

After paying my 500 AMD (about $1.66), they took me to the various rooms, having to unlock all the doors and turn on lights as I went. They couldn't explain very much because they knew very little English, but I pretty much saw what I wanted. They had a score for Khachaturian's 3rd Symphony locked up which I desperately wanted to look at, but it wasn't going to happen.

Attached to the building was Khachaturian's house he had in Yerevan (he later moved to Moscow). It was neat seeing the master's study and actual piano he composed on. I bought a few postcards and poster that I don't really need and was on my way.

Next stop on my itinerary was the Cascade, which is a serious of steps (500, I believe) built into the side of a mountain, with fountains and sculptures on multiple levels on the way up. There is also a series of escalators which you can take.

When I arrived there, I ran into two Iranians who were seeing the city too. I joined them and their tour guide for the rest of the day. I enjoyed talking with them, and they were quite excited to talk to me too, as they wanted a chance to practice their English. We talked about a variety of subjects. One thing I found interesting: Their president is very unpopular right now too. Also, a majority of the residents don't want this nuclear power plant built that Mr. A. is so keen on. So much money is being diverted to building the power plant that their other infrastructure is suffering.

This is the Fat Cat statue, created by a Colombian artist. This was the first piece of art of many to grace the Cascade

My new found friends (nor their guide) didn't particularly want to go to the top of the Cascade, so instead we headed back down the hill to the Opera House.

After this, the others wanted to head back to their hotel room for a bit, so I continued on my own. I wanted to go to the top of the Cascade, but first, a quick detour to Museum of Ancient Manuscripts, which unfortunately was closed by the time I got to it. I hear it's a must-see, so I'm going to try to squeeze it in tomorrow. The building is still neat to see from the outside though.

Also known as the Matenadaran

And now onto the Cascade! I believe I took eight escalators total, one right after another. The view was very impressive from the top, but I could actually still go higher! Near the top of this hill was a park with the Mother Armenia monument. So off I went...

This originally had a statue of Stalin, but was replaced within days of his downfall with Mother Armenia

And now, I was finally high enough to get the view I wanted! The mountain in the distance is Mount Ararat, with its second peak off to the left. If you look really closely you can see the remains of Noah's Ark.

At this point I was exhausted, so I started back toward my hotel room. As I approached Republic Square, I noticed I could hear music blasting. Apparently they put on a light and fountain show every night. While not as closely choreographed as, say the fountain show at Bellagio, this one seemed more "genuine" to the crowd. The crowd danced as various American and Russian hit songs played, along with a few classical favorites. The show went on for a full hour and ended with the Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia by Khachturian. When I heard the opening notes of it, a shiver immediately went down my spine and through my whole body - this is what it feels like to be Armenian!

After the show ended, I took the opportunity to nail a few night shots of these buildings.

And I'm spent! Stay tuned for more adventures in Yerevan!


Cassie the Great said...

Everything sounds amazing. I can't even begin to tell you how jealous I am! Glad you had a wonderful time.

Marine said...

Hi, my name is Marineh. I am Armenia. I was really impressed by your post about Armenia. I found this blog accidentaly. I am very happy that you liked my country and my Yerevan...:-)

Dave said...

Hi Marineh, I really did enjoy Yerevan! I hope to visit again soon one day.