Hallo der ute - her er hjemmesiden min!

Diary – 2nd Day in Armenia – Hayastan

Morten and myself got up really early in order to find our way to Yerevan Pandok, the restaurant where I had reserved dinner and dancing for 21 pax the same evening. I very soon realized that having a basic knowledge of the Armenian language  is mandatory if you want be a tour leader. And I’ m not gonna brag about my approximately 238 words and expressions that I have meorized, but the point is – finding a restaurant where only Armenian letters appear on the sign, and trying to get information out of the early risers, proved next to impossible – unless I pulled myself together and remembered where is…… vortegh e in Armenian. And so I asked up to ten people the same question. Not so much because I didn’t understand the direction they pointed to, but rather because I thought it was fun to impress Morten who uttered. wow, actually you have a communicative competence in Armenian. Easy of course to impress the one who doesn’t know a single word in Armenian. Anyway, we passed the restaurant several times, running up and down Teryian Street. Obviously my brain must have ben switched to position “off”, because I did not see Pandok on any sign anywhere. That was until I stood at the door and asked a lady – Vortegh e Pandok? She smiled with her one tooth, and if it weren’t for her ears she would have made the smile last until her lips met at the back of her head. And I realized my stupid mistake. Of course, they’re not gonna write Pandok using our alphabet – It was written in capital letters in the MESROPIAN ONE –  the Armenian alphabet. There I saw it, and yes I was able to understand each and every one of them.

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To tell you the truth, by now I have finally learned all 39 letters, cause I bought a children’s book in Yerevan and spent every one minute spare time to learn and to memorize. So actually – a good thing trying to find the way to the Pandok.

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At nine o’clock we were ready for Nackachash (Breakfast), lots and lots of Armenian food, including all kinds of fruits and Armenian coffee. So, at 11 we all gathered. I counted the participants, and we went off to the Armenian equivalent of The Vatican State. Our local guide Ripsime Baladyan is a real angel, a real hero and the best guid I have ever met. She expalined everything on the way and kept guiding us through all kinds of stories and facts of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the founder – George the Iluminator, the apostles,  Batholomew and Taddeus, the churches, the monasteries, how the church works, what it means to the Armenians and so on. Echimiadzin is a beautiful place with khatchkars everywhere, beautiful church (actually the first one in the world), and a monastery.

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I bought lots of candles an lit them, the way Armenians do – each one leaving a small prayer or a wish to Asvats – God, one for the return of Mount Ararat, another for the return of Lake Van, a third for Artsakh and a fourth for letting me live for lots and lots of years in order to keep working for Armenia and the Armenians.

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Just one fact. George the Illuminator Grigor Lusavorich who actually christened Armenia and made King TrdatII make Armenia the first Christian nation on earth. Grigor went to Echmiadzin and there he saw Jesus descend for Heaven surrounde by a golden light. He had a hammer in his hand, and he hit the ground with it. On the spot something ignited – and this is where the first Cathedral of the world was built. Parts of it is still kept by its original materials. Go figure!

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After Echmiadzin we had lunch in a village. Delicious food, and to tell you the truth, I had no idea how delicious Armenian food really is. Last year I had no time to worry about eating, since I had to see as much of  Armenia as possible, so Armen, my driver, and myself just grabbed some chicke, some fruits and some lavash that we consumed in the car. So, in order to convince people to go to Hayastan, I actually just presumed the food was great, and yes…… told some white lies about it, since I actually had no idea.

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The white lies were as a matter of fact no lies, but rather an understatement. The tables were full of all kinds of cold dishes, vegetarian as well as meat, three kinds of bread, including lavash – exciting variations of species – and not to forget: Food in masses. Then, when we all thought we were full, they served the main dish for lunch: Different meats soaked in herbs, fried potatoes and tomato sauce with garlic. Garrejour (beer) – Kilika – and red and white wines (karmir yev spitak gini) – form the best Armenian wine producer – Karas made the picture complete. Just amazing!

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After lunch, everyone, especially my aunt Lea Maria needed to go to the zugaran (toilet). Lea Maria goes to the toilet a lot by the way, and she made our trip even more memorable by actuelly infecting the rest of us with the urge to pea anywhere and at any time during our bus rides. We took off to the Cathedral of Zvartnots with a great view of Mount Ararat and then went back to Yerevan and our hotel.

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Half an hour to rest, and the Svennie offered a lecture on the Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks from 1915 – 1922, and still desperately denied by Turkey and Azerbaijan today. You cannot go to Armenia not being aware of this extremely tragic event that still goives a strong mark to Armenians world-wide. It was actually a good idea to do it the first day, because day 3 included a visit to the Genocide Memorial and the Genocide Museum.

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At 7 we went off to Yerevan Pandok, and if there had been any doubts in any one mind of the people in my group, this took away the last one of them. First thing – they have women baking lavash live at the entrance.

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Then I got to choose all kinds of starters and the all kinds of khorovats – grilled meat and fish, then the wine and the the beer. I actually talked to all the waiters using my now 320 Armenian words, and so four of them became  Facebookaxpers (friends) as the evening progressed.

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Three Armenian friends, one whom I’ve only met in Facebook came to say hello, and the rest of the evening was one tremendous celebration with music, duduk, song and lots and lots of dancing – folk dances and our own dancing.

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