My first meeting with Engineering city (my volunteer placement) was initially planned for today but got cancelled yesterday, so all of a sudden I had a day off. Conveniently, so did Leo who doesn’t start until tomorrow. So we decided to use the day to explore the city together.
Apparently it had been heavy rains and thunder during the night but I had slept like a log and didn’t hear a thing. I woke up after a full night of good sleep and had some yoghurt breakfast together with my host who made me some herbal tea that she had picked and dried herself from the mountains in Armenia. She helped me figure out how GG works, a taxi-app in Yerevan, and I ordered a car to pick me up and drive me to Republic square where Leo and I was supposed to meet up. The driver that picked me up didn’t say hello and gave a grumpy impression, and I had the feeling that he wouldn’t know any english at all. But when we arrived at the square he turned to me with impressive english and asked where I wanted to drop me off. He also said I could keep the extra 100 dram (2 SEK) I didn’t have change for. It all went incredibly smooth with the app and it is so nice to not have to worry about being ripped of by cab driver (as one always is abroad otherwise).
Leo and I found each other in a street corner at the square, and I realised how much I had missed him when being apart for more than 24 hours. Living together in Sweden and then living almost on each other for 5 days travelling made these 24 hours seem extremely lonely. I was glad I had the whole day together with him.
We started walking where our noses pointed and strolled up and down the streets, passing by Leo’s volunteer placement Armeriabank, said Hi! at the AVC/Birthright office, passed by the Cascade, the Opera, the luxury avenues and much more. What struck us as a first impression is that it is much cleaner and more “decorated” than we had expected. One could think that a country with poor economic history would’ve looked more worn down, but there where small details everywhere that really made the inner city a cute and almost romantic place. Plenty of benches to rest your legs on, parks and trees, small local shops, colourful wall paintings, balconies and small decors on door posts and windows. Not everywhere of course, it was all mixed with this raw, cheap Soviet era-type of architecture and I’m pretty sure it is more polished where we were in the city centre than in the outskirts. But this mix really appealed to me and I’m so looking forward to getting to know the city better. Also, to both of our content, Leo understands the Armenian accent much better than he thought he would with his Iranian background and I found that there’s much more english than I had expected so I can get around.
I had hopes of tasting some real Armenian street food during our exploration walk but somehow we ended up having everything but Armenian food; frappucino and lemon pie, Italian pasta, American coffee and finally burger with fries. The burger was mostly because it started to pour outside and no cab was available for me to take back home. So we decided to have a quick dinner at the nearest place to get out of the rain and it happened to be a burger/steak place unfortunately. But as Leo said, we have three months to try out Armenian food, we will have time to taste everything and likely also get tired of some of it. I guess its good then that we now have a really nice pasta place to go to, because that spinach ravioli I had for lunch was one the best I’ve tasted. Who would’ve known there’s great Italian food in Yerevan?
Now I’m back home and relaxing, snacking on some delicious macadamia nuts that we bought today (side note: there are specialty stores selling so many different kinds of nuts and dried fruits here, it’s like a dream coming true – I’m going to be their most frequent customer (and also I’m going to be so fat)). I’m planning an early night because tomorrow things are starting for real, with orientation day and my first official meeting with the AVC organisation. Really looking forward to hearing more about the details of the program, and also to meeting other volunteers and starting my everyday life here in Yerevan.
Wasn’t in a photography-mode today so have no images to show all that I’m writing about above, but at least there’s an image of a nice wall painting that I fell in love with. The lion is a cool statue made of sliced car tires that just look so much cooler in real life.