Delicate Flavor of Armenia-9 days / 8 nights
Arrival. Meet and greet at the airport. Transfer to the hotel. Check-in formalities at the hotel. Overnight at a hotel in Yerevan.
After breakfast at the hotel, we will get acquainted with the ancient city of Yerevan. The city earned the name “pink city” thanks to the pink tuff, which is the main ingredient in the construction of the buildings. We will head from the Republic Square surrounded by the government buildings, Marriott Hotel and History Museum; continue along the most famous Abovyan Street and through the richest Northern Avenue to get to the Opera House with a stop at the Swan Lake. We will head to the depository of ancient Armenian manuscripts called Matenadaran. The depository contains numerous valuable items among them the oldest parchment book that is the Gospel of Lazarus written in 887, as well as the heaviest Armenian manuscript, weighing 34 kilograms. We will learn about “cochineal” worms and aromatic plants and roots that grow only in the Armenian Highland. They are used to prepare wholesome “Royal Balm,” floral teas, and rejuvenating, anti-aging skin oils used by “noble women” in the Middle Ages. We will also see ingredients that were used to make natural dyes and the Holy Myrrh. Lunch tasting our traditional dish “ghapama” - an Armenian stuffed pumpkin dish, often prepared during the holiday season. It is prepared by removing the guts of the pumpkin and stuffing it with boiled rice and a variety of dried fruits such as chopped almonds, apple, cornel, apricot, prunes and raisins. Continue the tourvisiting Yerevan Brandy Factory to taste delicate Armenian high-quality cognac and learn about the techniques of cognac making. An undocumented anecdote claims that during the Yalta Conference, Winston Churchill was so impressed with the Armenian brandy Dvin given to him by Joseph Stalin that he asked for several cases of it to be sent to him each year. Reportedly 400 bottles of Dvin were shipped to Churchill annually. This brandy was named in honor of the ancient capital Dvin, and was first produced in 1943. Welcome dinner with dances and music at a local tavern or restaurant. Here we will try a local comfort soup among many other items. Overnight at a hotel in Yerevan.
After breakfast at the hotel visit Tsitsernakaberd Memorial and the Genocide Museum, both devoted to the victims of the Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman Empire in 1915. During these mass killings more than 1.5 million people were massacred and even more spread all around the world, forming a huge Armenian Diaspora. Proceed to Garni Temple, the only surviving pagan temple in the territory of Caucasus. Lunch tasting traditional Armenian dishes at a local house-garden. Master clabaking and barbeque making in the underground oven “tonir”. Enjoying a traditional refreshing healthy drink of “tan” (a sour milk drink prepared by diluting the Armenian yogurt with cold water) will be much more pleasant in the hot weather. Proceed to the magnificent monastic complex of Geghard, which is inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Return to Yerevan with a stop at the Food Market, where we can buy local vegetables, fruits, dairy products and so on. Dinner at a local tavern orrestaurant to taste a traditional dish “spas” - soup made from tan (Armenian yoghurt drink) or sometimes from matsun (Armenian variety of plain yoghurt) with sour-cream. Overnight at a hotel in Yerevan.
After breakfast at the hotel start tour to Echmiadzin, the holy city of Armenia. Visit the Holy See of Armenian Catholicos, Echmiadzin with its main Cathedral (4 th century), St. Gayane (7 th century), St. Hripsime (7 th century). All of them are inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. According to scholars, Echmiadzin Mother Cathedral is the oldest cathedral (not the oldest church) in Armenia and one of the oldest cathedrals around the world. Master class and lunch tasting traditional “kufta” (meatballs) in a traditional environment at an art school. Drive back to Yerevan with a stop at the ruins of Zvartnots Temple or Church of the Guardian Angel (7 th century). The latter is also inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Dinner with dances and music at a local tavern or restaurant. Overnight at a hotel in Yerevan.
After breakfast at the hotel, we will drive to Khor Virap Monastery. Here we can enjoy the most amazing view to Mt. Ararat, and then enter the deep pit where Gregory the Illuminator was jailed for long 13 years for disseminating Christianity in Armenia. Proceed to the gorgeous Noravank Monastery passing through high picturesque rocks. Lunch tasting traditional Armenian dishes in a natural cave café. Here we will taste Armenian “Dolma” - minced meat with rice and spices rolled in cabbage leaves or in the leaves of grape vine. Dolma with grape vine leaves is better to taste with “matsoun” - a fermented milk product, very similar to yogurt. Moreover, it is famous among foreigners as “Armenian yogurt”. It has often attracted the international society and many scientists thanks to its healing features. We will also taste sorrel soup – very common for this region. Some of the health benefits ofthis fascinating perennial herb include its ability to boost eyesight, strengthen the immune system, improve digestion, build strong bones, increase circulation, increase energy levels, help prevent cancer, reduce certain skin conditions, lower blood pressure, increase appetite, slow the aging process, protect against diabetes, strengthen heart health, and improve kidney health. Continue to the spa town Jermuk famous for its healthy mineral waters. Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Jermuk.
After breakfast at the hotel drive to the city of Yeghegnadzor, famous for its wine, cheese and canned fruit. A unique type of cheese is Yeghegnadzor Buried Cheese which is made nowhere else in the world. Goat milk and herbs are mixed together and buried for six months. It is ready to eat when it becomes salty and sharp. Continue the tour to the village of Areni to taste delicate and gentle Armenian wine. Recent archaeological expeditions in this region have unearthed the oldest in the world winery, thus, proving that the village has the oldest traditions of wine production.Armenian wine is mostly made from local varietals, such as Areni, Lalvari, Kakhet, etc., though some wineries mix in better known European varietals such as Chardonnay and Cabernet. Winemaking is now undergoing a revival, with the addition of world-class labels such as Zorah Wines. A yearly wine festival, held in Areni, is popular with the locals and features wines from official wineries as well as homemade hooch of varying quality. Armenian wines are predominantly red and are sweet, semi-sweet (Vernashen, Ijevan), or dry (Areni). In addition to grapes, wines have been made with other fruit, notably pomegranate, apricot, quince. In some cases, these fruit wines are fortified. Lunch at the winery tasting traditional “harisa”. It is a thick porridge made from korkot (dried or roasted cracked wheat) and fat-rich meat, usually chicken or lamb. The extremely long cooking process is an essential part of the harissa tradition. Like other ritual dishes, the time taken for preparation is part of its cherished value. According to Armenian lore, the patron saint of Armenia, Gregory the Illuminator, was offering a meal of love and charity to the poor. There weren't enough sheep to feed the crowds so wheat was added to the cooking pots. Harisa has been offered as a charity meal ever since. Continue the tour driving to the cemetery of cross-stones (or khachkars) Noratus. Many of these khachkars date back to the 13- 17th centuries, and the oldest one dates back to the 7 th century. A pleasant drive along the magnificent view of the pearl of Armenia – Lake Sevan – will take us to the Monastery of Sevanavank. During the 8 the century a few monks settled on the former island of Sevan and began to build their churches. Due to its strategically good location, many others came here. For a while it was the residence of the king Ashot Erkat. With the time the walls of the monastery were destroyed and in 1930 the last monk left the monastery. Dinner at a local tavern tasting Ishkhan (Prince Fish) typical to the waters of Armenia, as well as crab barbeque. Overnight at a hotel near the lake.
After breakfast at the hotel, we will drive to Dilijan, which is often called “Little Switzerland”. This gorgeously forested region is rich in mineral waters, some of which are comparable with those at Vichy in France and Davos in Switzerland. Visit Haghartsin Monastery (10-13th centuries), situated in the woodlands of Tavush region, near the densely forested region of Dilijan. Lush forests and mountains add to the beauty of the whole complex. Lunch tasting traditional local dishes. Drive to Yerevan, enjoying changing views all the way. Close to the evening we will have an excursion in Megerian Carpet Weaving Factory, where, along with the techniques of weaving, dyeing and restoring of famous Armenian rugs and carpets, we will learn the history of the Armenian cuisine and explore its origins from different regions of the country. This will be a special event headed by the chef cook. After the meals we will taste Armenian tea. For over 7000 years, the tradition of gathering and blending wild herbs and flowers has been an integral part of the daily lives of the Armenian people. As a result of our ethno-botanical research and ancient manuscript study we rehabilitate about 68 specialty infusions of herbs and flower that were used by Royal Families being in charge of Armenia since ancient time by the end of the Middle Ages. The herbs are harvested sustainably in the wild and then processed entirely by hand. Overnight at a hotel in Yerevan.
Having only tea or coffee for breakfast, we will drive to the slopes of Aragats Mountain. We will enjoy Armenian breakfast in the open air, just a few walks away from the wonderful Lake Kari. The main ingredient of this breakfast will be “khash”. The name originates from the Armenian verb "khashél", which means "to boil”. Khash is a dish of boiled cow's feet. Formerly a nutritious winter food, it is now considered a delicacy, and is enjoyed as a festive winter meal, usually by a company of women and men who sit around a table, early in the morning. Modern-day convention in Armenia dictates that it should be consumed during the month that has an 'r' in its name, thus excluding May, June, July, and August. Traditionally they eat it with dried “lavash” and pieces of garlic mainly in winter. The air is so fresh in Aragats and there is an opportunity to overcome a small hill, which will be good for digestion. Drive to Amberd - a 7th century fortress located 2,300 meters (7,500 ft) above sea level, on the slopes of Mount Aragats at the confluence of the Arkashen and Amberd rivers. Continue the tour driving to Ashtarak city to enjoy an open-air theatre of Tonacuyc, which illustrates Armenian traditions and customs. Lunch and illustration of local dishes, made mainly of greens. Drive to Yerevan. Short leisure time. Farewell dinner with a folk show at a local tavern or restaurant. Overnight at a hotel in Yerevan.
- Accommodation at a hotel on a DBL/TWIN basis
- Meals FB: breakfast at the hotels + 1x breakfast in Aragats + 7x lunches + 7x dinners
- All indicated transfers in a comfortable air-conditioned transportation
- Entrance tickets to all museums and attractions
- Cognac tasting at Yerevan Brandy Factory (3x types)
- Wine tasting at Areni Winery
- “Tonatsuyts” Open Air Theatre
- Master class of “lavash” baking
- Master class on making “kufta” (meatballs)
- English-speaking professional guide services throughout the tour
- A bottle of water per person per day
- Maps of Armenia and Yerevan
- Company presents
- Visa-related fees (if applicable)
- Air tickets
- Travel insurance
- PCR test (if applicable)
- Medieval vocal concert at Geghard Monastery
- Meals except described
- Portage at the hotels
- All other services not mentioned