I visited the delightful capital of Armenia in 2014.
Armenia is not easy to get to from the UK. There are no direct flights and three of the four land borders are not accessible, a consequence of Armenia’s long running disputes with Azerbaijan & Turkey and our own less than cordial relationship with Iran.
There are no signs of good diplomatic relations with Azerbaijan and they are still technically at war because of the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and dispute. NK as it is known is a majority ethnic Armenian populated region, which is technically part of Azerbaijan even though it is not attached Azerbaijan territory and now considers itself independent!
The Turkish border is also shut due to the failure of Turkey to accept and apologise for the genocide committed between 1915-23 with the systematic mass murder and expulsion of 1.5 million ethnic Armenians carried out in Turkey and adjoining regions by the Ottoman government
The starting date is conventionally held to be 24 April 1915 with the anniversary recognised last week.
So, it takes some effort to get to the former Soviet, but you are handsomely rewarded if you do grab the opportunity.
Hamish and I took the long route – Istanbul to Erzurum in Kurdish Turkey via Ankara by overnight train, bus and taxi into Georgia and then another overnight train to Yerevan via Tbilisi. This epic trip threw up plenty of memorable moments.
We arrived in the Armenian capital on a very special day – the 23rd Independence Day celebrations on 21st September 2014. This was a very patriotic affair as you can imagine.
Low on friendly neighbours they may be, but they certainly know how to have a good time judging by the singing, dancing, eating and drinking by the enthusiastic throng, young faces painted in Armenia’s vibrant national colours of orange, red and blue.
We watched the celebrations in Independence Square, which culminated in an impressive firework display. It felt like we were gate-crashing somewhat, but nobody cared a jot and we felt honoured to be there looking on.
Yerevan itself was a very pleasant city to linger in. Plenty of fountains, green spaces, cafes & bars and attractive architecture & interesting Orthodox churches and a striking mosque.
Look out for Z tomorrow, the final post of the April Challenge