Echmiadzin is to the Armenian Apostolic Church what The Vatican is to the Catholic Church. It is believed that St. Gregory the illuminator first envisioned and built Mayr Tachar (Mother Church of Armenia) there in the 3rd-4th century. The monastery remains active with somber looking men in black robes gliding around its grounds. Continue Reading »
When we first moved to Prague in 2001, ethnic restaurants were relatively expensive; the selection was slim and value low. In response, we sought out odd spice shops and developed new skills in cooking Italian, Indian, Thai and Mexican. As with the availability of ingredients, the number of ethnic restaurants in Prague has grown substantially over the last few years. We’ve even been introduced to some new cuisines like Afghan and Georgian. Continue Reading »
When we first moved to Prague at the end of 2001, fresh goods like celery and limes were luxury food items with out-sized price tags whose whereabouts were restricted to an imported food shop called Fruits de France.
In the last five years, however, the landscape for finding fruits, non-root vegetables, spices, herbs and imported goods in Prague has evolved rapidly. Prague still doesn’t have a good central food market or a “fresh market” culture like Vienna or Munich, but the Vietnamese community has managed to fill some of the void by opening endless fruit and vegetable shops. Although it’s still difficult to assemble a sophisticated, full-course meal with one stop, if you know where to look you can find almost anything you need. Continue Reading »
Searching hopelessly one night for what turned out to be a defunct traditional Armenian restaurant, we inquired with the locals in Yerevan regarding where we could find good traditional Armenian food. “There,” all fingers pointed in the direction of one of the handful of local kebab joints.
We declare – man cannot live on kebabs alone! And anyway, could grilled minced meat wrapped in lavash (flat bread) really represent the breadth of the Armenian table? Continue Reading »
Every advertisement for Armenia includes an image of Khor Virap Monastery’s silhouette against snow-capped Mt. Ararat.
Khor Virap Monastery can be considered the site of origin of Christianity as Armenia’s state religion. Continue Reading »
“This is a hotel, right?”
“Do you have rooms?”
“Yes. How long would you like the room?”
“For one night.”
“The whole night? You mean until morning?” It was 11:00 P.M. The woman at the desk seemed surprised by Audrey’s response. Continue Reading »
Have you ever watched the news and witnessed escaping refugees at a border crossing, crushed against iron bars like animals in a cage? You know the scene. Now superimpose two backpack-laden white faces onto that newsreel, throw in a few cries of “Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan” amongst the shrieks of old women and children being squashed in a sea of madness, and you would just begin to understand what we went through at the Uzbek-Kazakh border yesterday. Continue Reading »
Taking advantage of free wireless internet in Tashkent, we’ve decided to conclude our time here by uploading photos from Uzbekistan’s Silk Road.
Tashkent has been the most connected city in Central Asia thus far. Rather ironic considering Uzbekistan’s penchant for blocking internet sites and restricting printed material. Just one of the many contradictions here. Continue Reading »
Interested in seeing more of the “real” Armenia outside the reaches of Yerevan, we decided to head south to Tatev in the direction of Armenia’s border with Iran. The journey there comes in two parts: a marshrutka (minibus) from Yerevan to Goris (4-5 hours) and a dilapidated 1950s school bus from Goris to Tatev (1.5 hours). Though the trip to Goris was relatively uneventful, we were amazed that the bus to Tatev actually winds and finds its way up hills, across meadows and in and out of a switchback-framed gorge – each and every day in one piece, rain or shine. Continue Reading »
The years immediately following the collapse of the Soviet Union were dramatic and bleak for Yerevan – blackouts, food shortages and a feeling of hopelessness defined a candle-lit existence of scarcity.
Today, Yerevan appears up and coming. Moments of widespread scarcity are a distant memory, at least in downtown Yerevan where new buildings, cafes, restaurants, and sophisticated store fronts line the city streets. Large SUVs compete with BMWs and Mercedes as kings of the road, while those with Soviet-era Ladas and Volgas keep their cars sparkling clean in order to earn their place on the streets. Continue Reading »