During this time for us of “pushing the pause button,” we are mostly enjoying some normalcy that one very seldom gets when on-the-go and living out of suitcase over a three yearsperiod!
We are so happy and comfortable and relaxed. We feel at home. The last time we felt this at home was lockdown on Santorini Island in Greece, back in March. We stayed in a wonderful villa for 2.5 months in 2020. Now, here we are, eight months later, feeling much the same, in Armenia, under, not, entirely different circumstances. True, we are not on lockdown being in Armenia, but it’s a form of lockdown, when we are not free to travel to any neighboring countries, since their borders are closed.
We look very forward, once again, being free to move about the world at our leisure, one day.
Being in one place, we took the opportunity to contact our rental car company and tell them we were not driving the rental again, till they fixed the worn-out brakes, or replace the car with another one. It was not safe. This was our second request, and they took me serious this time. The car only had 14,000 miles on it when we picked it up in December. We let it go the last time we took it back to them, because after driving it, they said it would be fine. But, it only got worse. Now, instead of us driving into Yerevan to them, they had to come to us. The good news is, the problem is fixed and we have brand new brake pads. They also turned the calipers. We have confidence in the rental car again. It’s safe to drive! The rental car workers were shaking their heads though, because we told them we had metal on metal with the brakes, but in a brand new car, how could that be?
My daughter is going back to the Post Office where she sent my packages from. According to the Armenia post here, my packages never left the USA. That was back on December 28th. My tracking with USPS, indicates they left for Armenia on January 4th. All I know is I have not received my packages in the 7-10 day timeframe they said it would be from the USA.So Armenia Post claims my packages never left the USA, and the USA indicated my packages were in transit to Armenia on January 4th.
Daryl did manage to “jury-rig” my reading glasses, so they stay on my face. Yes, those are face mask strings! It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we could do, with no place to order new ones, while in Armenia.
I also must find a dermatologist or a skin doctor or a GP, in nearby Yerevan. I have a few “spots” that I am concerned about, and at the very least they need to burned off. Our host(s) are so kind, and he is giving me some emails and phone numbers to point me in the right direction. Hopefully, somebody will speak some English to make it go smoothly. I can only assume I will get in, in a short while, and not a long wait. No matter where you call home, life happens. We have to deal with the good the bad, and the not so good!
Our days are going by so fast! It’s hard to believe it sometimes. Obviously we are staying busy and entertained. Daryl and I are each other’s best company, so no complaints there. He’s been listening to audio books and I’m indulging on “Bridgerton” and “Lucifin” on Netflix, and staying in touch with what’s going on in our country at this time.
Tonight we got another special treat for our dinner. Aside from a hearty bowl of Harrisa (my favorite dish) we got my second favorite dish; Blini/Blinchik, which is a Russian Pancake.
I thought this would be a fun post to put together, since we are taking some time to be off the wintery roads to relax. Normally this amount of information and detail will only show up in our travel books we plan to publish one day. But, here I have it in our blog.I will continue to add to this blog post, any new dishes we may to experience, as we continue our adventuring in Armenia.
As I write this, it is snowing outside, and I can see it coming down through the picture window of the B& B we are staying at. It is suppose to snow all day, and into the evening. It is so pretty. There is a blinking light set up, in the living room, that reminds us both of the warmth of a fireplace. We pretend anyway.
Throughout our travels, whenever we have stayed for longer periods of time, in any country, we always have an opportunity to learn more about the cultures, traditions, and see more historic sites and experience more varied traditional foods! In some cases, when the food is not interesting, there is no variety to speak of, or readily available, the stay can be ever so LONG Ha!
For one example, This happened to us in North Korea, when we stayed there for a planned two months. WAY too long, as our expectations were a little to high. The fact that Bim Bap (my favorite Korean food) was available most of the time, really saved the trip. Daryl got tired of this dish. I did not! While we didn’t exactly find the Korean people very warm or friendly towards visitors, or the food very interesting, otherwise, we loved what we got to see and do in South Korea. Here are a few pictures for you to see: what Bi Bim Bap is, as well as some scenery.
Back to our current stay
Even though we are visiting Armenia in the dead of winter, we continue to enjoy this country, more and more; meaning we feel very comfortable here. The people, though shy from lack of English skills, still make an effort to communicate and are welcoming and friendly. This is always a pleasant surprise, and of course we were hopeful we would be here for about month, then move and to the next country. This is not turning out to be the case, because borders remain closed all around the world. Deep down, we knew this could be a reality. Even so, we are finding there is plenty of joy for us, when we stay put, too. By doing so, we get to immerse ourselves into the fabric of our surroundings, and it a glorious experience, indeed!
One of those joys is being able to tryi so many different foods, where the cooking has been spectacular. We have great cooks, and a variety of dishes, to keep it more interesting! Perfect for the Lon-term stay. I have taken many photos of foods we have been served, since arriving in Armenia. Interestingly enough, we have seen very few menus. When we have seen a menu, they have no English words or even photos to go by. In spite of the challenges of ordering food, we have come to love Armenian dishes!
I remember at one place we stayed (the no name hotel in Amasia) I asked if they had spaghetti. I even showed a photo with spaghetti noodles and hamburger sauce over it (like Bolognese Spaghetti). I was told yes, yes, they can make that “in one day from now.” Okay, great. I looked forward to that. But, when dinner was served the next night, I got a plate full of Spaghetti noodles with a big smile…nothing else. I’ve traveled the globe long enough and very far and wide enough, through many countries, I knew the woman was not messing with me. Had I been less traveled, I may have been more suspicious of this. But no, it’s just very hard to communicate, when in this case, the woman was Russian, and did not know English; nor did I know Russian. (Why the picture evaded her, I do not know) So, I just smiled and said thank you, because I knew she thought she did good, but I knew I would not be ordering Bolognese Spaghetti again!
Another bonus of staying in one place for a longer period, is, we get to ask (through translator) for no salt or spicy 🌶 foods. A Armenian foods are rarely spicy, so this a plus, too. But,the cooking in the Caucuses tends to be very heavy on the salt; especially certain sliced cheeses and their meats. While here, at the Artson B&B in Vagharshapat, Armenia; About 30 minutes west of the Capital city of Yerevan, we get served whatever they are cooking for their family. Fine by us, because its a bit of surprise as to what we will have for dinner, and it takes the drama of trying to figure out what they have and for them to try to tell us.
Aside from the great food, we love the quiet part of this neighboring burb to the busy noisy big city, and the new and beautiful rooms, where everything works! Plumbing, shower nozzles, shower heads, hot water, cold water, internet, etc. It has be one our favorite place we have stayed. The family; our hosts are very nice, and care very much to ensure our stay is comfortable and satisfying. If you ever come to Armenia, be sure and spend some downtime here. You will be glad you did!
A Story, Just From Yesterday
Our host asked if we liked Rabbit meat. Of course we do and we said yes. We always have our dinner delivered to our dining area at 4:30PM; which our time pick. About 10 minutes after he asked us about the meat choice for dinner, there he was out back in the large garden area and small orchard, under a covered shed. He was skinning a good sized Rabbit for our dinner, apparently from his own fluffle or colony. Now, you can’t get a meal any fresher than that! As always, the meal was delicious; all of it!
Now, Feast Your Eyes on These Sumptuous Dishes!
It is not always easy to learn the names of food dishes in countries where so little English is spoken, and this is the case in Armenia as well. But, I have taken some time on researching to match food photos with their proper names, to share this post with you. You may think it would be easier to ask the names. but its not, unless the person speaks very good English, because the heavy accent totally disguises what the word sounds like, let alone how to spell it. Asking for a spelling doesn’t work, either, because even if somebody can speak some English, it doesn’t necessarily mean they know how to read any English or know our letters or numbers, which is quite understandable.
Imagine our surprise to see a few White Storks, yesterday, on our drive from Vagharshapat to Yerevan, and back. This is a highly unusual sight to see, this time of year!
White Storks fly south from their summer breeding grounds in Europe (yes, Armenia is considered geopolitical Europe, south Caucuses and Asia) in August and September, heading for Africa. There, they spend the winter in the savannah from Kenya and Uganda, and south to the Cape Province of South Africa.
We are quite familiar with this particular bird, because of their migrating habits. We have seen them in Europe, and Africa. These are very large birds, and have had to adapt to a more city environment, in Europe, due to their natural habitat being taken away. But, that being said, they do thrive!
We were pleased to learn, when we have traveled to these other continents, and admired Stork activities, protection programs are in place to support these birds. Armenia is no different and I read up on their particular program as well. More on that to follow, BUT…..
From late March to August every year, around 650 pairs of breeding White Storks descend into wetland-adjacent villages in Armenia, settling into numbered nests where they will hatch nestlings and teach the babies to feed. Armenia is a stopover point for breed, on their long journey South, from Western Europe to their winter grounds in Africa. their nests are reused every year, and the Storks tend to come back to the same ones, or ones very close to where they, themselves, were hatched.
Storks, common in worldwide folklore for bringing human babies to families, gained new traction during the 19th century, when the myth; using the Stork as a symbol of birth, was popularized by Hans Christian Andersen in his version of the fable, called “The Storks.” In this tale, these birds plucked dreaming babies from ponds and lakes, and delivered them to deserving families.
Armenia as a stopover point to breed, on their long journey South from Western Europe to their winter grounds in Africa.
At the same time, more than 1,000 families in those Armenian villages will take pen to paper and monitor the Storks’ progress as part of a program called Nest Neighbors. If you want to read more about this program, here is the link. Its quite interesting and similar to other programs in other lands: https://whitleyaward.org/winners/white-stork-armenia/
We had driven into the capital yesterday, in hopes of getting me some new reading glasses ordered. I only use glasses when on my computer, but as you may know I’m always on my computer working on photos, writing, and posting on our blog. My lenses ares till good but the frame broke. One stem is gone.
After two different stops at Optical places in Yerevan, we heard the same following story: Because of the kind of prescription for my glasses, they would need to send my lenses out of the country, to duplicate them, because Armenia can’t do the work. I can’t be without my glasses for that long, as my work never stops. The other option we looked into is just getting me some magnified glasses, but we have never seen an eye glass stand of such non-prescription eye glasses readers, here. When we try to ask where we can find non-prescription eye glasses, they do not understand. EVEN when using translator.So, while my lenses are fine, and I still have one operating stem, Daryl will need to figure out some kind of a rigged band for me to wear around my head, to keep my broken stem side on my face.
While also in the city, we went into a Post Office (they are called Hay Post, here) to see what we could learn about my two shipped packages, which had left America on December 28, and are to be delivered here in Armenia. One of three gals could speak a little English. I gave her my tracking numbers, and she got busy on her computer, with all the gals overing over her, waiting for an answer, as were we. In the end, she could not give us any answers as to where our packages are, but she did write down a phone number, where I can call to check on the tracking, here, in Armenia. That was on Saturday and it is now Sunday. I will call tomorrow, on Monday, and hope to get good news. We are committed to remain in Armenia till the packages come. We just happened to come to the B&B where the owners are so kind to allow a delivery for us, on the chance they arrived on time.
Backstory: If we could have gotten back into India, from Pakistan, we would not have needed these shipped parcels. We have plenty of supplies (including cold weather wear) in storage at a hotel in Mumbai. But, while we can manage without the clothing (easier to replace) I can not go with out other things; not available as easily; if at all. India has been in lockdown since March and has never opened.
Based on how these two packages, being shipped to us here goes, will determine if I have our daughter send another letter envelope to me at this same place with my renewal drivers license she finally got in the mail. WE haven’t always had the best of luck getting our goods, when my daughter has helped us out, so we keep fingers and toes crossed, always!
At this time, no neighboring countries Armenia are open to tourists, so I arranged for the rental car, till March 2nd. Daryl also learned, the only way we can get to Azerbaijan, is to fly, since Armenia and Azerbaijan have been at war since around 1988, and land crossings for tourists are not allowed. We already know, as a tourist, we can not drive over land borders from Armenia to Georgia, either, so we will not keep the rental car beyond our Armenia travels.
YES! WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO SPRING, as most people are!
We have plenty left to see in Armenia, but given what is going on in our home county, this next week or so it seems and feels like uncertain times, we want to be on the safe side, and are taking a break from being out and about, till the end of the month, because if we can not access our online banking, or use our credit card from America, here in Armenia, we won’t get very far. We could not be in a better place; in a prepaid room and board situation, and such good internet!! Its very much a home-stay, which are our favorite kinds of places to stay. The food is amazing; healthy, home cooked and organic from their large garden they grow every year, and put up their harvest for the winter months in the root cellar. We have hot water in the shower and the sink, heat, a washing machine, a microwave, hot plate, fridge and the most comfortable bed we have had in over a month. We are the only guests, until the last few days of our stay, so yes, we are pretty spoiled. We are also expecting snow over the next few days again. It is nice taking some time away from driving, too. Winter time is a little tricky in that regards, to get around, easily. It can be stressful.
Well, that’s it for now.
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