BL #47: Meet the Armenian Dali


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Asia » Armenia
August 18th 2014
Published: September 30th 2017
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Geo: 40.1793, 44.5102

Organizing tours in Armenia has been a bust so far - rather than spend a lot of time and effort moving from place to place in the country, the strategy was pretty much basing myself out of Yerevan and do tours around Armenia. But there was one problem - Envoy's tours are contingent on minimum numbers, and today's planned tour fell through. It sounded great when I tried to make the booking, with tonight supposed to be a home stay in a village, followed by some time at Lake Sevan tomorrow, before returning to Yerevan in the evening.

So this all meant that I had an extra day to kill in Yerevan - not the worst thing, as there are more than enough cafes around town to keep me busy, as well as a couple of museums I wanted to check out. Beyond Yerevan's unique architecture, it really does have some very interesting art installations and museums - definitely a surprise, as whatever preconceptions I may have had certainly didn't involve Yerevan having a cosmopolitan cafe culture, or a cool art and museum scene.

The Sergei Parajanov Museum was recommended to me by a couple of other guests staying at the hostel, who described it as being funky, and almost Dali-esque. Anything even remotely reminiscent of Dali is more than intriguing to me, and made the museum a priority today, despite not even knowing the smallest fact about the man. While he was firstly known as an avant-garde film director, it's his artworks that he produced after being wrongfully imprisoned, that are the stars of the museum.

Collages and dioramas seem to be his preferred mediums, and there are definitely some bizarre and surrealistic elements to what he does. Though he doesn't seem to be into painting, there definitely are some hints of Dali's creativity in Parajanov's art. Pieces range from the whimsical to the strange, down to the somewhat disturbing, and it was quite impressive that he had generated such a vast amount of art in a relatively short amount of time.

So today didn't turn out per the original plan, but it wasn't so bad - instead of meeting and staying with an Armenian family in a little village, I ended up meeting Mr. Parajanov, instead. The rest of the day also played itself out in a rather entertaining way as well, bouncing from cafe to restaurant to cafe to restaurant, eating way too much food and drinking way too much Turkish coffee in the process. Not a bad day's work in Yerevan!


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Dave, the Owner of Prime BerthDave, the Owner of Prime Berth
Dave, the Owner of Prime Berth

Ready for the Demonstration
The Little Bones used for JewelryThe Little Bones used for Jewelry
The Little Bones used for Jewelry

On the front right corner of the table are the tongue and the cheeks.
The Armenian Starbucks ...The Armenian Starbucks ...
The Armenian Starbucks ...

... seems to be Cafe Jazze, a local chain with several locations in Yerevean's centre. Each location that I visited seems to have a slightly-different character to it, so the only thing I found that seems typical of franchises are the glossy newspaper-style menus. They turn out a decent Armenian coffee, which seems a bit weaker than the Turkish version.
Prime Berth BuildingsPrime Berth Buildings
Prime Berth Buildings

Dave towed one of these buildings 6 miles across the water to bring it to this site.
Light Lunch ...Light Lunch ...
Light Lunch ...

... sort of. Beef salad with bell peppers and peach - it doesn't look like it, but there is a ton of slivered beef here, so this was actually quite a substantial lunch when paired with a basket of bread, including crispy Georgian-style bread, lavash, and one that was a bit like foccaccia. The sauce was great, spicy with an almost Asian flair to it. The only complaint? The peach may have been the best part, but there didn't seem to be a whole lot of it in the salad.
Dessert Trio ...Dessert Trio ...
Dessert Trio ...

... I went all out today, going for an Armenian baklava, Armenian (Turkish) coffee, and Armenian brandy. The baklava was loaded with walnuts and quite hard, almost crunchy, and served cold - I've been complaining that the Balkan baklava we've had has been too syrupy, but this one wasn't syrupy enough. Not a huge fan, but the coffee was good and the brandy super-smooth - 10-year old, and a nice finish to the meal.


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