Once upon a time, I hugged Armenia in my arms

Masha Ushakova

Experiences of coming into contact with the Armenian diaspora around the world is often the reason why people travel to Armenia. I remember talking to a young Portuguese couple in Porto who told me that rented a house built by Calouste Gulbenkian, and how they wanted to visit Armenia. Well, each of us have our own relationship with Armenia or Armenians and surely, an interesting one. I want to share mine with you!

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Armenia for 6 days. It was a trip called ‘Armenian Fairy Tale’ organized by an excellent tour company ‘Babushka Vartanoush’  https://vartanushgrandma.com/ru, especially for Moscow Travel Club members. We were 10 in total, I was joined by a group of fun and unique group of fellow travelers from all over the world, namely from; USA, UK, Sudan, Poland, Portugal, China, Luxemburg, Russia and  Sweden.

God only knows how many times I was invited by my friends Armen, David and Gago to visit their amazing winery Voskevaz. Well, this time, I had a chance and I am ever so grateful to them. Not only did I get to taste wine made from Areni grapes using ancient technology (a six thousand years old type of grape), but I also got to experience and admire at first hand Voskevaz’s amazing wine caves and castles. I am really proud of what they are able to achieve for their country’s revival of wine making traditions. They are a great example of Armenians demonstrating care and achieving results for the wellbeing of their people and their country. 

We travelled all over the country and we loved every single place we visited from Dilijan, to dancing and singing fountains in Yerevan, all the way down to Tatev monastery.

One may often see the face of God and the holy apostles in a completely different, uncanonical, incomprehensible way on the lake Sevan, in a high mountain ranges which are difficult to access, in ancient churches carved out of basalt rocks (Christianity came to Armenia as early as 4th century AD). This may be an image of a creature with a Mongolian face, in a skirt, strange clothes, with female braids, a terrible look or with a funny pose. I am talking about grotesque decorations in churches, which have been preserved in the Christian world right up to the late Middle Ages. This is completely absent in Russian churches and on Russian frescoes and icons. Very interesting and informative! 

Acknowledging the fact that some of us have clip mentality (I do for sure), you might want to read the feedback of people who were with me on this trip, as well as see some photos, more than anything else:) I want to share what made Armenia real for me and my friends. Just as Babushka Vartanush says, and we agree with her – Armenia is all about emotions.

Mourad from Luxemburg:

“I am very happy to have finally discovered this country of which I dreamed, its grandiose landscapes and of course the monasteries perched in splendid sites. This trip has filled me beyond my expectations. From a historical point of view, I really enjoyed visiting the museums, especially the moving museum of the Armenian Genocide Tsitsernakaberd. Also, not to forget the culinary journey: fruits, vegetables, delicious and well-cooked that often we could taste outside, the weather being ideal. A real pleasure!” 

Eric from China (owner of the photos taken with Vivo NEX mobile):

“In Armenia, you don’t have to remember the names of all churches and monasteries, but you need to experience its history. You don’t have to recognize all the wine categories, but you need to have a taste of them in local way. You don’t come here once, because you will plan to go again and again. Armenia, discover it and you will fall in love with it, unexpectedly!”

“Armenia is as beautiful as the people who represent it in abundance all of the world. Armenia is a place where time stops, history dominates every breath that you take and every sight you observe, the story of the country makes you very sad, as it’s intertwined with a constant pain and bleeding memory of the forced exile of Armenian people. However, the ability of the Armenian people to keep loyalty in their roots and demonstrate tolerance, love and peace for each other and others is incredible. The snow ball full of love keeps on rolling down from the top of the Ararat mountain, collecting more and more years and people on the way to cast a way for our beloved Armenia without borders in our hearts. Once upon a time, I hugged Armenia in my arms.” 

PS. I would like to express my gratitude to Svetlana Krasnova for facilitating this trip for me and making it possible. Without her, I would have never experienced Armenia, she is the reason behind my constant improvement and search for perfection in myself. Svetlana is an angel sent to me from heaven, one of a kind, without a drop of exaggeration. Yours always, Maria Ushakova

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