Some friends and I took a four day weekend and hopped on the night train to go to Armenia! With only 4 days we didn't see anything outside of Yerevan, but the city itself was plenty!
Some facts about Armenia:
1. In Armenia, they speak Armenian.
2. My friends and I do not speak Armenian. At all.
3. People are incredibly friendly and polite and will explain at length, in Armenian, how to get somewhere. Luckily, some of them speak English.
A tiny, adorable very old Armenian woman shared our compartment on the train and fed us fried bread and potatoes. We crossed the border around midnight, and it felt very dramatic to disembark the train and be met by soldiers, the eight or so of us foreigners feeling so alone in the middle of nowhere. The soldiers and officials were all very nice, which made it less dramatic. Once we got to Armenia the facts that we didn't speak any of the language, they didn't speak Georgian, it was very early morning and we didn't know how to get a cab came crashing down on us in our sleep deprived state. Luckily, a kind Iranian man in a stellar orange '80s sweater with a deer head on it translated for us and got us a cab. We made our way to Envoy Hostel (which I HIGHLY recommend - the hot, clean showers alone are worth it) and started what I will term our "Old People Cultural Weekend".
It's a stereotype of the young foreigners in Georgia that they are only there to party....and that they only travel to enjoy more partying. We, however, do not fit this stereotype. We frequented four different museums, nerded out with ancient manuscripts, drank a lot of tea, attended church services (beautiful music!) and on our one "young people" night drank about 2 beers apiece. It was a lovely weekend.
We took the marshutka back, which wasn't a terrible ride, though at one point we thought we had been stranded on the border. And then it was done - a too fast, tiny slice of Armenia!
Some comparisons between Yerevan and Tbilisi:
1. They follow traffic laws in Yerevan and will even wait to let pedestrians cross the street!
2. They sell khachapuri (cheesy bread sold everywhere in Georgia) in Yerevan in case you didn't get enough of it before.
3. The artwork, especially in the churches, is much different - in Yerevan it struck me as much more Middle Eastern. (I'm no art historian, so don't quote me on this.) In fact, Yerevan in general was definitely much more Middle Eastern to me than Tbilisi. Though I'm not sure what this is based on since I've never been to the Middle East....
View from the top of the Cascade - usually there are a fountains flowing
down this giant, beautiful staircase, but we were too late in the season.
From the manuscript museum
From the manuscript museum! Nerding out.
We went to an Armenian church service - amazing music!
My first mosque!
Summary - if you find yourself in the area, Yerevan is lovely, pleasant and fairly inexpensive city! Stay at Envoy!