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Trip Report Armenia: A Wild Thyme

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Golden apricots dripping juice down my chin. Fields of wildflowers rich in bees and butterflies. Ancient monasteries at breathtaking locations. A holiday festival that involves everyone getting soaking wet. Dancing in the bus aisles. The most insanely perfect salad I've ever had. Lacy stone cross carvings, some even carved into the mountain walls. One of the most beautiful public squares I've ever seen, especially at night when its fountain dances in colors and music. A gorgeous inland sea, albeit fresh water. History soaked in every stone, from the very ancient stone observatory to the almost-just-yesterday conflict in the southeast.

I spent twelve days in Armenia, and it really wasn't long enough.

I'll start with some of the factual parts:

Dates: July 4th-16th, via Aeroflot from Dulles Airport (total 12 hours of flying time)

Locations: Yereven, staying at Villa Delenda http://villaayghedzor.com/lodging_delenda_en.asp Definitely recommended; beautiful building, great location, great breakfast, and the loveliest housekeeper ever.

Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh: Hotel Heghnar http://www.heghnarhotel.com/ Perfectly fine, not particularly memorable

Near Vanadzor, Lori region: Tezh-ler resort http://www.tezhler-resort.am/ Recommended, with a few caveats: It's great for relaxing, but you might prefer to have a car as it's tough to get anywhere, and my room was a bit damp. I'd love to see more info available to guests here, too. But it's a gorgeous setting and quite comfortable, with the higher altitude providing a good climate break

Tour service: Hyur Services, very professional and organized. Highly recommended. http://www.hyurservice.com/eng/ (Thanks, thursdaysd, for the recommendation!) I used a tour service here as it's definitely a bit simpler. I'll talk individual tours as I go on, but overall Hyur was excellent and reasonably priced.

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