I woke up late today as I really needed to catch up on sleep after a busy week of work in the UK, travel and work here in Yerevan. After a bit of checking email and reading the news (I now have wifi in the flat!), I went for a wander down to Republic Square and found a cafe that I had passed a few times in one of the nearby parks. I had a quick omelet (omelets are ubiquitous in pretty much all cafes here – a good cheap meal) along with a ‘Franch Coffee’ (I think it meant French) which I think had some kind of liquor in it and then an Armenian coffee:
After my quick breakfast/lunch, I wandered over to Vernissage, the enormous outdoor market where you can buy all many of things – trinkets, books, clothes, housewares, art, jewelry, carpets, knives, dental surgery equipment (no joke), taxidermy and lots of other varied items.
I saw lots of stuff I might have bought, but I don’t really have much space for carrying things back to the UK and I also was a bit wary of having to haggle too much. I got the distinct sense that I would be offered the highest possible price for anything I wanted, since I didn’t speak Russian or Armenian. I did end up making one purchase, which is a metal bowl with a beautiful peacock design on it. There were lots of these bowls in various designs and sizes; a number of them had what looked like the olympic rings on them, so not sure their provenance. I think they look Indian, so they might be imports that happen to be plentiful. I haggled with the very sweet granny and ended up getting it for half her starting price, but still more than I bet most people get charged. In the end, it was about £6, so I can’t complain.
After walking through Vernissage for an hour or more, I went to the Tamanian museum, which is right next to the market. I had heard from some of my students that it was worth a visit, so I stopped in. Tamanian was a Russian-born, Armenian architect who created the city plan of Yerevan and who designed many of the buildings in the city (including the opera house). The museum has a wide collection of his drawings, correspondence, a model or two, many photographs and some ephemera from his life and practice. A very nice man who works in the museum spoke some English and told me quite a bit about his life and history. His work is neo-classical but bridges some of the ancient Armenian aesthetic with more European and Russian styles. Super interesting to see. I took a picture of a model of a building that doesn’t look like most of Tamanian’s work, so it might be an example of a more traditional building (not sure as the man had a phone call so he wasn’t able to give me the full tour).
After visiting the museum, I wandered home, walking past several kiosks including this one that was selling beautiful looking berries:
I then stopped in a market that I’ve been to a few times to get some of these delicious baked things which are a cross between a brioche and a muffin. Not sure what they are, but I had one for breakfast yesterday and decided to get some to have for tomorrow morning.
I then grabbed a big bottle of still water and am now back at the flat taking a break before the reception this evening at the British Ambassador’s house which is in honor of a performance that happened of Armenian work at the Globe in the UK. Looking forward to the evening!