Bruce Momjian

My Trip to Armenia

"Saturday, June 26, 2004"

When we got off the plane, there was a bus waiting to take us to the terminal. We got on it and it drove us to the terminal. We walked up some stairs and down a hall, then we entered a room where the luggage, passport control, money transfer, and visas were. We bought a visa for Daddy (I didn't need one) and then we went through Passport Control. After Passport Control, we went to get the luggage, which was in the same room. It took a while for the luggage to show up, but then it did, and Daddy got it. Then we started walking out.
One of the walls of the hallway was glass, and there were tons of people looking in. When we got out, it was like a mob. Also, there was no one to meet us, so we took a taxi over to the hotel with a nice man. To me, since I spoke Armenian to everyone, it felt like they were all were my close relatives, because back at home, only my close relatives know Armenian. Then we got to the hotel and paid the taxi driver. When we went inside to check-in, there was a little trouble finding Daddy's reservation. In the end, they found it listed under the company's name, but we were lucky the room wasn't full tonight, because the reservation didn't start till tomorrow. Then the porter took our bags to our room and then he talked with us for a while. He was a very nice man. Then, at 11:30pm, we went to the business center to chat with Mommy. We left the business center at 12:30am and went back to our room. We ordered room service. I got spaghetti bolognese, which I shared with Daddy, and he got French onion soup. The room service took a while to come. In the meantime, I started my book Rifles for Watie, and Daddy tried to fix a problem on the computer. The room service arrived at 1:00am. The food was really good. After we ate, I got ready for bed. Then, at 2:00am, we went to bed.

"Sunday, June 27, 2004"

Today we both woke up at 12:00pm. Daddy stayed in bed while first read my book, then I did yesterdays journal. After writing the journal, we a call from the conference people. They wanted to go to lunch. I played some computer and Daddy took a shower, then we went to the buffet for lunch. After I ate, I went to the room. I played some Falcon while the women cleaned the room, then I read my book. When Daddy came back, at 3:45pm, we went to a bazaar near the hotel. It was very interesting. There were a lot of cool stuff. We got some presents for the family, and then we left right when it closed, at 6:00pm. Then we went back to the hotel, got changed, and went to the opera. We were there at 6:45pm, 15min later then the meeting time. We were getting

very worried by 7:00pm. The opera started in 15min! Then we saw the conference guys. They had the tickets, but the ticket taker said there was a miscount and there was no room for me and Daddy. All the others had tickets, but they didn't have the seats for us. We quickly devised a plan. The first guy in the group would give the ticket taker a bunch of tickets, then we'd all go in at once. It worked! Unfortunately, we still had to find seats for ourselves. We figured I would sit on Daddy's lap. Then one of the guys found a nearly empty box. We went from no seat, to me sitting on Daddy's lap, to a whole box nearly to ourselves. We joked that this is where they put the president.

The opera started at 7:15pm. It was about a girl named Anush. Anush is in love with a boy.
The problem is, the mother doesn't like the boy and doesn't want Anush to marry. Then there is a holiday scene. The whole village is at a summer picnic holiday. There, Anush's brother and two other boys and Anush's boyfriend and two other boys, both good friends, play a game of tug-of-war. Anush's boyfriend beats Anush's brother and then the brother is sore and becomes enemies with Anush's boyfriend. In the next scene, there is a wedding. There, Anush's boyfriend and Anush's brother have a rematch, this time at wrestling. Anush's boyfriend wins again. Then the brother is really sore. Then Anush and her boyfriend run away. Then, while Anush's boyfriend is hunting, Anush's brother shoots and kills him. Then Anush finds the body and then she kills herself by jumping off a cliff. The guy sitting next to me knew the story, and he explained it to us, since the words were hard to understand. I liked the story a lot.

Then, at 10:00pm, we arrived at a party at one of the conference guys apartment. His family comes to spend the summer in Armenia every year, but they live in Boston. The apartment was really nice. There were cakes and fruit at the party. I wanted to leave quickly, because we still had to eat and it was getting late. I had a little piece of cake, then, 11:30pm, we left the party. We went back to the hotel and ordered room service. I got some club sandwiches and Daddy got minestrone soup. While we waited for it to come, I read my book and we got ready for bed. After we ate, at 1:00pm, we went to bed. Tomorrow, the conference will start.

"Monday, June 28, 2004"

This morning I woke up at 7:15am. I read my book, Rifles for Watie, then I did yesterdays journal and played some computer. At 9:00am, we went down to the buffet to eat breakfast. Guess who I saw there? Mr. and Mrs. Derderian and their daughter, Kim Derderian. Daddy had met them yesterday at the opera, but we didn't know we were in the same hotel. We had breakfast, then they invited me to join them

on a city tour. I gladly accepted. We started at 10:00am. We had a car with driver and tour guide. These are some of the places we went.

On our way to the first stop, Victory Park, we saw these things:

  1. Sarkahav Square. Sarkahav was a Russian scientist and physician and great friend of the Armenians who supported them during the Karabagh war.
  2. The Armenian National Security Building, formerly a KGB building.
  3. An obelisk that celebrated 14 years of Soviet rule in Armenia. Ironically, there was a symbol of eternity on the obelisk.
    1. We got to Victory Park. The first thing we saw there was an eternal flame commemorating the death of unknown Armenian soldiers during World War II. 500,000 Armenians participated in World War II for the Soviet Union. 104 Armenian heroes were designated by the Soviet Union for outstanding performance in the war, which shows the great courage of the Armenian people. In the park, we also saw Mother Armenia, who is a lady holding a sword. Then we saw some old Russian military vehicles. We saw two tanks, an armored troop carrier, an early Mig, and a AAA truck. From Victory Park, which was on a hill, we had a panoramic view of the city and Mount Ararat.
  4. Before leaving the center of the city, we went to see the big statue of Tamanyan, the early designer of Yerevan. His plans for the city are still used today.
  5. Then we went to the Genocide Memorial. The memorial was on the outskirts of the city. It was built for the anniversary of the Genocide. The memorial is made of three parts. The first part is the mourning wall, which displays the names of Armenian cities affected by the genocide on one side. On the other side, it shows the names of people who have written books about the it. The second part is the obelisk. It is made of two towers, one smaller and the other bigger, which fit together with a small gap to form one tower. The one part stands for the Armenians living in the country. The other part stands for Armenians living abroad. The tower looks like a gigantic blade of grass, symbolizing the new birth and re-growth of the Armenian people. The third part is the structure holding the eternal flame. It consists of 12 inward facing square stone columns, each symbolizing a region of Old Armenia. In the middle is the eternal flame. It is in a pit and the flame is in a star shaped holder. The holder has a symbol of eternity on it. There was a museum, but it was closed.

I felt very sad, but proud that we remained a country.

This tour gave me a totally different view of Armenia.

We got back to the hotel at 1:00pm. We then had lunch with the Derderians outside in front of the hotel. I got a hamburger. Daddy joined us. We finished eating at 2:30pm. Daddy went to the conference and I went back to the room to read my book. At 6:00pm, Daddy came up and we played some Medal of Honor, then I played some Falcon. At 7:00pm, we had a reception downstairs with appetizers. After that, at 8:00pm, we went to dinner at an Italian place in the hotel, called La Cucina. I had tortellini bolognese. It was really good. Then we went to the business center to talk to Mommy on chat. Then at 12:00am, after I read Rifles for Watie for a while, and finished it, we went to bed.

"Tuesday, June 29, 2004"

This morning I woke up at 10:00am. This morning we were going on a tour to Khor Virab, where St. Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for 13 years spreading Christianity in Armenia. I got dressed and went downstairs to go, but it was raining. Mr. Derderian found a sweater for me to put on, and at 10:30am, we started the tour. We got there at 11:30am and we started up the hill to the church. The first place we went was the cell where St. Gregory was imprisoned for 13 years. We had to go straight down a 25 rung ladder and then down a 5 step step-ladder. We were then in the cell. We saw the hole where a woman lowered him bread and water to keep him alive. We also saw the cross that he prayed at. He was eventually freed because, according to a legend, King Terdat the same dream three times, which showed that St. Gregory the Illuminator was the only one that could return the king to his original state. The king had been turned into a boar when he arrested St. Gregory. St. Gregory then brought him back to his original state, and then baptized the king and his family and Christianity was made the state religion.

We then went to see the on-site church. There we lit candles and took some pictures. We then found a bird's nest in the chandelier. Then we went to take some pictures off the side of the hill. This church is the closest point to Mount Ararat. Then we went back to the car. After driving about 5 minutes, we discovered that Kim's notebook was missing. We went back and looked around. Then Mr. Derderian went back into the prison and found it down there. Then we left again. This time there was no mishap, and we got back to the hotel at 1:00pm. When we got back, we had pizza in the hotel restaurant. Then Daddy went back to the conference, and I went to the room to read my book. I finished two of them. At 5:30pm, I stopped reading and played some computer, then at 6:20pm, I went downstairs to remind Daddy of

the dance at the opera house. We left the hotel at 6:40pm, and at 6:50pm, we got to the opera. We walked around to try to find something for me to eat, but there was nothing. Then we went in the opera. There were an almost more women then men. They did many dances, sometimes the boys and girls seperated, sometimes together. I enjoyed myself very much, and I was very amazed at how fast the men could dance. After the opera, at 9:15pm, we went to eat at a old Armenian restaurant with some of the other conference guys. The restaurant was both very good and very interesting. There was a band with three dudugs and a drum. For a couple of the songs, they added singing or dancing. Sometimes they added a big drum. I had some trout and some kebab. At 12:30am, we arrived back at the hotel. We got ready for bed, then at 1:00am, we went to bed.

"Wednesday, June 30, 2004"

Today Daddy woke me up at 10:00am. I quickly got ready and at 10:30am, we left for Lake Sevan. On the way, we stopped at a mountain with obsidian rock all over it. We stopped to get some. I got eight pieces. I was going to give them to different family members. Then we continued toward Lake Sevan. When we got there, we drove to the partway up a hill, where there was a church. We got out of the car and walked up the rest of it. At the top, we saw someone painting some beautiful watercolor paintings. The man also had some smooth rocks, which were oil painted. I bought one for Luke. We also took some pictures of lake Sevan from the top of the hill. Then we went in the church. I lit some candles and took some pictures, then we went back outside. Outside, we saw three monks. We stopped and took a picture with them. Then we went back down the hill. When we got to the car, we saw a restaurant. Since it was lunchtime, we decided to eat. Everyone had lulu kebab. It was not bad. Then we went back to the car. Next we went to Dilijan. On the way there we passed through a tunnel. On the other side, the world was completely transformed. There were trees everywhere and there were lots of hills. It looked kind of like Switzerland. We drove for quite a bit then we started driving up a mountain. At the top there was a church complex. There was a church, a great hall with stumps for seats and tables, a sleeping room with a stove, and the tomb of an Armenian king. Some people were filming a documentary at the church, so we had to be quiet part of the time. Then we went back to the hotel. We got back to the hotel at 6:00pm. After a little while, we went to eat dinner at La Cucina. I had penne. Then we went to talk to Mommy on chat. At 12:30am, Daddy sent me back to the room to get ready for bed. After I was ready, I read for a while, then at 2:00am, I went to bed.

"Thursday, July 1, 2004"

This morning I woke up at 12:00pm. Daddy was still asleep, so I played some computer, then at 1:30pm we went down for lunch. We talked to some people, then we asked the doorman for recommendations on where to eat, and he pointed us down the street to a Lebanese restaurant. We got there at 2:00pm. We quickly ordered, since Daddy had a 3:00pm meeting. I got pork kebab. It was really good. Then we quickly hurried to the hotel to go to the car that was supposed to pick Daddy up at 3:00pm, but something happened and it wasn't there. Then he tried to find the director of the conference, Berge Ayvazyan, because he was supposed to go with him. Meanwhile, I was in the room playing Falcon. Eventually, Daddy found him and they went to the place. At the hotel room, I played computer and read some FoxTrot. Daddy got back from all his meetings at 7:30pm. He came up to the room and told me to change into my suit quickly, because we were going to the July party. The party was in the hotel. They had some desserts including fruit tarts and brownies. There were many embassy officials including two military Lieutenant Kernels and one Major. We talked with them for a while, and found out that one of them, the Lieutenant Kernel, was on our same flight out of Yerevan. Daddy then talked to Berge for a while. After this, I got the camera and I got a picture with the military guys. At 9:00pm, we left the party and had dinner at La Cucina. Tonight I had lasagna. It was ok, so I also had some of Daddy's beef, which was really good. Then we tried to talk to Mommy, but Navpoint, the Internet server, was down. Then we went back to the room. We played some Falcon, then we got ready for bed. Finally, at 12:30am, we went to bed.

"Friday, July 2, 2004"

Today I woke up at 10:00am. Daddy was still asleep, so I played some computer. I also read some FoxTrot. Then, at 12:00pm, Daddy woke up. We both read for a while, than at 1:30pm we went to have lunch. Before leaving, we arranged a tour for 2:30 that afternoon. Then we went to try to find a new restaurant. We walked for a couple blocks, but we didn't find another restaurant. Then we decided to go back to the Lebanese place. This time I got chicken kebab with rice. We also got some hummus and Armenian bread. The whole meal was really good. Then we went back to the hotel. We were a little early for the tour. We washed up, then we went to get in the cab. We had hired a cab to take us around to see some sights. First we went to Victory Park and then the Genocide Memorial, both of which I have previously described. Then we went to The Church of St. Hrepseme. There was a wedding going on there. We watched the wedding for a while, then we went to look around outside. A nun followed us, and told us that it was an insult to go in the church and not visit the tomb of St. Hrepseme. She asked us to, if we would, go in and see it. I thought it might be interesting. We went inside, walked to the

front left of the church, and went down a narrow passageway. There was a piece of carved stone inside, with a picture of St. Hrepseme on it. Then we went back up and left the church.

The next church we went to was Echmiadzin. We went inside and tried to go inside the museum, but the driver told us it was closed at 4:00pm. We were an hour late. We looked around, but we weren't allowed to take pictures of the altar, the prettiest part. We then walked around outside for a while, then we left to go to the ruins of an old church. There were a lot of pillars and we got a great picture of Mount Ararat. The ruins reminded me of Stonehenge. When we left, the people in the ticket booth told us a little about the church. It used to be nearly 150' high! It was built in the century, but was destroyed by an earthquake in the century. Then we went back to the hotel. When we got back at 6:00pm, we relaxed for a while, then did some packing and went down to eat. I had beef, the same thing Daddy had yesterday. Then we went to the business center to talk with Mommy. Unfortunately, she wasn't home. I read my E-mails, then we went up to go to bed. Then, at 11:00pm, we went to bed.

"Saturday, July 3, 2004"

Today I woke up at 5:30am. We quickly got dressed and packed the last things. Then we went downstairs to check out. It took a little while because the computer system was still turning the day. They checked us out another way, and at 6:00am, we left the hotel in a taxi. The taxi driver that took us touring the other day had agreed to come at 6:00am to take us to the airport. We got to the airport at 6:15am. We checked in and we had to wait a little while for the manager to come regarding checking our baggage to PHL. Apparently, they didn't know they could do that. They did it, and by 6:30am we were in the gate. Three people had told us that we should leave the hotel at 6:00am, but apparently, they were wrong. We had a long wait on our hands right now. I played computer most of the time, and at 8:30am, we got on the plane. The plane took off at 9:15am. On the way to Frankfurt, I played some computer and read some FoxTrot. The plane landed in Frankfurt 45min late, at 10:45am local time, 1:45pm Armenia time. We ran off the plane and onto the bus. A couple minutes later, the bus left the plane and started off toward the terminal. When the bus stopped, we sprinted to the monorail to go to Terminal 1. The monorail left as soon as we got on, and it sped to Terminal 1. When we got off the monorail, we dashed to the gate. Once we got there, at 11:15am, we found out that our flight was delayed from 11:45am to 1:20pm! We were very relieved. We waited in line to check in, and then at 12:15pm, we got checked in. I was kind of hungry, so Daddy went to get me a sandwich. While he got the sandwich, I

played Falcon. He came back with sparkling cider, water, a ham sandwich, nacho chips, and pretzels. I ate it, and then we got on the plane. The plane took off at 1:50pm. Fortunately, it was a Airbus A320, a plane with built-in TV screens. Most of the time I watched TV. Toward the end of the flight, I slept a little. The plane landed at 3:50pm local time. We went through immigration, got the luggage, went through customs, and then went into the international arrivals waiting hall. There, right behind the barricade, were Luke, Peter, Auntie, Mommy, and Catherine. We ran up to them and said hi, then we left to go home.

I had fully enjoyed the trip. The trip gave me an entirely different impression of Armenia.
I felt proud of my heritage because I had seen the people, the lifestyle, the personality. And even though I didn't see everything, I knew that someday I would come back and see more.
And I will look forward to that until it happens.