Kim Kardashian-West’s 2019 trip to Armenia was pretty much the pixel-perfect getaway you’d expect from bonafide Instagram royalty. The reality TV queen started reconnecting with her Armenian roots in 2015 when she visited the country to commemorate the centenary of the Armenian genocide, and her latest tour once again brought forth her serious celebrity clout as influencer, businesswoman, and activist.
We summed up a mini-itinerary of the media empress’ latest trip:
1. Kim was baptised along with three of her four children in one of the oldest churches in the world, the Etchmiadzin Cathedral in Vagharshapat, built in 301 AD
2. She took a break to give a speech at the World Congress on Information Technology
3. She made time to visit the Armenian Genocide Museum
4. She stopped in at the Roman Temple of Garni
5. She met the Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who came to power in May 2018 after mass protests in his support
6. She also dined with Armenian President Armen Sarkissian
Thank you Armenia for such a memorable trip. So blessed to have been baptized along with my babies at Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Armenia’s main cathedral which is sometimes referred to as the Vatican of the Armenian Apostolic Church. This church was built in 303 AD. pic.twitter.com/bUrzHfyh3p
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) October 10, 2019
But we think Kim can do better. Or, provided you’re not busy talking to the most important political figures in the country, at least you can. The past is definitely important. But when it comes to Armenia today, we’ve got you covered with the best the country has on offer.
Here’s everything you should do on your next trip to Armenia:
Forget museums: the best way to immerse yourself in Armenian culture is to get lost in Yerevan’s open-air market, the Vernissage. Wander around hundreds of stalls to admire traditional arts and crafts, hunt for Soviet relics, browse through piles of vinyls, or even try to play the duduk, an Armenian flute that features in the soundtrack of the film Gladiator, among many others. An hour in the Vernissage is like a journey through centuries of local history and culture.
Hop on a marshrutka or a shared taxi and head to Lake Sevan, one of the largest alpine lakes in the world, just one hour away from Armenia’s capital Yerevan. Climb up the stairs to the monastery to enjoy the best views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. On your way down, treat yourself to a local beer and the best fish in the country in one of the many restaurants on the shore.
There is probably no other famous figure or place in Yerevan that captures Armenian culture better than Soviet film director Sergei Parajanov and his house museum. An internationally acclaimed great master of cinema, Parajanov has paid tribute to the art and poetry of Armenia in his 1969 film The Colour of Pomegranates, for which he got imprisoned and put into labour camps under the contested charges of “homosexuality and illegal trafficking in religious icon”. His 19th-century timber house on the edge of Yerevan’s city centre is crammed with collages, drawings, photographs, and assemblages created by the experimental filmmaker, famous for including traditional Armenian folk symbols and references in his award-winning films. An eccentric, engaging, and disconcerting immersion into Armenian culture, Parajanov’s house is the go-to place for art-lovers.
As the sun starts to go down, buy a bottle (or two) of Armenian wine and climb up the Cascade, the capital’s giant limestone staircase. Yerevan is called the pink city because of its unique panoramic views of sun-kissed buildings at sunset. If you’re in good company, the silhouette of Mount Ararat at dusk is a great background for a golden hour chat or simple contemplation of the beauty of nature.
If you’re looking for traditional Armenian food with a contemporary twist, then Dolmama is your go-to dinner spot. As you walk in, the carpets, artwork, and intimate candle-lit rooms will instantly make you feel like you are sitting in the dining room of an Armenian home. Make sure you try the tomato and goats’ cheese salad, the lamb khorovats with mulberry glaze, and Dolmama’s signature fig roll. To finish the meal and prepare for the night, have a glass of Ararat cognac: a favourite of former British war leader Winston Churchill and a great conversation starter.
The best way to explore any city is meeting people who actually live there, and Yerevan is no exception. As the locals say, in this underground bar, “it’s always Friday night”. Decorated with flags and prints from all over the world, Calumet is one of the most multicultural spaces in Yerevan. Get a very reasonably priced drink, lay down on a bean bag or join a random table, and meet locals and travellers from all over the world while listening to experimental music from local bands.