Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Relaxing, Rainy, but Fun Day!

Today I was still exhausted and had a low appetite. It was raining again today, too. A great museum day, huh? So Sara (the doctor from Iran who is staying in the same place as I am) and I decided to see a couple of museums.

It seems that Sara and I have very similar interests. The National Historical Museum of Armenia and the National Gallery of Art are in the same building. We both were much more interested in history and chose to see that. It showed more artifacts from Urartu, maps and pictures depicting the old historical Armenia, which at one point in time went from Lake Van in Southeast Turkey to Lake Sevan in Northeastern Armenia (within the borders of the Armenian Republic today), to Lake Orumiyeh in Northwestern Iran. Also some carpet, textile, and traditional costume displays. Very good around. Some of the displays had English captions, others did not. Of course, you could get an English-speaking guide, like in the Matenadaran manuscripts collection, but that cost extra, more than the admission ticket itself.

After that we hit the Sergei Paradjanov Museum, which is in Paradjanov's former house, right on top of the Hrazdan River. Paradjanov was an Armenian film director, who got into trouble with the Soviet authorities. They put him in a mental hospital or something like that. His former house is now decorated with his artwork. He did some really bizarre collages, the meanings of which are very unclear. His collage depicting The Last Supper, showing Stalin and Khruschev....well, that should give you some idea. Finding this museum was a bit of a chore, because when we thought we were at the right place, the road ended and turned into a dirt track. Of course we had no idea that we could just keep going and it would be there, and as usual there were no signs.

Isn't it great that many museums in Armenia are open on Sunday? After the museums Sara and I had dinner. We decided to try traditional Armenian-style barbecue, and the street that has most of them was right near the Paradjanov Museum on Proshian Street. We had dinner at a barbecue house called "Caesar's Palace". We were taken up and outside to the terrace level, and then into a private room. We ordered some barbecue and spent several hours eating it. Our room was so far away from the main building that we had to ring a bell for the waiter to come.

The waiter was a bit odd. This seems to be typical Armenian style in restaurants. The service was good, but a bit slow. The menu is in English but most of the waiters understand English very poorly. When I asked for a coffee at the end, it said on the menu that they had something called "Eastern Coffee". I asked the waiter if this was the same as traditional Armenian coffee, which is the same as Greek or Turkish style (very strong, served in small cups, brewed in a pot with hot water and no filter). He said, "No, it's Eastern Coffee". When I received it, it sure looked and tasted like Armenian coffee as I knew it. It seems he had no idea what he was serving me or something.

Beyond that, though, it was a lovely day. I got to know Sara some, and I have to say she is one of the most sensitive, intelligent, and thoughtful people that I have met recently. We definitely will be in touch after we both go home to our respective countries.

Anyway, I gotta go now. Some of those Georgian heavy-metal players have just invited me over for a chat. See you soon!


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