Levon – Skating to Freedom

Freedom! What is freedom for people? Many people have differnet opinions about it. One thinks it’s a financial freedom, the others thinks it’s making free decisions, next one thinks it’s living alone, etc. Yes! All these are freedoms. I also didn’t have a clear idea of freedom, but recently I’ve found out for myself. But before explaining my point of view, let me write about a man who is well known in whole Yerevan.

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He is not a superstar, not a political figure, doesn’t work on TV, neither is celebrity, nor rich! As he calls himself, he is a free person. His name is Levon Abgaryan. He is a man who puts on his skates, turns on his earphones high on his music player and starts to skate all over the city. Yes! He doesn’t pay attention to anything, or anybody. He doesn’t care about the traffic, he doesn’t care what people think of him, or that people may think he’s nuts. Some people really think so, because he skates in the traffic so freely and is not scared at all. I myself have seen him a lot and every time I was like “ohhh my God, this car is gonna hit him”, “His gonna fall” “What is he doing? He’s nuts!”. But surprisingly and fortunately he’s alive and HAPPY! These are his words! He is a happy person.

 

 

 

Months ago nobody had an idea who he is, how does he live, what kind of job does he have, but as the interest to him around the whole population grew, some producers decided to shoot a video of him. This was the one and only time he spoke and told about himself. It turned out that he lives alone, doesn’t work at all and lives WITHOUT MONEY! This is what he told. He claims that he is a free spirit, he is free of this regime, his soul doesn’t know borders, he flies wherever his heart tell him to, he doesn’t need anything more to be happy, just freedom. And what is the most surprising, is that it turned out, that Levon has been living and working abroad, for a very long time and was a pretty wealthy person, but he left everything he had, money, power, luxury life and came to his hometown to live absolutely free of everything.

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After his story, I think I’ve understood what is real freedom and independence. Yes, I think many people wouldn’t want that, but that’s because freedom is only for those who can handle it. Living independent, on your own and do not care about stereotypes, being able to refuse money and luxury and material comfort is for a brave and strong people. I’m personally not sure, could I live like that, but in one thing I’m pretty sure, I really do admire him. So here is a video, where Levon tells about his life, his values and his dreams and his freedom!

Armenian Old New Year

Did you know that the Old New Year is still a traditional holiday celebrated on 14th of January according to Julian Calendar.

The celebration starts on 13th January at 12:00. Even though it’s become an informal holiday, armenians still gather and enjoy the beginning of a Year, this year the Republic Square will host annual concert despite the cold weather.

People of Armenia  look forward the magic moments and realizations of dreams for the coming  New Year.

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Armenians have been celebrating 3 New Year Holidays : Kaghand, Navasard, New Year.

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Ancient Armenians  were celebrating New Year on 21st of March : the vernal equinox day and also the birthday of the mythical God Vahangn, in whom believed the pagan Armenians about 10 thousand years ago? The hero of the Holiday /Armenian Santa was Kaghand Papy/ Kagand Grandpa.  The typical food for Kaghand consists of beans, lentils, dry fruit, nuts. The most important from the eatables is “Tary hats” / Year Bread. “Big mamas” of the family put coin inside the bread and the one who get it, according to the tradition, get a lot of fortune for the upcoming year.

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Navsard, which was celebrated in 1th of November is the day when Forefather Hayk won Titanian Bel. This celebration was accompanied by traditional songs and dances, traditional food and collective events.

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And after the 18th century Calendar reform made by Simeon Yerevantsy . Armenians started celebrate The New Year on the 1st of January. many traditions of Kaghand and Navasard are maintained nowadays, some of them are modernized  and changed.

After the Soviet Union New Year holiday got some soviet traditions , changed some traditional staff and become quite original.

Almost all the Armenians do a lot of preparations for it. Some people /especially armenian women/ are busy on cooking, cleaning, decorations, new dresses, some people / esp. men/ busy on buying New Year meals ingredients /meat, dry fruit, drinks/ , some of us make a lists of relatives to visit and many young people just get together and spend good time 😉

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Everybody likes New Years’s dishes, everybody enjoy cooking and testing it wherever they go. Almost all Armenians have dolma, khorovats/ barbeque, qyufta, ishly qyufta  or any other interesting traditional dish with meat, dry fruit and different types of nuts, fruit and traditional sweets like gata, choreg, pakhlava on their festive table.

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And it’s important to have drinks on the table to make good tosts and wishes for the coming year.

Usually The President congratulate everybody for the upcoming year on TV, then the same does the Catholicos on armenian TV and the celebration of Amanor / Nor Tari (New Year) considered to be officially opened.

 

There is some magic in all this activity, enjoy the beginning of the New Year, New Hope and New Beginnings. Spend it with those whom you love and who love you and of course visit Armenia. Believe me you’ll enjoy armenian holidays !

 

Birthday of Yerevan (2769)

We all know that last weekend there was a great celebration in Yerevan: The City Day.  On 10th of October there was an international conference on Yerevan’s development prospects. The day was very interesting with its various events going on in different parts of the city. In front of the City Hall of Yerevan a huge event took place. There were kids from Schools, Universities partaking in this event. Many dance groups performed traditional Armenian dances and a lot of flash mobs took place.

Yerevan City Hall

Yard of the Yerevan City Hall

In the early morning the street washing trucks went around the city washing the streets for the upcoming event, and didn’t miss the monuments as well, as they represent some part of the Yerevan culture.

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Pahlevan; This is a traditional Armenian entertainer who used to be invited to every wedding and event in Armenia back in the day. What he does is mainly walking on a string balancing. 

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Pahlevan

Even though it might sound strange, but there was a windsurfing event in the heart of Yerevan, in the Swan Lake, near the Opera House. And though the weather wasn’t really windy, the participants still managed to windsurf. WINDSURFING FOREVER!

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Windsurfing in Swan Lake

How strange would have been a celebration without a Farmers’ Market? So there was one organized in special for the City Day (even though there is always a Farmers’ Market every weekend in Yerevan). So, the guests of our capital were able to try out the pure and fresh fruits and vegetables of Armenian farmers.

Open air market - Armenia / Yerevan

And the Final chord of the celebration and basically the culmination of the day was the great Fireworks’ Show after the big concert with the participation of famous Armenian stars. The Firework Show was a really huge one as it was heard in all parts of the city. Literally, one could hear it from anywhere in Yerevan.

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Fireworks – Republic Square

 

 

Yerevan City Celebrates it’s 2796 Anniversary !!

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Yerevan City is one of the world’s oldest cities and  it always looks modern and attractive in it’s colors.

This beautiful heart of Armenia has been the capital since 1918, though the history of Yerevan startes from the 8th century BC, with the founding of the fortress of Erebuni by Urartian King Argishti.  At those times in history  it was predominantly  named Erebuni , that’s why usually we call it Erebuni- Yerevan. And on it’s celebration you’ll notice Erebuni’s name on festive posters.  

Yerevan has started it’s celebration after some discoveries of 1950s. In the autumn of 1950  an archaeological expedition found out  an inscription, whish says : ” By the greatness of the God Khaldi, Argishti, son of Menua, built this mighty stronghold and proclaimed it Erebuni for the glory of Biainili (Urartu) and to instill fear among the king’s enemies. Argishti says: The land was a desert, before the great works I accomplished upon it. By the greatness of Khaldi, Argishti, son of Menua, is a mighty king, king of Biainili, and ruler of Tushpa ”  /Israelyan. Erebuni, p. 9/ Every Yerevan –resident is proud of being a  capital-citizen having this historical heritage behind.

The first official celebration of  Erebuni- Yerevan was held in October 1968, the city’s 2,750th anniversary was commemorated. Every Year Yerevan’s anniversary   is celebrated with great fanfare. Every time new festive concert in different parts of the city, new performances, exhibitions and all the possible to imagine.

This year, we will have more and varied activities :  Festive parade, Marathon, Concerts, Games, Sportive activities. Tournaments…

Here is the list of activities fixed by Yerevan Municipality:

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The area adjacent to Erebouni historical and archaeological reserve-museum-Erebouni street

 

  • 14.00 Exhibition of the folk artworks, national costumes, cuisine
  • 15.00 National games
  • 16.00 Concert “Yerevan of young musicians”
  • 16.30 Competition of rope-walkers
  • 17.00 Concert of national and folk music
  • 19.00 Conert-program «There is a festival in Yerevan…»

 

12.10.2014.

  • 10.00 Flashmob-parade of water sprinkling trucks along the streets of Yerevan
  • 10.30 Yerevan-ART stage /Saryan park/

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  • 11.00 Flashmob-washing of the monuments of Yerevan
  • 12.00 “Yerevan sketches” exposition of urban development projects /nearby the monument to architect Tamanyan/

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  • 13.00 Open-air exhibition of children & youth works /nearby the national center of aesthetics after Henrikh Igityan, Abovyan 13/
  • 14.00 Festive parade /from the Municipality of Yerevan to Republic square/

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  • 14.30 Marathon race of 2796 m /from Matenadaran along Sayat-Nova, Abovyan street to Republic square/
  • 15.00 Choreographic show “My old and new Yerevan” /Republic square/
  • 15.00 “Yerevan for children” – Children’s festive stage /puppet shows, entertaining games, clowns, conjurers, fairytale heroes, etc./ Children’s park after Kirov/
  • 15.00 Students’ stage /Conservatoire park/
  • 15.00 “Festive stroll” theatrical-ballet performance/Northern avenue/

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  • 15.00 “Sportive Yerevan” sport-show / Azatutyan-Freedom square /

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  • 15.00 “Three phases of time” photography pavilions /The service entrance to the National Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet/
  • 15.30 “Peoples of the world greet you” stage /Performances of national minorities living in Yerevan & ethnic ensembles /Stepan Shahumyan square/
  • 15.30 Concert of national and folk music /Crossroad of Mashtots-Buzand streets/
  • 15.30 “Yerevan games” competitions of Yerevan yard games /English park, nearby to the Sundukyan theatre/

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  • 15.30 “Yerevan singing” karaoke-stage /Ch. Aznavour square/
  • 16.00 Windsurfing show /Swan’s Lake/

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  • 16.30 Cycling races /Argishti street-Italy street- Nalbandyan street-Sayat Nova avenue- Mashtots avenue-Isakov avenue up to Yerevan cycle track/
  • 17.00 Chess tournament with famous chess players/Ch. Aznavour square/

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  • 17.00 “Yerevan dance” national dance stage / Azatutyan-Freedom square/
  • 17.00 Classical music stage /Conservatoire square/
  • 17.30 Pop concert / Stepan Shahumyan square/
  • 18.00 Jazz concert stage /Cascade complex, Cafesjian Center for the Arts/
  • 18.30 Bard singers stage /Moskovyan park/

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  • 19.30 “Yerevan – my home” Gala-concert /Republic square/
  • 20.00 “Yerevan Rocks” rock-concert /Azatutyan-Freedom square/
  • 22.00 Youth disco /Republic square/


Vernissage – an Open-Air Market and Just a Fun Place

Have you ever been to Vernissage? Not just any vernissage, but the one in Yerevan. For those who don’t know, Vernissage is an open-air market in the center of Yerevan, where you can buy just about anything, for instance handmade souvenirs, paintings, national costumes and accessories, musical instruments, jewelry, carpets, books, CDs and DVDs, kitchen utensils, spare parts, and even pets (but attention, they don’t sell food!).

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It is very close to the Republic Square, and is situated between Nalbandyan and Khanjyan streets. If you are not successful in finding the place, just ask the locals. I’m sure there is not a single person in Yerevan who doesn’t know where Vernissage is.

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The market is open on weekends. There are no exact opening hours, but if you go there between 10 am to 5 pm, you are very likely to find what you are looking for.

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I usually go to Vernissage to buy some souvenirs or books, but not only. Sometimes I go there just to enjoy its colors and atmosphere, its sounds and its beauty. Because Vernissage is a place where you can enjoy the colors of Armenia! Red, blue, orange, purple, green, and many other colors that you can see on carpets, scarves, paintings, bags… I’m sure Vernissage will make your visit to Armenia even more pleasant.

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Here are some quick tips for those who are going to visit Vernissage.

  • There are no fixed prices, so if you think the goods are overpriced, don’t hesitate to bargain. Sellers usually speak some English and Russian (although they are not always fluent), and some of them may know other European languages, so don’t hesitate to engage in a conversation with them.
  • It would be nice to have some small change. The thing is that especially in the morning the salespersons may not have enough money to give you change, and they will ask you to wait until they find some (though it doesn’t take long, usually a few minutes).
  • If you are going to buy something big and heavy, it would be good to have a reusable shopping bag with you. You will of course get a plastic bag in the market, but it may be too thin for your heavy souvenir.
  • If you are interested in a particular book, just ask the sellers. They usually have even very old and rare Armenian books.

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Hope you will enjoy your lazy afternoon here in Vernissage.

A newly opened place! “Café Abovyan 12 & Dalan Art Gallery”

There is a souvenir shop in the center of Yerevan that I visit every time I am in Armenia to buy presents for my friends in Japan. It’s called Dalan Art Gallery. Why art gallery? Because they not only sell souvenirs but also exhibit works of contemporary Armenian artists. You can go there and enjoy art works without paying any entrance fees, as well as have a pleasant conversation with their staff. The exhibition is different every time, so if you visit the place once in a while, you can enjoy works of different artists, and what’s more important, you can know what’s going on in Yerevan’s art life.

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This time I went there as usual to look at some souvenirs and I discovered that they had opened a lovely café! It’s in the backyard; you go there right through the souvenir shop and find yourself in this very green and a little rustic space right in the center of Yerevan. This outdoor café and restaurant serves Armenian style barbeque, tolma, salads, and many other popular Armenian dishes. They have an open kitchen, and you can actually see what and how they cook, what ingredients they use, etc. Unfortunately I went there right after lunch, so I was too full to eat, but I didn’t spare my chance to have a glass of beer and engage in conversation with the staff. Next time I go there, I’m definitely going to try some delicious barbeque, yum-yum.

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What I really loved here is the atmosphere! This is such an amazing, green little café that will make you relax and enjoy even the hottest Yerevan days. And I am also sure you will enjoy talking with the staff, too. They (well, some of them) speak not only English and Russian, but also German, and sometimes other foreign languages. They also told me they have regular cooking lessons for foreigners and Armenians who want to learn to cook amazing Armenian dishes. If you have always wanted to learn how to cook tolma, here you go!

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Address: Abovyan street 12

It’s just 5 minutes’ walk from the Republic Square. You walk to Abovyan street and go straight for several minutes until you see Dalan Art Gallery.

Music of the streets

A night September evening, you know one of those evenings when you cannot stay home. You have to go out and feel the fresh air at the night atmosphere all around you. I was not an exception and went out with a few of my friends. We had a great time, we had dinner and went then went out for a walk in Downtown Yerevan. You know, especially at this time of year Yerevan is the most beautiful in the evenings, well at least for me. There are always a lot of people walking, there are always something going on in the city: And that evening was not an exception. While walking around we heard sounds of music playing. It turned out that there was a live concert almost in the heart of Yerevan on the Swan Lake. There were lot of people gathered and there was a special stage in the center of the lake, made special for that occasion. It was pretty loud and the music was nice. But I felt something was missing. So we turned around and were about to leave. When I suddenly saw a Vibraphone standing close to the crowd.  I thought there would be a musician playing on it. But I just could not see anyone around the instrument. I just burst out wondering: “Where is the musician, isn’t he here?” The question was not addressed to anyone specifically, it was more like a rhetoric one. But some old guy appeared next to me and answered: “He Is here I will call him now, just hang on”.

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And there appeared the musician. He turned out to be one of the very few musicians playing on this instrument. He performed a wonderful piece of Arno Babajanyan’s nocturne. Although there was the huge concert going on in the background this guy managed to get so much attention and to give us so much positive energy with his wonderful and powerful performance.
This is how small things can be more enjoyable and more powerful than the bigger ones.

Yerevan and its Fountains

Yerevan is a really beautiful city. It has many many nice parks in almost all parts of the city. It has beautiful squares, theaters and nice buildings. But what I like the most in Yerevan are its numerous fountains. There are all kinds and all shapes of them.

Have a look at these ones below, they both are in different parks in Yerevan.

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Another fountain here is probably one of the most original ones in Yerevan.

 

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So, as you can see, this one is unique because the water goes down not up. This is the fountain on famous Cascade(on the right).

Actually, this same Cascade museum has so many interesting and unique fountains. And all of them are one of the favorite places of young couples to visit.

Of course, like in every city of the world, Yerevan has its main fountains, the so called “mother of the fountains”. And the “mother” is located right in the heart of Yerevan, in Republic Square. Please, see them in the picture below.

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These fountains are actually SINGING. Don’t be surprised. They really sing. If you happen to come to Yerevan in summer (coz usually at this time of the year the fountains in the city are on) then you will be able to enjoy a wonderful show which starts every evening at 8 pm. The fountains sing and dance. There are always a lot of people from all over Armenia and all over the world who are there to see these singing and dancing. And what is interesting they not only dance, but they inspire the people watching to dance too. I once danced with my boyfriend waltz, well, not only us, but there were a few more couples dancing with us. That was amazing to be honest.

Just come to Armenia. All of its cities are wonderful in their own way. Enjoy the beauty and peace.

River Fest in Armenia !!!

Hot and sunny Armenia becomes epicenter of the coolest activities of summer .

I am so excited of all these events that can’t even choose which one to attend 🙂 But this weekend there is one, which I won’t miss for  sure  . This weekend within the village of Getamej  there will be a festival that quickens armenian cultural life, adds new notes to modern armenian music culture. This Fest is a nice initiative and I am happy that it’s becoming a good tradition. The name of the fest is also quite unique :River Fest !

River Fest Armenia promises  to be an unforgettable and indescribably interesting .

Here are some photos of last year fest, which already describe the mood of the event and motivate to be part of it.

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 Getamej is a town in the Kotayk Marz in Armenia, “Getamej” translates roughly to English a “Mid-River” . This small and modest town will be full of fantastic rhythms   and melodies this weekend.  Town itself is a nice place to visit, there is a river , beautiful armenian houses with very hospitable people, good nature , kind of peaceful and lovely place .

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Proceeds of the fest will go towards the renovation of the school in Gedamej!

As it’s mentioned in Ricer Fest’s page, This year there’ll be hearing performances from…

The Bambir
The Beautified Project
Empyray
Allusion Band
Funkavan
Perception Way
Degh
Hayard
Nairi
L.S.D.
Arta
Collectif Metz Bazar
Carahunge
Manuscript
Hassassian Project
The Band
Doctor At Large
Nemra
EVA
Palm of Granite
1243K
Narine Dovlatyan
Sonya Varujian
Voodoo
Stefanie
Room 118

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Many artists have prepared special performances for this year. Ethno-jazz , folk rock, pop rock, rock,  acoustic guitars for jamming, Woodstock’s , dancing….all these will accompany festival’s participants all weekend .

According to organizers, transportation to the venue will be provided (included in the ticket) with buses leaving from Matenadaran starting at 3:30PM, moving every half-hour- with the last bus leaving at 8:00PM. The tickets are  available at Ants, Irish Pub, Woodrock, it doesn’t cost much, just 5000 AMD.  And of course it’s possible to join them with tends 🙂

So, let’s fix in our calendars this weekend : August 15-17th, Getamej !

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You can follow more news of the event by Facebook and Twitter : #RiverFestArmenia14 is going to be something  different, enjoy it 😉

https://www.facebook.com/RiverFestArmenia/timeline

https://twitter.com/RiverFestArm

Vardavar International Youth Festival (Part 2)

So I’m back to finish up writing about the Vardavar International Youth festival and impressions of foreign guests. During the festival some of the guests were interviewed. We were mostly interested in their impressions on both, Armenia in general and the festival itself.

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So the first one was Daria from Belarus. This was her first visit to Armenia, so she first talked about her  impressions of Armenia.

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–          I’m absolutely enjoying my visit to Armenia, because people here are unbelievably kind and hospitable. Armenia in general is wonderful country with its’ miraculous mountains. Unfortunately we don’t have such landscapes in Belarus.

–          And what do you think about Vardavar?

–          You know, it’s very hot in Armenia and playing water fight is the best way to overcome this weather. But I mostly like the fact that you can pour water on strangers and they won’t scream at you. This is of course a bit weird, but absolutely awesome.

–          Do you have any similar festivals in Belarus?

–          No! We definitely don’t have such celebrations. If you try to pour water on a stranger, they will scream at you loudly! But in general there are some interesting festivals, which are celebrated among youth, but they are not as massive and as loved as Vardavar in Armenia. So this is my first experience taking part in such an amazing festival!

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At last we have found someone for whom this kind of festivals were not something new. Andrash who came from Hungary told us the following.

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–          Vardavar is an amazing celebration. It’s awesome to play with water when weather is this hot. About my impressions on Armenia, I’d have to say, that I’m very impressed by Armenian mountains and ancient historical and cultural structures. Armenians in general are very active and positive and now I feel like I’ll never ever forget these days in my life.

–          Which one impressed you most, Garni temple or Geghard monastery?

–          Garni impressed me more, because when you look at the landscape from here it is magical. And temple reminds me of old Greek architecture. When you imagine that this building is built more than thousand years ago, you get a strange and interesting feeling of the present and the past. I actually really like being in Armenia

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–          Do you celebrate something like this in Hungary?

–          We also have a celebration, during which we pour water on beautiful girls, so they will look fresh and will shine like a flower. It is actually Christian holiday with some folk traditions.

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So guys these were words of some of the participans. I’m pretty sure they will return to their countries with lots of positive energy and also with the full package of knowlege of Armenain folk songs and dances, because as they played with a great enthusiasm water fight, with the same enthusiasm they were learning and exploring our ancient culture and traditions.

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