Trying to play a little bit of catch up on the blogs...
The weekend of May 16th we rode the train to Gyumri (Armenia's second largest city) for a weekend to explore the city and get an opportunity to discover a part of the country without a bus full of 50 people in tow.
Gyumri, once heralded as an architectural and cultural center of Soviet Armenia, was devastated by an earthquake that struck on December 7th, 1988. The damage from the quake is pervasive throughout the city and fallen/crumbling buildings stand on most city blocks 25 years after the devastation (http://www.dw.de/spitak-earthquake-victims-still-waiting-for-help-25-years-on/a-17272621...article for more on the current state in Gyumri)
At the same time the uniqueness of Gyumri's culture and architecture is still apparent today in the countless beautiful details seen amongst the ruins and new construction of a handful of modern buildings. Porches, courtyards, gutters, doorways all attest to the pride people took in making the city stand out.
Our experience in Gyumri was only heightened by a delicious, unbelievably affordable dinner at a fish farm where our dinner went directly from pond to grill as well as witnessing lavash (traditional Armenian bread which is very much a staple here) made firsthand.