• Tatiana Kochetkova
Artist and designer, founder of the "Summer Camp. Yoga and Art Trips" travel project. I conduct master classes and practice yoga. In the past, I worked as a manager at a yoga studios chain.
Why I Fell in Love with Armenia

Hiking to Lake Kari, Armenia / Photo: Liliya Kartseva

Why I Fell in Love with Armenia

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Even long before our yoga art-trip to Armenia this summer, my friends often asked me, “Why Armenia? Why do you want to travel there?” You don’t get to hear about the country that often… which, to my opinion, is totally unfair! I was captivated by the country for quite some time already, and after returning back to Moscow from our journey I fell in love with Armenia deeply. And here is why!

PEOPLE

Horseback riding in Armenia

Horseback riding at Apaga Resort / Photo: Liliya Kartseva

I believe that the real atmosphere of the country one travels to can be experienced through local people only! And nowhere in the world have I ever experienced such hospitable, kind and openhearted people as in Armenia. Perhaps my impressions stand in contrast to my experiences in Moscow, I don’t know.But it’s a fact: in Armenia, you will be overwhelmed with attention and desire of the locals to help you! And of course, you’ll be frequently invited over to their homes to be their guest. From the very moment we landed in Yerevan and left the airplane, all confused, trying to decide how and where to go, we were assisted by people who happily helped and guided us through our first minutes in Yerevan.

NATURE AND CLIMATE

Hiking to Mount Aragats in Armenia

Armenia's landscapes are breathtaking / Photo: Liliya Kartseva

Have you ever seen the paintings of Martiros Saryan? Have you seen the colors in his paintings of nature? It’s all real! It’s all here! I couldn’t help but think about it during our long-distance journeys around Armenia, as if Saryan’s paintings were coming to life around us. Armenia’s nature is very diverse – with fogs and dense forests around Dilijan, the little Switzerland; with endless mountain ranges around Lake Sevan – dry and burned out in hot winds… And the 40-degrees heat in Yerevan, pleasantly warming you up after the humidity of Moscow.

HISTORY, RICH ARTISTIC AND SPIRITUAL HERITAGE

Sevanvank monastery, Armenia

Sevanavank monastery / Photo: Liliya Kartseva

Armenia was one of the first countries to adopt Christianity as a state religion. This happened in the 4th century. Seeking spiritual experiences, I travel to places of powerful energy to get inspirations, to nourish my soul. The journey is not just a vacation for me.In Armenia, we traveled to places of powerful energy and visited Christian shrines. Not everyone knows that the real Lance of Longinus (the Spear of Destiny, the Holy Lance) is conserved in the museum of the Etchmiadzin Cathedral, not far from Yerevan, and its authenticity was recognized officially.

FOOD AND WATER

Visiting the town of Dilijan / Photo: Liliya Kartseva

Fresh dairy products, fruits, herbs – I guess you already know what am I talking about. And the water… you can drink tap water in many cities of Armenia, and it’s very delicious. As for the water in Dilijan, I believe it’s one of the bests in the world. As they say, it’s the second-best water in the world.

MEDITATIVE ATMOSPHERE FOR YOGA RETREATS

Hiking to Mount Aragats in Armenia

Climbing the southern peak of Mount Aragats / Photo: Liliya Kartseva

Armenia is a heaven for meditation and yoga retreats. Our stereotype that it would be impossible to practice yoga in this country of barbecue and cognac was completely destroyed. Armenia offers numerous breathtaking remote location perfect for contemplation and yoga practice. Moreover, yoga is becoming more and more popular among Armenians. What I really liked is that there aren’t many tourists around these places. At Lake Sevan, we were staying in a hotel located in a mountainous village. There were no settlements around for several kilometers. It was only us, the locals and the nature. Silence, serenity and many comfortable areas for practicing yoga - that's another reason why I fell in love with Armenia.

INSPIRATIONS FOR CREATIVITY

Travel and hiking in Armenia

Armenia boosts artist's creativity / Photo: Liliya Kartseva

When I first saw the Armenian landscapes, I immediately realized that Saryan was right – the shades, the majestic nature, the boundless valleys and the mountainous landscapes were incredibly inspiring to create! I couldn’t put my paints and canvas aside. I discovered great Armenian painters – Vardges Sureniants, landscape painter Gevorg Bashinjaghian and many others. Armenia’s nature and the spirit of its centuries-old culture were inspiring to paint and create more and more. All participants of our yoga-art trip created picturesque paintings, and looking at their works you wouldn’t even guess that for many of them it was their first painting experience. I will definitely travel to Armenia again and again to explore the country and engage myself in outdoor painting.

Tatiana Kochetkova

Summer Camp: Yoga and Art Travels

Co-authored by Liliya Kartseva

Liliya Yoga Center