I was fascinated looking at the kids skiing in the indoor ski in one of the malls in Dubai. I wonder how would it be compared to skiing outdoor. Although I visited the indoor ski, but I did not try skiing or even enroll myself as a beginner. When we visited Armenia, me and my friend decided to give it a try to learn skiing in the region of Tsaghkadzor for a few days.
I know, the name is not familiar. We were also curious about the place knowing that it is one of the ski resort/spa in the country. Tsaghkadzor is a small town, which means “Valley of Flowers“. It is just more than an hour drive from the capital Yerevan.You can buy a visa on arrival and available mostly for all nationals. The 21 days visa cost 3,000 Armenian Dram (AMD) which is equivalent to 6$.We arrived past 1am. We arranged our pick up from the hotel. The driver was an old man, kind and trying to explain but he can’t speak English; just few words. The road was slippery and foggy but we reached safely in the hotel. We paid 23$/ one way to the driver.
There are hotels around, restaurants and cafes and with more than one thousand residents. The area is covered by free wifi. The hotel where we stayed- Tsaghkahovit Hotel, it’s room with free breakfast and just walking distance to the Tsaghkadzor Ropeway. For more information about the hotel, click here. I highly recommend this hotel.
The weather is unpredictable. There were days that it was snowing heavily and the next day was sunny. After days of resting and getting accustomed to the coldness, we decided to go in the ropeway. There are souvenir shops, skiing equipment rental shop and few cafes. There were few families and solo skiers that we met. The area is not fully covered of snow as it was already March. They told us that, they will close by the end of the month; it is dangerous when the snow is starting to melt. We asked the attendant in the rental shop that we would like to hire a ski trainer.
On the days of trying to learn skiing, we rented our boots, ski poles, helmet and 2days ski pass with total cost of 59$. We have our own Ski clothes. Only few choices of ski clothes on the shop, so I suggest that you bring your own. As soon as the shop assistant put the ski boots on my feet, I wanted to back out. I really can’t forget how I felt, I was not able to take a step and I felt like falling. It was so frustrating. We hired a trainer for an hour each and I took the first turn. Our trainer is Karen (feminine name) but in Armenia it is common name for a man. Karen took me to the short slope for beginners and there it was; my fears begun.
Skiing is not an easy sport, it is very challenging for people like us who did not grow up with a winter season, snowy mountains with the benefits of a ski resort or even having an indoor ski. The boots were heavy and I fell on my back many times. I was afraid that as what others skiers experienced – severely sprained ankle. Looking at the slope; I wanted to end the skiing lesson as soon as possible. It was scary.
We finished the day skiing with having a beer, wine and tea in the cafe. We were so tired and when we got back to the hotel we fell asleep and woke up in the middle of the night, starving and very thirsty. We decided to order some food and thank God there was still an open restaurant with free a delivery.
On the second day, we woke up with sore muscles and body aches but did not stop us trying to learn how to ski. Before we started the skiing lesson , we went on the second slope station and there it was, the view of Mt. Ararat which i will mention on my other post later.
It is better on the second slope due to its powdery snow. There is a cafe and other skiers dining in, having a break. The busiest time in the resort will be from December to February although if still snowing they are still open up to April. There was a time that they experienced heavy snow fall even on March or April.
The second day was better because we can balance ourselves even a little and sliding down was not that scary as the first time. The only problem that time was that it was sunny and they informed us that they will close the resort for safety reasons; grasses were showing with watery, muddy slopes.
We ended the day, feeling okay with our skiing but sad that, it was the last day. Wish that we have gone sooner there. At night we had a dinner in a cabin style restaurant opposite the hotel. The Burmunq Restaurant. They serve grilled rabbit or rabbit stew. Prices will vary on what type of meat you want and how it will be cooked. Also if serve with bread, cheese and wine. Price ranges from 30-60$ for 2 persons.
During the day if you don’t want to walk around, you can rent an ATV -quadbike with a driver to go around the town for few minutes, normally an 30-45 minutes for 8-10$. There is also a museum but it was closed when we visited, and a casino in Marriot Hotel.
Another landmark not to miss is the monastery-the Kecharis Monastery
Kecharis Monastery is an Armenian medieval complex situated on the north-western part of Tsaghkadzor. Built on the 11th century and was renovated in 19th century. It looks like only two churches but there are actually four churches : Saint Grigor Lusavorich Church, and Saint Astvatsatsin Church which is connected to each other and standing separately are the two small chapel-like Saint Nshan Church, and the Saint Harutyun church. There are tombstone on the complex and one of them is for the architect of the main church-Saint Grigor.
Saint Nshan Church and Saint Harutyun Church which was built on the 11th-12th century and have many graves, thus people considered the place to be a family burial without certain records.
Next to the main gate of the complex is a souvenir shop where you can buy religious artifacts and some Armenian souvenirs. Overall, Tsaghkadzor is a great escape for weekend away from the hustle and bustle of main capital Yerevan. I guess its best to visit during winter. Skiing is a sport that requires patience and needs more practice and time.
Nest stop: main capital Yerevan