ARMENIA :WHY YOU MUST TRAVEL NOW ?

Majestic view of  Caucasus mountains, green landscapes, ancient monasteries and delectable cuisine. Armenia has lot to offer to its visitors. And not to miss that friendliest people of Armenia will make your trip unforgettable.

Armenia, a landlocked nation with 6000 years of turbulent history, recently has started unfolding its stories to the world. If you have Armenia in your travel bucket list, wonderful! visit here before it gets over crowded with tourists.

‘The Economist’ named Armenia, country of the year because of its political and economic stability in 2019. “Forbes”, 2020 highlighted that Armenia is the most underrated destination. Well connected with Europe and Asia, this could be you next travel destination. There are hundreds of  reasons to travel Armenia , and just a few of them I have listed below :

1. Spellbinding History

Visiting Armenia is like a time travel. Trip to monasteries is stirring experience to traveling back to ancient period. Present Armenia is only a part of ancient Armenia. It is one of the oldest civilizations of the world with recorded history of 3500 years. 1st century BC was the golden age for Great Armenia. It was the time was Tigran the great, the grandson of Artashes I, was the King of Armenia. The Armenian empire extended from Caspian sea to Mediterranean sea during his time.

Armenia is the first country took Christianity as a state religion in 301 AD. During this period thousands of churches and monasteries built in Armenia. ; Khor virap, Tatev, Notavank and Haghartsin are few of them.

World’s history in incomplete without Armenian Heritage

Famous silk route which connects east with west is through Armenia. It was the main trading and military route for major powers in the history. 13th Century Orbelion Caravan Serai on Silk Route has not changed with time. A major part of 7000 km Silk route passes through Armenia. You will see many old bridges while driving here.

The famous Silk Route

The oldest structure Carahunge is around 7500 years old. It is the oldest Observatory on our Planet. Go there for camping and stargazing. Perfect day would be no moon night.Due aggressive foreign invasions, it finally lost its autonomy in 14th century. The western Armenia got occupied by Turkey, and the eastern part by Iran. It was the gloomiest period for Armenia and which lasted for centuries.

Armenian Genocide is one of the most heartbreaking tragedy in the History of world. 1.5 million Armenians killed or massacred by Ottoman Empire in early 19th century . It seems that aggressors wanted to erase the name of Armenia from the map of the world. today, most of the countries in the world do not recognize it, and Turkey has always denied it till today.

Genocide Memorial in Yerevan

In early 19th Century Armenia came under Russian Union for around 70 years. It got independence on 23 September, 1991.Armenia is a story of great civilization and now it is getting back in power again. Situated between Georgia and Iran, trapped between it’s enemies Turkey and Azerbaijan. Armenian are proud of their nation, and why not? A country which ruled from Black sea to Mediterranean Sea, started art of making wine ans was the first nation to adopt Christianity has a lot to offer to the world.

2. Landscape and Outdoors

Armenia is a land with diverse landscape. Average altitude of Armenia is 5900 feet with no lowland. Lofty mountains, deep rivers, volcanic plateaus and lush highlands are blessings for nature lovers.

Surreal Ararat from my window

One of the most striking is feature of Armenia is view of Mount Ararat from Yerevan City. Snowclad Ararat is a surreal dream from every angle. Though it is very far, but in a clear bright day , it looks as if it is at walk-able distance from Yerevan. It’s a biblical mountain, where Noah built his arc.

Blue eye of Armenia, the Lake Sevan is like a picture postcard in Gegharkunik region. Thousands of birds flocking, surrounded by snow clad peaks and fed by 28 rivers and streams. Vastness of this lake will give illusion of Sea. This place is a heaven on Earth, and a hub for various water activities.

An evening next to Lake Sevan

Khndzoresk in Syunik province will take you to a different world. A cave village, where hundreds of caves peeping out on the slope of mountains. A days hike will be ideal way to see this area.

For adventure seekers

For adventure lovers, Armenia is full of exciting stuff. Paragliding over Lake Sevan, hot air ballooning, watching sunset/sunrise, horse riding in wilderness, rock climbing, mountain cycling and hiking are few of them.

Full day Hike to Remote Village

Mount Aragats’s four summits are very popular among local hikers and tourists. The trail starts from Lake Kari and Aragat Village, you can climb all the peaks in one day if you are a regular hiker. The volcanic crater at the top of the peak is a striking feature.

Another impressive hiking trail is mountain ridge hike near Lake Sevan, it leads to an extinct mountain Azhdahak . If you are here in spring season , the small tiny colourful flowers will be all over. And do notice grey colour stone stelae while climbing up, also called dragon stone

3. Food , wine and brandy

Armenian food is traditional and cooked in similar way last thousand years. Food is Fresh from garden, homemade and very cheap compare to any European country. Armenian food is an invitation…. long menus and variety of dishes are overwhelming in the restaurants. And all look delectable. There is a vast interesting spread for vegetarians too. Flavour of Armenian food come from the natural ingredients, not from added spices.

Ararat Brandy : Not to Miss

There are number of traditional Armenian restaurants in Yerevan. These restaurants serve authentic Armenian food and local artists perform live here.

Few local delicacies, which I enjoyed the most in Yerevan :

Dolma : Mixed meat, rice, zucchini, herbs and spices and wrapped in vine leaves in winter season and in summers, cabbage leaves used to wrap . For vegetarians ,it is served without meat. It is served at room temperature and generally eaten with mazdoon(thick Armenian curd). Khorovadz : This barbequed pork, lamb and meat. Mushroom and vegetable barbeque is also available for vegetarians . We had delicious homemade chicken Khorovadz cooked in open traditional furnace with a local family. It was served with fresh home made lavash and onion, tomatoes and herbs.


Khorovadz : Barbequed Pork, Lamb And Meat. Mushroom And Vegetable Barbeque being cooked

Ghapma : Ghapma is a mouth watering dish, it is butternut pumpkin is scooped out and filled with rice, apricots, prunes, plums and baked until becomes soft. It’s natural sweet taste and rich aroma comes from fruits.

Lahmahcun : Armenian pizza “Lahmahcun” is fast food here. A quick grub. It is made up of thin crust and topped with tomatoes, onion ,garlic, sautéed minced beef and served with fresh lime and mint leaves. It is spicy and goes very well with chilled beer.

Harissa : It also called “Courage Dish”. It is made up of broken wheat(bulgar) meat or chicken and butter. Must try when very hungry, it is delicious, nutritious and filling.

Gata, Baklava, Borag, Manti few more local dishes not to be missed. I being salad person, relished variety of salad : Eech, Tabbouleh salad, Garden salad are few of them.

Traditional Lavash and Baklava

Lavash is a traditional bread, you will find with every meal. While traveling across villages, you will find Lavash was being cooked in a tonir(traditional oven in the ground)in local shops. In one place when we went to see the tonir, the lady making Lavash greeted us with smile and gave us big pieces for tasting.

Areni Winery

Making wine at home is a part of Armenian culture.They take pride in their wine making skill. A country, which is making wine last 6000 years, will definitely have collection of exotic wines. Ararat Brandy has got history to tell, plan a day trip for wine tasting at Ararat Brandy Factory in Yerevan. Areni Wine factory and Areni Caves , slightly away from Yerevan,are got to go place for wine connoisseurs.

Areni Wine Factory Restaurant :Perfect Place for Wine Break

4. Friendly and welcoming

Armenians are immensely proud of their nation. They welcome all with a smile and want others to visit and appreciate their country.Almost all the places where we went, we were greeted with a smile and open heart. One of the such incident is Noravank Monastery, where the main priest himself offered prayers for us when we told him that we are from India.

At Echimiadzin Monastery, trees were loaded with apricot. children playing in the garden offered us apricots enthusiastically. when they realized that we want to taste it. One of the kid climbed the tree to pluck the ripe one for us.There are many examples of their niceness and hospitality towards outsiders. Incredible hospitality, delectable homemade food and friendly warmth. An evening dinner in a quiet remote village, far off from Goris will always remain special for us.

Warmth, Happiness and Sunshine

5. Armenia is resoanble

Armenian currency is called “ Armenian Dram”.

$ 1 USD = Armenian Dram

It is easy to find hostels, Airbnb, good hotels at reasonable price in Armenia. Generally, a room in a youth hostel will cost $10-12 USD/per night in a dorm. Mid luxury hotel room will cost $50-100 USD and super luxury will cost around $170-300 USD. I stayed in Airbnb in the heart of the city, which was very reasonable and had all the amenities. The window view of Mount Ararat was icing on the cake. The fridge was stocked with breakfast items, milk and a bottle of wine and all was complimentary. In fact, I forgot my hair straightener in Airbnb in Yerevan, and got it collected after six months.

In high end restaurants, lavish spread will cost around $10-12 USD. Fast food meal like shawarma or local meal lahmajoun will cost around 2 dollars. Regular good food in normal restaurant will cost 5/6 dollars.

For coffee connoisseur, cup of good coffee will cost $1 to $2.50 USD. Domestic beer Kilikiya, Ararat or Kotayk will cost only $1 USD in grocery shop and $3 in restaurant. You can drink water from local taps, water quality is good here. Tips are 5% for avearge service and 10/20% for good service.

Travelling in buses and marshrutaka is extremely reasonable. Metro system is also very cheap in Yerevan.. Taxis are reasonable. Use local app Yendix, you will not face bargaining problem. Yendix is like Uber in Armenia and Russia. Hitchhiking is common here. The cost of traveling in Armenia is cheaper than any other European country

7. Armenia is Safe

Armenia is very safe. Just like any other European country, necessary safety and precaution should be taken. People are good natured and peaceful. Crime rate is very low on street crime, pickpockets and theft. Travel in public transport is a good and happy experience.

Goris : a small town

Armenia has special police unit called “ Guardian Angels”. They look after the people , in case of nay emergency you can approach them. Every one of them carry medical kit for small medical issue.

Tap water is safe and good for health. You don’t need to buy water bottles here. The food hygiene and quality standards are very high.

Super Safe Drinking water

Be careful when you are taking taxi. Negotiate and fix the price before boarding taxi otherwise they may cheat. They ask excess amount at the end of the trip. At Airport, take airport taxi, which is reasonable and safe.

Road driving is safe here, people follow rules of the road. Drivers give way to the pedestrian. Though certain remote parts roads are not good but drivers drive safely.

Armenia is a country, which is getting ready for influx of mass tourism. A place where Asia meets Europe seamlessly, and the country has best of both.

Don’t wait….Go now……

With all right ingredients, Armenia is emerging as a tourist destination. A country after centuries is coming back into limelight, which it deserves. There are thousands of reasons to travel Armenia….go see experience yourself. It is a promising land and you will love it.

russia-new

russian kremlin

RUSSIAN KREMLIN

A complete feast for your eyes and soul this magnificent fortress was founded by Rurikids dynasty. It is the symbol of Russian State. The Kremlins include five palaces, four cathedrals and the enclosing Kremlin wall with Kremlin towers. Today it is the official residence of the President of Russia.

METRO STATION

volving with the time this transit system is just incomparable to any railway system of the world. The opulent architecture of the stations were designed with elaborate decorations and spectacular dimensions. Every station depicts it’s own story in it’s own style . The Leningradsky Station is the oldest among the nine railway stations .

NIGHT WALKS

The night walks along with sparkling street lamps and the glittery sky often fascinates me about the rich heritage and history of this beautiful country. It gives you more than what you see. No wonder these night walks takes you back to the rich era of glorious history.

KOTLIN ISLAND

The Naval Cathedral of Saint Nicholas is dedicated to fallen Seamen. It is the most interesting landmark of this Island. The architecture is massive with the shining domes visible from miles away. This Naval Base was closed in 1929 and was converted to cinema, a house of officers and a museum of The Navy.

GOLDEN CUPOLAS, TEREM PALACE

Signifying the celestial glory as the golden cupolas speak of Russian Tsars. These stunning onion shaped domes of 17 th century shines magnificently in the clear blue sky with the hint of sunshine on their top.

VYBORG CASTLE

Built as the easternmost outpost of the medieval Kingdom of Sweden this picturesque town is located in the innermost corner of Gulf of Finland. It has its own savage history. This castle occupies the whole islet and now functions as a local history museum, telling us it’s history dated from 13th century.

CHURCH OF THE SAVIOR ON THE SPILLED BLOOD

The church of Resurrection also known as ‘Savior on Spilled Blood’ was built in the memory of Alexander ll. It took 24 years to construct this majestic edifice. This magnificent landmark of St. Petersburg with a brutal history depicting the royal life of the Russian Tsars makes it an iconic and a unique monument.

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Hey! I am Sumita

I am obsessed with travel, adventure and hiking. I want to take risk, meet people and explore the world. From remote mysterious lake in Himalayas to the lively Champs Elysees, France .... I have been fortunate to see the both sides of the world ....this blog is about my travel experience and....

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    ARMENIA :WHY YOU MUST TRAVEL NOW ?

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    A One Day Trip To Kazbegi, Georgia

    A One Day Trip To Kazbegi, Georgia

    A One Day Trip To Kazbegi, Georgia

    APRIL 14, 2021

    BY JODI ETTENBERG

    Shape 12

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    Top 3 Things to See and Do in Europe

    KAZBEGI

    The trip would feed us with the thrill, and adventure we were looking for.

    COFFEE

    The trip would feed us with the thrill, and adventure we were looking for.

    KAZBEGI

    The trip would feed us with the thrill, and adventure we were looking for.

    1 | HOW TO REACH KAZBEGI ?

    This pleasure-to-eyes and a little bit forested municipality in Stepantsminda has a moderate difficulty to reach. You can be anywhere in Georgia, for that matter. Be it, Rustavi, Batumi, Kutaisi, or Singhnaghi, you will be having a cross over the station or stop at Tbilisi, the country capital.

    I was lucky too in that matter because I had been staying in Tbilisi only for my travel trip.

    To begin with, reach Tbilisi Didube bus station at your leisure. Make Tbilisi the only stop before reaching Kazbegi. It will be easier for the road trip ahead. It merely takes 2-3 hours maximum for you to reach the destination.

    However, to plan an entire day out there in Kazbegi, you must reach there early afternoon. For that, you need to leave Tbilisi early in the morning. The time could be like… 6-8 AM.

    The commute available from Tbilisi is as follows:

    Marshrutka: These are the shared minibuses you will get at the Didube Bus Station quickly. There’s even a dedicated booth station for purchasing the tickets to travel through these mini buses. The tickets for your trip to Kazbegi are available under the booth with a yellow sign that says, “Stefancminda-Kazbegy.” 

    You can get Marshrutka buses almost every hour at 10 GEL, which rounds about 4-5 USD. You can ask the drivers about the road trip and the stops made in between. When I was travelling to Kazbegi, they stopped once in between for snacks and toilet or washroom visits. 

    Marshrutka, at a time, can carry 10-20 passengers. Often, drivers tend to bend their limits and offer seats to more than 20. So, choose this commute according to your comfort. 

    Taxi: Choose a minivan when you are in no hurry to reach Kazbegi. A minivan has a sitting capacity of 6-8 people at once. It’s less crowded or suffocated. The minivan can stop in the middle for multiple stops as per your and other traveller’s leisure. The overall cost of some travellers we know paid for their trip to Kazbegi was 20 GEL per person. That’s about 7 USD, which is a pretty economical rate for a 2-3 hours’ drive. Some drivers of the minivan have their dedicated stops in the middle of the journey for sightseeing. 

    The popular stops are Russia-Georgia Friendship Monument and Ananuri Fortress, with 20 minutes allotted to each destination for exploring the beauty, clicking pictures, shooting videos, and whatnot.

    Where Should You Stay Upon Reaching Kazbegi, Stepantsminda? 

    For a short one-day trip, you can enjoy camping around Camp Kuro, as I did. The vibe was pretty natural, and the environment is soothing for summers. However, if you are visiting the place in winters, you can always go to private cabins.

     Such cabins around the Stepantsminda city centre overlook Mount Kazbek or Gergeti Trinity Church. Therefore, the views are always breath-taking. You can click amazing pictures and create unforgettable memories in the late evening or night with your partner or friends.

    2 |

    Where Should You Stay Upon Reaching Kazbegi, Stepantsminda?

    2 |  Where Should You Stay Upon Reaching Kazbegi, Stepantsminda?

    For a short one-day trip, you can enjoy camping around Camp Kuro, as I did. The vibe was pretty natural, and the environment is soothing for summers. However, if you are visiting the place in winters, you can always go to private cabins.

    Such cabins around the Stepantsminda city centre overlook Mount Kazbek or Gergeti Trinity Church. Therefore, the views are always breath-taking. You can click amazing pictures and create unforgettable memories in the late evening or night with your partner or friends.

    However, to stay close to the amenities, explore already given plenty of options. From cafés, homestays, guest houses, or smaller inns, you can find anything of those locations to stay in, at the Stepantsminda city centre. 

    Guesthouses like Kazbegi Guest House, Veranda Guest House, or Red Stone are quite famous amongst the travellers. You can read their reviews online for making a better decision as far as the accommodation goes by.

    3 |

    What’s There To Eat In Kazbegi That You Would Never Forget?

    3 | What’s There To Eat In Kazbegi That You Would Never Forget?

    On the bank of the Terek River, there’s an endless stream of café and local Dhabhas. When I was travelling with my relatives, I had delicious Indian and Pakistani cuisine at the local and remotely located Pakistani Dhabha. 

    Many restaurants there offer Georgian food with the local Georgian music that plays in the background. 

    Though, I recommend that you sit at the corner or around the window seat, with such an ambiance combined with the local food items like Qondriani, Mtsvadi, and Khinkali. The total experience of such an amazing lunch date with your friends is unexplainable in mere words. 

    Otherwise, the restaurants there are offering North Indian food with good quality and quantity. You won’t have any trouble to find Naan, Roti, Mix Veg, Paneer, and more, wanting to hog onto such authentic food items bringing you closer to home. 

    To break the norm, try eating breakfast or lunch at the hotel or resort you stay. They can offer you a complete buffer under 15 USD, which is quite the medium price. However, the experience will leave you to lick your finger for the good taste that doesn’t want to go away anytime soon. 

    Consider items like thick cream cheese, baked pastries, crusty baguettes, and crispy bacon to be the best ones to have for an authentic Georgian breakfast at Kazbegi, Stepantsminda.

    4 |

    The Amazing Experience Of Gergeti Trinity Church And Its History

    4 | The Amazing Experience Of Gergeti Trinity  Church And Its History

    Kazbegi, even after being a tiny and remotely located municipality, is one of the famous towns to discover when you go to Stepantsminda. That’s because of the golden history of the 14th century built, Gergeti Trinity Church. 

    his church is at the top peak of the Caucasus mountain. However, the locals around the country pay a lot of respect for this church. This respect and history are widely known around the world, especially amongst keen travellers.

    The author, Vakhushti Batonishvili, in the 18th century, wrote in one of the books that people used to bring precious relics from different churches of the country here for the utter safekeeping. As this church is not easily trodden or reached, it made the task to keep the important historical relics in this church a better choice, if not mandatory. 

    The entire architecture of this church is nothing extraordinary. But the experience of coming closer to the historically important place for Georgians is what draws you closer to the 220m high church on the mountain, overlooking Stepantsminda with pride. 

    When you reach the hilltop, the view is flabbergasting. You won’t want to go down any sooner if the weather is in a better condition on that altitude. The panoramic views simply tie and staple you to that location. 

    You can reach this mountain peak and visit the gregariously beautiful Gergeti Trinity Church through: 

    Taxi: the drivers take up to 28-30 USD for a one-way trip that is about 20-30 minutes to reach the mountain. These drivers wait for the traveller up on the hill for 30 minutes and then leave without informing. However, if you can bargain, you can bring the price down to 20 USD for a one-way trip. 

    Hike: Are you in a mood to join some thrilling experience while you stay at Kazbegi? Then, don’t worry. This is your sole chance. Make it last and involve your travel buddies if they want to be on a trek to the mountain top and pay their due respect at the church. 

    The hike, in total, takes about 2-3 hours, depending upon your speed and halts in between. Though, this trekking trail has only entry-level difficulty. 

    We trekked our way down after visiting the church in the afternoon. So, it took my relatives and me about 2 hours to walk down the visible trail. 

    To find the Gergeti Trinity Church trail, visit the Café Gergeti, near the Red Stone guest house. There you will find the perfect location that goes onto the hilltop for your trek trail ahead. 

    Keep water bottles, wear comfy shoes, and check the weather before deciding to go for trekking unnecessarily. Also, do not take any kids along with you. Checking up on the kids can make the trek hard as they are jumpy and very curious whenever they find a new location. 

    When you visit the church, make sure that you wear the mask over your head and the aprons around your waist. You will get those items from the church itself. 

    However, if you are already wearing a mid or long skirt, there’s no need to wear the apron over it. Make sure that you are wearing decent clothes—not too revealing—as this is a holy place for the Georgians that they respect, adding the given history.

    5 |

    WHAT ARE THE OTHER THINGS TO SEE OR DO HERE AT KAZBEGI?

    5 |  What Are the Other Things To See Or  Do Here At Kazbegi?

    Kazbegi is the municipality that will give you experiences; even the most uptown cities fail to do so. Here, you find peace, serenity, memories, and a chance to rediscover yourself and the untold and undiscovered history of the Georgian roots to the level it is today. 

    Zhinvali Water Reservoir: It is a dam from 1986. It corresponds to the beautiful lake. When you visit it, know that there’s another sort of charm to that scenery before you. 

    Ananuri Castle: This is another historical castle or monument that you can find on your way from Tbilisi to Kazbegi. It belongs to the 18th-century era. It’s definitely and surely one of the most beautiful churches you can find and stop by in Georgia to make your trip a one-day Kazbegi trip worthwhile.

    The Soviet-Georgian Friendship Memorial: Are you interested to know about the snippets of Georgian history? Do you want to know what episodes happened here in the north-eastern Georgian region? Then do not forget to visit this memorial. It was built in 1980 and is semicircular in shape. 

    It is covered in visuals and murals that depict the different scenic stories of residents, politics, traditions, or mythologies. 

    Darial Gorge: You will see this mountain pass between the Caucasus Mountain’s two crossings. The other pass is famously known as Derbent Pass. 

    Visit this location to check out the fortified structure that was built in 150 BC! Yes, you read it right, my friend, it’s that old and still has its beauty up to the mark, even in the remaining ruins. 

    Kayaking at Terek River: Talk to the water sports’ guides, available at the guest houses or the cafés near the Terek River. They will guide you about the charges, risks, and precautions to take while Kayaking. The entire Kayaking round at the Terek River isn’t that long. It will only be an hour at max. 

    Paragliding: I enjoyadrenaline. But my trip was cut short because we had to leave early the next day. So, I spent most of the day visiting the historical places, waterfalls, trekking down the mountain, and then camping later on. However, if you get time to extend your trip, you must try paragliding in Kazbegi. 

    The paragliding through the subtle and serene mountain ranges of the Caucasus Mountains will give you the panoramic view of the entire Kazbegi municipality. You can watch the brick houses, winding roads, small peaks, waterfalls, and everything else while flying high above the ground.

    6 |

    History of Kazbegi

    6 | History of Kazbegi

    Mount Kazbegi is pretty famous because of the Amirani folklore, the ancient Georgian mix of Prometheus. He was chained to this mountain as a punishment for stealing the fire from the Gods and giving the same to the mortals, or humans. 

    location where he was imprisoned on Mount Kazbegi later became the Orthodox Hermitage site for scholars in the Betlemi cave. There are stories that regale the fact that this cave was then the house of important historical relics, which also included Abraham’s tent. 

    This Abraham, which I am mentioning here, is none other than baby Jesus’s manger. After 1868, its first climb in today’s humankind, this peak has been climbed several times. 

    A female Russian alpinist, Maria Preobrazhenskaya, already climbed this mount nine times in a row in 1900. Yeah, we can call it an obsession from her part. Still, it is a fascinating historical factor that draws every reader’s interest to discover the scenic nitty-gritty of this peak and municipality whenever one is around Tbilisi.

    My Take:

    Mount Kazbegi is something that you do not want to miss. 

    Get down to here by the minibuses I talked about earlier and stop in the middle to check out the beauty in the ruins, monuments, churches, waterfalls, and the overall winding roads. 

    I bet you won’t find such a breath taking view, historical trail, and yet the humble nature of the locals anywhere else while visiting anywhere near Kazbegi, Stepantsminda.

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      Sumita Balooni

      Hi there!

      Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry.