Armenia – day 1 of a one week stay – arrival at Yerevan airport in the morning, find hostel accommodation, walk around Yerevan city – Yerevan Metro, St Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral, Republic Square, Armenia History Museum, Northern Ave pedestrian boulevard, Yeravan Opera House and nearby cafe bar area, Swan Lake.
Why visit Armenia?
- There is a lot of history in Armenia. Many of the Ladas and marshrutkas I saw today looked very historical.
- It starts with the letter A.
- What, you want more reasons?
Day 1 in Armenia
- The Yerevan Airport is called Zvartnots (rhymes with snots) International Airport. It has a new terminal building. Very smart, quite small, friendly, efficient, and fast … and it had the most attractive collection of passport control officers I’ve seen anywhere – but they wouldn’t let me go back and get a passport stamp from each one of them. Bummer. A visa problem required 3 immigration offices to point at a computer, make phone calls, and mutter seriously at each other. In Armenian so I don’t know what it was, and they let me in without telling me.
- Taxi drivers attempt to rip you off but I thought they did so quite politely relative to airport taxi drivers in other countries (and not by huge amounts either). My driver for today used a meter so the attempted extortion failed anyway. But he found a way to make me suffer. I asked him to switch on the a/c (it was 30-something Celcius outside). He said he no speako da English. I asked him my in best approximation of Russian. He made a phone call (I wondered if there were secret airconditioning police in Armenia) and ignored me. I asked if the a/c wasn’t working (in Russian). He said “minoga doroga” which I think is Russian for “shut up you fussy bugger, and open your window.” So to show my gratitude, I paid by Visa card, which he found somewhat difficult (there were more phone calls to the secret credit card police before his machine worked properly).
- And on the airconditioning theme, it looks like airconditioning is a translation of Armenian for “the windows can be opened”. The hostels I looked at had said they have a/c, but it turns out they don’t have machines for making air colder, just windows that can be opened.
- Actually, by and large Yerevan is a pleasant, friendly city. Easy to walk around, although hot in summer during the day. Weather is generally fine during the summer, occasional thunderstorms.
- Traffic is supposed to be crazy, but it didn’t look too bad to me. So of course now I’m concerned about what my own definition of crazy driving is.
- Yerevan Metro is relatively straightforward. There’s only one line. Buy a token for AMD 100 or something for journey of any length. Figure out where you are and where you’re going, count the number of stops since station labeling and announcements are only in Armenian. Some station signs are in English too, but not when you want them to be. Ask a guard on the platform which side to stand on by saying your desired station.