Travel to Armenia – Episode 169

categories: europe travel

The Amateur Traveler talks to David Dougherty about his recent trip to the small country of Armenia. David talks about view of Mount Ararat (just over the border in Turkey), monasteries and churches, riding the packed minivan buses (marshrutkas), meeting locals with a shared interest, the food, the legends and some of the history (the Armenian genocide).


armenia-episode169


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News

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Show Notes

Money:

$1.00=about 300 AMD (Armenian Drams). Money is easily converted in some supermarkets and travel agencies (in either direction). Mostly a cash-only economy except at larger and expensive shops and restauraunts in Yerevan. David says “I had no trouble carrying cash around. I concealed it and there is no street crime to speak of.”

Health:

Malaria medicine (chloroquine) sometimes recommended late spring-fall when visiting the Ararat valley area (including Khor Virap). From what David heard locally, it’s probably only necessary if visiting the Armash fish ponds, or if staying overnight in the summer. Casual visitors really don’t need it.

Be careful drinking local tap water, otherwise no special concerns.

Tipping:

Usually 10%. Some restaurants add the service to the bill, although they won’t always tell you. If you see a % at the bottom of the first page of the menu, that’s what that usually means.

Tax and Red Tape:

10,000 AMD departure tax at the airport that you don’t know about until you are standing in checkout and customs lines (and you have to pay this before, of course! Pay at the money exchange desk and they will give you a receipt. E-visas available if you fly into Zvartnots airport only.

You can apply for an Electronic visa at the Armenia foreign ministry and follow link for E-visa.

Accomodation:

“In Yerevan I stayed at the Envoy Hostel, which was great, in the center and reasonable. A bread and marmalade breakfast included. Guests may use communal kitchen. They can arrange a van from the airport (I recommend this).

Large hotels are available in Yerevan and maybe some larger towns (but are very expensive). Homestays are available, and can be requested with dinner (highly recommended to do). Home cooking in Armenia tends to be much better than a restaurant.”

Transport:

Taxis sometimes rip you off and don’t run the meter, but fares are still reasonable as a rule.

Marshrutka (minivan)- 100 AMD within Yerevan, intercity depends on destination. Pay as you get off. You may tell the driver where to drop you, or tell them to stop if you know your way.

Tours:

David recommends Sati Travel for guided tours. You can join tours on the spot if you wish. They run certain tours on certain days, just take your pick. They do Armenian, Russian, and English language by default without any further notice. Other languages cost more and need prior arrangement.

Museums in Yerevan:

  • Tsitsernakaberd (the Genocide Memorial)
  • The Sergei Paradjanov House Museum (an eccentric artist and film director). The exhibits are rather bizarre, but interesting
  • State Museum of Armenian History (on Republic Square)
  • National Art Gallery (on Republic Square).
  • Cascade – outdoor sculptures on a hill with a view of Mt. Ararat
  • Erebuni – museum with artifacts and outdoor exhibit of excavations from the very first settlement in what is now Yerevan

Many museums in Yerevan are open on Sunday.

Other Tips:

Allow more time to get around than you expect, because things are often not signposted. They are not used to tourists, but they certainly deserve more. If you get lost or have trouble finding something, the people will usually steer you right. This happened to David at the Genocide Memorial. “I also met someone who showed me around the memorial and pointed out to me a new memorial stone there – I understood better (in spite of not understanding the language) because I had done some background reading and followed current events.”

Language:

“Armenian, and in Yerevan, Russian will also do you well. I found a 10-lesson cd course by Pimsleur for Armenian, which is good for the basics. Use East Armenian for Armenia. West Armenian is spoken by diaspora Armenians who lived in Lebanon, Turkey, etc. East Armenian is what they speak in the Republic of Armenia now.”

For current events and news in English check out Groong – The Armenian News Network.

To get in the mood for your trip, listen to a online radio station with Armenian pop music (requires Flash).

David Dougherty’s Photos – Armenia Trip
Armenian Genocide
Gregory the Illuminator
Armenian Apostolic Church
ipernity.com
Esperanto

Community

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Etienne’s tech support
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by Chris Christensen

I am the host of the Amateur Traveler. The Amateur Traveler is an online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations and what are the best places to travel to. It includes both a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog.

6 Responses to “Travel to Armenia – Episode 169”

Flug

Says:

Amazing!!! This is very useful description to know a little bit about this wonderful place…simply excellent!!! congrats!!
But I find a little complicated if one just speaks armenian and russian =)
By the way, thanks for the tipp about “10-lesson cd course by Pimsleur for Armenian” πŸ˜‰
Well, I think It would be good If It is mencioned about the way of life in that country. That is very important when you plan to travel overthere!

Bill James

Says:

I comment rarely on blogs but just wanted to stop and say Great Content.

David Dougherty

Says:

Hi guys! I was the one who Chris interviewed for this podcast.

Just to briefly answer your comments. I did not get to know the way of life that well, since I don’t speak much Armenian and I was there as a tourist. However, I can say that in terms of the way of life, it is not a rich country, but the economic level has increased significantly in the past 10 years. The economy went into a freefall in the 1990s. Politically, the place is a little repressive (typically post-Soviet). I witnessed this a little bit, police were sometimes out in force and harassing people. That said, as a visitor, you probably will never have to worry about any of this stuff. I was really careful talking about this stuff with my local friends.

To follow eventst there, there are several good sites in English. http://www.groong.org which Chris also posted, is excellent. http://www.asbarez.com is also good, as is http://www.eurasianet.org . You can follow the latter two on Twitter.

A few months ago I posted an online photo album from my trip. Check it out!

My photo album:
http://www.ipernity.com/doc/david_dougherty/album/105371

Slideshow from this same photo album:
http://www.ipernity.com/doc/34789/album/105371/show

This slideshow has Armenian background music, and you can toggle the caption info on and off. It should give you a taste of the place at the very least.

Michael Fritz

Says:

It was a nice sunny weather in Dilijan on June 2010, the time when we arrived to spend our holidays.
We found the city a bit boring, but rich in nature. we thought there will be much more to see but 2 days
was enough to cover Dilijans tourist atractions. The museums, churches and the old city are the main ones.
We faced food poisening in the B&B service we stayed in, Dili Villa House hotel, I was not sure of that place
from the begining, it was dirty, the owners rud and careless. Surprised about such a hotel specially when you
find its advertised in a good manner in the internet at http://www.dilitours.de it made us build trust but it was a lie !!
After 2 days we left to Ijevan and back to Yerevan.
Dilijan city is a nice place with calm and atmosphere good specially for old people.

Patrik Berhard

Says:

Hi guys, nice blog, on summer 2010 we have been in Armenia, together with my family. I will never forget That small town of Armenia, “Dilijan”, its a touristic location, we have been advised by armenia info centere to visit Dilijan and other places too.
The trip started with a taxi from a main bus station in Yerevan, I loved the long way to Dilijan, crossing many villages till we reach.
upon arrival we had a short tour in the city center, nothing much to see or explore, then we have asked a local taxi driver to advise us with a hotel.
We have been introduced to Dili Villa B&B, which recently I found their services in the internet http://www.dilitours.de
This B&B services was very poor, very standard, nothing spoecial, the price is not corresponding to their services. small old furnished rooms,
not very clean, we avoided using the toilet all the time. We visited the 2 most popular monastries in Dilijan, two museums, and had a walk around the old city.
The best was the weather, the fresh air and the forests around. I also loved the mountains view from the hostel we stayed with a cup of tea
infront of the window. A good place for mountain climbing, and eco tourism.
In General Armenia is an active developing country that we liked, We recommend Armenia for tourists.

Arounie

Says:

Mount Ararat is the number one treasure for Armenian Diaspora. They just adore every painting of the mount.

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