We have just spent 3 nights in Goris which is said to be ‘one of the top 10 nicest towns in Armenia’.
Goris made my mind up – I am leaving Armenia and going to Georgia.
To get to Georgia I have to go through the length of Armenia and connect in (the capital city) Yerevan. I decided to have a quick look at Yerevan on the way …
The currency in Armenia is the Dram (or the ‘AMD’). I will refer to them as A$s. At the time of writing:
Over time, these exchange rates will change. Please check the current rates.
Only 2 minibuses leave Goris for Yerevan each day. They leave at 9am and 3pm. I caught the 9am. I pre-purchased my ticket at the Elite Tours Office located on Komitas Street near SF International UCO. The ticket was A$2,500.
Some minibuses have a very small luggage compartment behind the back seat. If you have a big backpack or suitcase, it will not fit. You will have to put your luggage inside the minibus. If it is put inside, you may be charged for a seat. I told Elite Tours that I had a big suitcase and asked if it was a problem. She said no.
This bus station is co-located with the Sasuntsi David Metro Station. I bought my flat-rate A$100 Metro Ticket and took the 2 stops to Republic Square.
The history of Yerevan dates back to the 8th century BC, with the founding of the fortress of Erebuni in 782 BC by king Argishti I. In the latter years of the ancient Armenian Kingdom, new capital cities were established and Yerevan declined in importance.
After World War I, Yerevan became the capital of the First Republic of Armenia as thousands of survivors of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire arrived.
Armenia achieved full independence in 1991.
Our walk starts at my accommodation in Republic Square. We walk north past the Opera Theatre to the Cascade. We double back to Republic Square via some back streets and the Vernissage.
Just another city.
This is what GRANDPAckers can expect to find at short notice in late September:
PLEASE NOTE: HOTELS usually display prices INCLUSIVE of TAXES. But many search sites (like HOTELS) don’t provide a ‘private bathroom’ filter, so be careful with some of the cheap hotels and make sure that you read the room details.
AIRBnB / HOLIDAY RENTALS:
PLEASE NOTE: Other sites (such as Homeaway, FlipKey and VRBO are also worth a look).
Guest House / Homestay accommodation is very popular in this part of the World. This means that sites like AirBnB usually have several listings. That said, many such listings are also now available on BOOKING.COM where you tend to get better value for money (because you avoid AirBnB’s service and cleaning fees). HOTELS does not usually do well in the Armenian marketplace … but, this time, it has some good options / discounts.
I used HOTELS to book a Double Room (single occupancy) including Breakfast in the Best Hostel Republic Square. The price was A$11,300 / US$24 per night for 3 nights. I chose it for its location: on Republic Square. Best Hostel is set below ground.
No TV. No kitchenette. No fridge. No wardrobe (so, out came my washing line again). No Daily Housekeeping. The bed was BAD; one of the worst that I have had in over 5 years of continual World travel. It had no padding on it. You, basically, slept on the raw springs … at least 2 of which were broken and I had to dodge the metal spikes poking up into the bed. The door handle was hanging on with 1 loose screw. The shower was warm and never hot. Each room has its own wifi router. Mine had no power lead so I logged on to the wifi in the adjacent room. The wifi at reception and in the restaurant was unreliable. The Breakfast was minimal and mostly bread.
On the positive side, the in-room wifi was good and fast enough to stream video.
WHERE TO STAY:
When I first flew into Yerevan from Romania, I pre-booked an apartment in the KOND area near the Blue Mosque. This is a run-down area and I do not recommend it. Many of the cheapest options are found in KOND.
You should look for somewhere in the highlighted zone. The Vernissage area is the nicest if you want to get away from the historical centre.
Have a look yourself:
EAT & DRINK:
This is a city: you have a full range of options.
You can find cheap places to eat where a meal can cost under A$1,500 / US$3. One such place is Elie’s Lahmajun.
Brandy is the most popular drink in Armenia. A local 3 year 500ml bottle starts at A$2,500; add another A$500 for each year … so, expect to pay A$4,500 for a 7 year cheap local Brandy.
A 2L bottle of Coke / Pepsi costs A$650.
Dream Armenia lists which inter-city buses leave from which bus station.
You can also find Money Exchanges.
INTERNET / WIFI:
Don’t trust your hotel to provide good wifi in our GRANDPAcking price range.
There are 3 main prepaid providers in Armenia.
I chose Beeline.
You need your passport to register your new SIMcard. The girl at the counter spoke English. She configured it up for me whilst I waited. I immediately downloaded the Beeline smartphone app. Fortunately, the app has an English option.
In Goris I had to use my Mobile Data to connect my laptop to the internet. I left it on overnight. Windows decided to use up all of my data allowance to download an update. Thanks Microsoft! In Yerevan, I went to Beeline and bought another 5GBs lasting 10 days for A$2,500.
HEALTH & SAFETY:
There is no reason to feel unsafe. As always, exercise normal levels of caution … don’t make yourself an obvious target.
WHEN TO GO
The best time to come is April through October.
WHAT TO DO:
The Opera Theatre is the main spectacle hall, the National Gallery of Armenia is the largest art museum in the Republic of Armenia and shares a building with the History Museum of Armenia, and the Matenadaran repository contains one of the largest depositories of ancient books and manuscripts in the world.
Erebuni Fortress is considered to be the birthplace of the city, Katoghike Tsiranavor church is the oldest surviving church, and Saint Gregory Cathedral is the largest Armenian cathedral in the world.
Tsitsernakaberd is the official memorial to the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
Yerevan is not an attractive city. It lacks the historical feel that many European capital cities have.
But, it does have a reasonably pleasant, small city centre.
I do not recommend that you stay here. Given the poor inter-city bus system in Armenia and the fact that almost all connect in Yerevan, you may find that you need to stay in Yerevan whilst in transit. If you do, 2 nights is enough. This will give you 1 full day to look around the historical centre.