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ARMENIA : WHERE MY FEET TOOK ME IN 4 DAYS AND 3 NIGHTS

Starting the day literally in another country has been one of the best rewarding stimulants to my senses. Witnessing how the sun rises in a different place, strolling around to familiarise myself with the unknown,  trying to figure out how to go about a day while getting lost in translation are a part of the adventures that I enjoy when traveling. The most recent unforgettable scenarios happened in Yerevan and other parts of Armenia.

Wait.

Armenia, what?!?

Where?!?

My sincerest apologies to all Armenians in the world, as I honestly grew up in the far-flung beautiful archipelago in Southeast Asia called, the Philippines – absolutely clueless of where your country is. Thankfully, I relocated to Dubai, UAE and have been aware of the countries proximal to my new home.

ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Exploring Cascade (Kaskad) stairway and fountain complex in Yerevan.

And so, last April 6 – 9, 2017, I and a former colleague and a great friend, Ron, went to Armenia. The trip was supposed to be joined by our other fellows who share the same passion of traveling and photography, however they had to beg off for personal reasons. Nonetheless, I was happy to experience my 34th country with Ron, who was also with me and another friend when we explored Moscow and Saint Petersburg for 7 days in December of 2015.

ARMENIA by docgelo.com
My good friend, Ron on the bridge in that connects Leningradyan to the city.

I’ve always wanted to go to Yerevan, Armenia to experience what almost everybody in UAE has been raving about. If you must know, for some Filipinos living in the emirates, it’s one of the most convenient and affordable countries for their visa-run. Most Kabayans nowadays go to Armenia if not for holiday and leisure, simply to exit and wait for their new visa to make them eligible to enter UAE again. Why Armenia? It’s a short-haul-flight from Dubai or Sharjah, and everything’s easy on the pocket from the 7 USD visa-on-arrival, to less travel requirements. Other than that, Armenia is a Eurasian country that offers rich history, fascinating culture, opulent heritage, interesting cuisine and a warm hospitality of the Armenians.

ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Best Hostel, Leningradyan. Our home for 4 days in Yerevan.

Here are the pertinent details of our trip :

  • Destination : Yerevan and other parts of Armenia
  • Travel duration : 4 days and 3 nights
  • Flight : via FlyDubai (this was not a sponsored trip).
  • Flight duration : 3 hours to Yerevan from Dubai.
  • Return ticket total cost : 1,127.85 AED inclusive of 7 kg carry-on-bag + 20 kg check-in luggage.
  • Tourist Visa : Cost 7 USD, stamped upon arrival. Requirements? Passport valid for 6 months and a return ticket + address of accommodation (No bank statements, no No-Objection-Certificate from employer, etc.).
  • Must-know about Armenia : Armenia is bordered by Georgia to the north, Turkey to the west, Azerbaijan and the de facto independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic to the east, and Iran to the south. The Republic of Armenia recognizes Armenian Apostolic Church, the world’s oldest national church. Their currency is Armenian Dram (1 USD is equivalent to 486 AMD or 3.67 AED). We brought minimal pocket money in USD and exchanged them in AMD at the airport before availing of visa-upon-arrival.
  • Accommodation : Best Hostel in Leningradyan (near Armenian Genocide Museum; kindly note that there’s another branch of Best Hostel in Republic Square, which I think is better – location-wise), at 66 AED (18 USD) for total of 3 nights per pax, in a mixed dorm room, however, we were lucky as the staff wrongly placed us in a private room with 2 single beds, that made our stay better than expected (the only downside was the inconsiderate noise from the Kabayans in the next door room. Please be courteous and sensitive of others specially when you’re outside your own country).
  • Advantages of Best Hostel in Leningradyan  : Cheap rates, friendly and accommodating  staff + the best view of Mount Ararat right across the street; located near a few mini-grocery and convenience stores.
  • Disadvantages of Best Hostel in Leningradyan : Location is far from eateries and restaurants – the nearest is Tashir Pizza restaurant located across the bridge, which is about 15 to 20 minute-walk from the hostel. Two-way-pick up from the airport costs 6,000 Armenian dram per person (12.30 USD or 45.30 AED), which we found a bit expensive because 1 way to the airport costs only 3,000 for entire taxi cab and not per pax. Hence, we only paid one way during our arrival, and simply hailed taxi cab for our departure. And again, biggest disadvantage was the rude noise of utterly shameless fellow-Filipinos in the next door rooms. The authorities of the hostel must do something with lack of respect and courtesy to other guests who wish to stay in peace and solitude during holiday (If you’re a Kabayan reading this, have some decency to act like a respectable Filipino outside the Philippines. Maraming salamat po!).
  • Itineraries and cost of tours: 
    • First day : We went on our city tour by ourselves via walking and taking taxi cab. We explored Cascade (Kaskad), the Opera, some restaurants and ice cream bar, the Republic Square and Yerevan Cathedral or Saint Gregory the Illuminator Church, the largest Apostolic Church in Armenia.
    • Second day :  We went on a day tour that we availed from the hostel for 7,000 Armenian dram per pax (14.30 USD or 53 AED) that included Garni Temple (entrance fee of 1200 AMD or 2.5USD or 9AED), Geghard Monastery (free admission), the Tsaghkadzor Ropeway – a chairlift-cable car (with entrance fee of 2200 AMD or 17 AED or 4.60 USD) and then monasteries and the peaceful lake in Sevan. It was a long drive and I think it’s worth it for the price. The only downside was it was not tour-guided; we only paid for the driver and the transportation nonetheless, the trip was fine as it was only Ron and I and the driver who went on.
    • Third day : We enjoyed an entire day of guided tour from Hyur Services which we highly recommend! We contacted them a day before via phone call at +374 10 546040, and booked for a day tour of Southern Armenia that included a visit and wine tasting to Areni Winery, a visit to a waterfalls and to the Tatev Monastery via Wings of Tatev (a Guiness Book of Records for the longest 2-way aerial tramway) which served as the highlight of our trip. The cost inclusive of return tickets to Wings of Tatev, bottled water, a sweet local chocolate bread, and a very fun and informative tour guiding (by Nurik who deserves a raise for job well done!) was 18,000 Armenian dram per person (136 AED or 37 USD).
    • Fourth day : We woke up early and went to Mother Armenia monument, a great vantage point to view the entire Yerevan skyline. After which, we hailed a taxi cab to Vernissage Market, a very interesting flea market where almost everything is sold from paintings, to usual souvenir items, and to pre-loved antiques.
  • Recommended places to eat based on what we sampled :
    • For Armenian food and some Georgian dishes, go to Tun Lahmajo in Teryan St.Yerevan, Armenia.  A lot of my photos were corrupted included those taken from our dinner in Lahmajo however, I guarantee – it has the best rustic ambiance, quick and friendly service, however local food requires acquired taste.
    • For casual dining and to satisfy craving for pasta and pizza that are cooked Armenian way (at least it’s different from those I sampled in Italy), order them from Tashir Pizza. Consider it a local version of their Pizza Hut that’s found at almost every corner, well not really but they’re many branches around Yerevan!
    • For late night coffee or hot chocolate, Jazzve Cafe near Republic Square.
    • And Old Beijing restaurant for Chinese food!
    • There’s a lot of soft ice cream kiosks in the city, indulge for cheap treats!
    • And never leave Yerevan without sampling their hot piping bread! Lots of them! Yummy!
  • Total budget for 4 days and 3 nights, inclusive of airfare, tourist visa, accommodation, food, transportation, day tours, some souvenir items and basically everything  : 2,500 AED (or 681 USD).
  • Best one thing about Armenia : Seeing Mount Ararat, the snowcapped mountain located at Eastern Turkey, however the best view’s in Yerevan, which is traditionally perceived as the resting place of Noah’s Ark.

Here’s a chronological photoessay

of our entire trip in Armenia. 

Enjoy!

ARMENIA by docgelo.com
First day high : Lucky to witness Mount Ararat’s full glory sans clouds!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
After quick check in, we walked & took a taxi cab to Cascade (Kaskad) in Yerevan Central.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
We’re supposed to go first to Republic Square but lost in translation with taxi driver.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Ended up with a better introduction to Yerevan! Breathtaking views from Cascade!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
If you go up to Cascade, you’ll end up crossing the street to Mother Armenia monument.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Definitely, one of the massive and peaceful public parks in the world that I’ve been to!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
However, it physically challenged my lungs and leg powers. The view was all worth it!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Certainly, a nice place to meet pleasant people.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
And some friendly and fluffy dogs!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
I was honestly hesitant to ride the public buses and their tram. Have you tried?
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Spent an hour in Cascade, then we crossed the road to the Opera.  Greeted by Spring!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
A glimpse to Armenian National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
First meal in Yerevan : Pizza!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Few more steps, and we reached the iconic, Republic Square in Yerevan!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Republic Square’s a must-visit when you’re in town; lovely in the day, prettier at night!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Morning walk led us to interesting sights from colorful public parks to Apostolic churches.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral, currently the largest Armenian Apostolic Church.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Day 2 in Armenia : Day Tour availed from hostel. First stop : Garni Temple.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Garni is an ancient pagan temple; the best symbol of pre-Christian Armenia.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Temple of Garni is the only remaining Greco-Roman colonnaded building in Armenia.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
UNESCO awarded Temple of Garni for being well preserved heritage site.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Having such historic relevance, making it as backdrop for self-portrait is inevitable. Ha!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Day 2 second stop : Geghard Monastery.  Too bad, I lost my photos from here.
geghard
Take note of the Armenian crosses, doors and sweet nuts found outside Geghard. Of course, that adorable teddy bear is my ever loyal travel buddy, @gelothebear. Follow his adventures in IG!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
We had lunch in Sevan and then we’re brought to this amazing place.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Our last stop for the day : Lake Sevan!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Day 3 – Tatev Day Tour availed from Hyur Services. Call time at 8:30AM. 
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Long but fun drive. Our first stop : Areni Winery.  Free fruit-wine tasting! Yehey!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
I, Ron and Ate Ema, our new Dubai-based Filipina friend whom we met in the tour.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Spent more time in wine tasting which was good! But outside scenes were also interesting.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Enjoyed tasting wines from berries, peaches, apricots which are grown in the region.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
I didn’t expect our road trip to Southern Armenia will show us snow!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
I became a happy kiddo when our tour guide, Nurik allowed us photo-op by the road!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
It’s like Gudauri and Kazbegi in Georgia. Beautiful, immaculate, snowcapped mountains!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Our van had mechanical issues so we needed to join the Russian group of tourists.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
We hiked a bit to this waterfalls; too little flow as it’s used to produce electricity.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Then, issues with our van was repaired so we joined our tour mates in time for lunch!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Ate Ems had this Armenian vegetarian dish made of mushrooms and Sorrel.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
While Ron and I ordered same plate of beef meatballs and rice.  Cost 5,000AMD per pax.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Finally, Wings of Tatev! The longest aerial ropeway in Guiness Book of Records!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Good thing, return ticket to the tram was included in our Day Tour package with Hyur.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Seated on my right is the best tour guide ever, Nurik; here with our bunch of tour mates!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Spotted small and humble village in the middle of nowhere.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
The flight on board Wings of Tatev took about more or less 15 minutes with such views.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Ahhhh! Tatev Monastery!
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What an experience going to this ancient monastery via cable car!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
The weather at less than 15 degrees was just perfect!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
The 9th century, Tatev Monastery in Syunik province is a must-see when you’re in Armenia.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
The ceiling under the dome of Tatev Monastery (Yes, photography is allowed).
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Some interesting religious relics within the compound.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
And a souvenir-I-was-here-shot in Tatev to end the day.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
We return via Wings of Tatev, then a long drive back to Yerevan.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Day 4 : Woke up early, took a taxi cab to Mother Armenia monument.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Mother Armenia is in Victory Park with incredibly gorgeous view of downtown Yerevan.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
The monument symbolises peace through strength.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Behind the monument is an irresistibly photogenic stairs.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Last glimpse of Yerevan from Victory Park.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Then, off we went to Vernissage Market, a fascinating cheap flea market in Yerevan.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Anything from pre-loved porcelain, oil paintings, souvenirs, handicrafts are there!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
My eyes popped out when I saw familiar instruments that I used to hold in theatres!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
If only I’ve extra pocket money, I could’ve bought more than 1 from this set. 
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Old is gold!!!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
There’s really something for everyone at Vernissage Market in Yerevan!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Do you fancy these art tools and whatnot?
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Or a magic carpet ride?
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A whole new world!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
A new horizon to pursue…! Hahaha! That’s a song for another story.
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Imagine, even kidney basins are sold there in Vernissage Market! Amazing!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
But I’m happy for my friend who got this Noah’s Ark painting plus 2 more masterpieces!
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
While I brought home Mount Ararat with me for only 5,000 AMD (38 AED or 10.20 USD).
ARMENIA by docgelo.com
Thanks for the memories, Armenia!

Have you been to Armenia? How was your experience?

12 Comments

  1. Hello Doc Gelo..I enjoyed reading your post while missing Armenia on the other hand. There’s always something to looked forward to in Armenia..Parang 4 days is not enough, and dami-dami pang lugar na magaganda na pwedeng puntahan. Very pristine and gorgeous. 🙂

    • docgelo docgelo

      Thank you!

      I’ve been to Georgia 2 years before traveling to Armenia, so I couldn’t help but compare some geographical and culinary similarities, but of course, there are a lot of differences to appreciate as well.

      Have you been to Georgia too?
      Let me know if you feel the same.

  2. ems ems

    Beautiful country indeed ! thankful to meet u & ron… God Bless & Good luck Docgelo 🙂 sharing your blog on my fb wall 😉

    • docgelo docgelo

      Thanks, Ate Ems!
      Glad we met and enjoyed the tour!

  3. Jv Jv

    Listing this down on my bucket list! Your posts are always helpful & travel-trigger! 🙂

    • docgelo docgelo

      Thanks, Joanna!
      With your travel history, Armenia isn’t surprising to be in your list.

  4. Ed Abit Ed Abit

    That Ararat Mountain. I wish it appeared when we were there. Yan yung gusto kong baliakan. hehe. Stunning pics Doc as always. hehe

    • docgelo docgelo

      Thank you, Ed!
      Sinuwerte Lang kami, must be first day luck. The succeeding days were cloudy too like when you visit.

  5. Jojo Jojo

    …another great escape of yours Doc. Great views/pics. Amazing Armenia. Ganda! Humahaba naman listihan ko sa mga pupuntahan. 😊😁🤞Thanks doc for sharing again your awesome blog! Thumbs up! Mahusay! Magaling. 😀👍👏

    • docgelo docgelo

      Thank you!

  6. Alzee Jadjuli Alzee Jadjuli

    Doc Gelo,

    Now I have an idea where to go for exit while waiting to renew my UAE visa!
    Such a lovely and pristine country! And the snow! wahaha!

    • docgelo docgelo

      Doc, thanks for reading my blog!
      Try to Google DocGelo Georgia so you may have options. Thanks again!

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