Trying to Sightsee with Biological Clock Off

Trip Start Sep 18, 2013
Trip End Oct 19, 2013

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Where I stayed
SD Hotel
What I did
Mt Ararat
Republic Square
Khor Virap Monastery

Flag of Armenia  ,
Friday, September 20, 2013

Here it is 7:30 pm and I am very sleepy - not sure how much blogging and photo uploading I will get done.  And I slept in this morning too - until 11 am.  But I think there were mitigating circumstances:

Last night I managed to sleep a fair amount on those banquettes at the Vienna Airport and magically woke up as the announcement to board was made.  This was about 10:30 pm after spending a relaxing day at the oh, so very comfortable Vienna Airport.  I didn't find the shops - with very expensive books in the bookshop - until dinner time and didn't buy much except I spent the rest of my euros (that I brought back with me) on dinner.  Once in the air we had some kind of light dinner -- the flight attendant called it lunch and then corrected herself.  And then I shut my light off because every one else's was off and I slept some more.  I think we may have had some kind of panini - turkey, ham and cheese - where the cheese glopped out of the bottom and into the little paper sack making it all quite greasy.  So we arrived in Yerevan at 3:30 am after a 3 hr flight. 

I spent some time trying to get my visa - first I got some money changed - the man misinformed me about how much I would need - I hadn't found an ATM on this side of the airport so had to change US dollars.  I had to start a second visa application because I started filling in my birth date instead of visa issue date - then I noticed I didn't have my application when I got to the head of the visa line and had to rush back to get it.  All that accomplished, off to baggage claim and then out past the non-existent customs and into the lobby looking for an ATM.  I was harassed by would-be taxi drivers, but got my drams.  I acquired a taxi driver but unfortunately I wasn't on top of things here.  I should have been leery when he kept asking people for my hotel.  I thought showing him the little map on my booking confirmation would help, but apparently he didn't relate to maps well.  At one point, after driving around - hopefully narrowing in on my hotel - and asking questions, he pointed in a parking lot and said there was the hotel at the other end.  I didn't see my hotel...or any hotel for that matter, so I stayed in the taxi...I wasn't going to budge until I got to the right hotel.  He was wanting money - in Armenian, in Russian....and I was wanting my hotel.  Finally he found it.  Unfortunately, I hadn't thought about getting a room for this half night and so I landed at the hotel with no reservation for tonight/this morning.  The receptionist was nice and gave me a vacated room and I slept.....I did wake up once, but talked myself out of getting up because I didn't think it was 10 am yet and my watch hadn't been reset to the correct time.  I tried the phone but it had no dial tone.  I wasn't sure I had the key so I didn't want to leave the room....unlocked...or lock myself out.

Everything worked out.  I met a very nice young woman - the owner maybe - Naira - this morning and she sent me to breakfast and then showed me to my new room.  By now it was around 11:30 am.  I had thought I would walk into the center of Yerevan and go to some museums but she talked me into going to Khor Virap Monastery so I could see the holy Mt Ararat.  The taxi ride there and back was convenient but more expensive than I would ordinarily want to pay.  Now I think the Explore tour is also going there so it may have been a waste in a way, but I had a nice relaxed time wandering around the old buildings in the citadel and checking out the church.  I liked the stonework.  There looked like serious storm clouds on the drive there and I was sorry I hadn't brought my raincoat, but it didn't rain and the clouds did even part a bit so I could get a view of the higher of Ararat's peaks with its snow even though it was still very hazy.  On the way back the taxi driver took me to an ATM so I could get cash to pay for my hotel room bill.

I got back around 4 pm, had a snack from my stores, and set off for Republic Square on foot.  Naira said it was a twenty minute walk so when I had walked 30 minutes, I started getting anxious.  I couldn't figure out where I couldn't have gone wrong, so kept on going.  No landmarks matched my map.  Finally I saw a break in the buildings and hoped that I would reach it within the hour and there it was - quite impressive with all the fancy stonework, columns, multi-colored patterns in the facades, and the decorated details.  I saw the National Museum of Art (I think) and it is open on weekends, contrary to what Naira had told me.  I tried to walk more quickly back so it wouldn't take so long and I would be back by dark, but it seemed to take nearly another hour for the return walk.  I got a pastry with cheese filling and a bottle of water 2 1/2 times more expensive than the last one I bought.  Oh, well.  I will have to try to brush up on my Russian - I read where if you bargain in Russian, you pay half what a foreign tourist pays.  Worth a try.

Since I am tired, I won't ramble on with observations.  However, even though I did know that Armenia was a SSR at one time, I was unprepared for the lingering Russian influence.  There are many signs in English as well as Armenian, but Russian seems as if it is the second language here.  The taxi driver last night used it, some radio stations are Russian and it seems quite prevalent.  My old guidebook says that only 2% of the population is Russian.  Naira asked if I were Russian because of my eye and hair color.  I do see quite a few blondes on the streets - maybe mostly dyed - and some really wicked high heels.  The ladies walk amazingly well in then - even over the uneven pavement.

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