It is going to be a very long night

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

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Where I stayed
Zvartnots International Airport

Flag of Armenia  ,
Friday, October 18, 2013

Well, it is going to be a very long, uncomfortable night, as far as I can tell at the moment.

The morning was quite uneventful:  I ate breakfast, showered, packed, played a bit on the computer until Windows Explorer shut down again, and then read an Agatha Christie mystery I picked up in Gori, Georgia that I am now quite sure I have read before.  But since I am not remembering the plot until I re-read it, I guess that is OK.

My taxi driver Stefan came early and we were off before the appointed noontime.  He zipped around a few streets new to me in Tbilisi, passed the baths, and went out the city next to the major river - I now wished I had taken a walk along it.  He is quite an aggressive driver, swerving to go around other vehicles that he deems too slow so I am sure this will be an exciting drive.  He asked me if I smoked and then asked if I minded his smoking.  I kind of started to say something but it turned into not much of anything, but he has been very courteous and didn't smoke inside the car.

I didn't think I had been this way on our way into Tbilisi:  The landscape was pretty agricultural - wide valley with large fields, mostly plowed now.  There were mountains beyond the valley that I could see.  It was pretty much like this for the hour and half until we got to the border crossing. 

Stefan didn't speak much English so we had a bit of difficulty negotiating the border crossing.  Georgia was no problem and the border guard there verified that I would need a visa for Armenia - Stefan doesn't - fair enough.  He drove right up to the booths at the Armenian border and we were told I needed to get my visa at a building we had already passed.  I walked back, found the window, filled out a form, paid my fee with my last remaining Georgian money (except for my taxi fare) and found Stefan on the other side of the booths.  He then had to get documents for the taxi and put a sticker on the window.  This took a little time.

Then we were off again swerving around corners and cars and bumping along on the Armenian roads.  This highway was pretty good compared to some of the Armenian roads we traveled on during the Explore tour in our bus.  The Armenian landscape was not anything different from what I had seen before - there were mountains mostly - some covered in trees, others by fields or grazing pastures, and some pretty bare.  I didn't recognize anything until we hit Dilidjan where I remembered the architectural street and then Stefan pointed out Lake Sevan.  All along the way we passed people with their fruit stands, or buckets of produce and in one section there were grilled corn vendors with smoke rising from their barbecues.  Right now I can't remember much more of note, although I do remember that there was something that I definitely wanted to mention in the blog.  Oh, well.

We hit Yerevan just around 5 pm when the traffic is probably at its peak.  There was a lot of it.  When we were entering Yerevan, Stefan wanted to know the address of my destination.  I told him the airport and found out that he didn't know where it was.  This presented somewhat of a problem since I didn't either and none of the gadgets on his dashboard contained a GPS.  I realized that the Russian pop music that sounded vaguely familiar from my 1984 trip to Russia must have been his own selections - there were also some songs in English.  That didn't help much in finding the airport.  We seemed at a loss for awhile.  I suggested he ask one of the other taxis and I think at first he thought I wanted out and would get another taxi, but not so quick, buddy.  Then he started to beep his horn and pull up to other taxis and the driver would give him some directions.  I caught "straight ahead" a lot and then there were some "right"s, "left"s, and a lot of hand waving and talking.  I lost track of how many times this occurred.  We passed the Vernissage Market on the Ring Road, the French Embassy, the Children's Park, the USA Embassy, the Armenian cognac factory and were now on the other side of the city center.  Here poor Stefan began to lose it as he made a wrong turn, had to do a u-turn and some other fancy corrections and I totally lost track of our direction.  He kept muttering something that sounded an awful lot like "shit."  Not too long afterward we seemed to be in some deserted area and I realized we were nearing the airport. 

Then poor Stefan faced another hassle when we entered the airport grounds and he tried to drop me off.  He was reluctant to pick up a parking ticket and instead he drove around, making u-turns and whipping around corners until we came to a parking lot again.  There he composed himself and started to beep at a Mercedes taxi.  This taxi was very unhelpful and sped away with Stefan in pursuit.  Then he gave up on that taxi and picked up a parking ticket and dropped me off in front of the departures door.  It was around 6 pm.

The lobby here has a few bench seats with armrests in between to discourage sleeping I guess.  There is a restaurant/cafe area with tables and chairs - not any more comfortable really.  Hard to say how I will spend my time from now - almost 7 pm - until after midnight when I might be able to check in - I am not sure where exactly but I have plenty of time to find out.  So now I will have a bite to eat and diminish my food supplies before doing some repacking.

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