Saturday, March 30, 2013

Day 3 - Yerevan!

Saturday morning we were Yerevan bound! Like every traveler's "fool-proof plans", our's also fall apart from time to time.  In short, it turns out that no marshrutki would be leaving to Yerevan from the main train station, so we were directed to a city marshrutka headed to one of the main bus stations in Tbilisi.  At the bus station a man was again trying to get us to hire him as a driver, but I really just had to say no.  It's not even that we wanted so terribly much money for it, in fact he said it would be the same price per person as the marshrutka, but something in me just had to say no.  Maybe it was just the fact that the marshrutka had been our plan from day one and I wasn't in the mood to switch anything up.  Whatever the reason, we eventually found the marshrutki headed to Yerevan and made our way to Armenia in the company of Armenian, Georgian, and Russian traveling companions.  There was a cute little old man sitting next to Mario and I with whom we made some small talk throughout the trip. He may have been very somewhat confused, but he was funny, kind, and interesting.

At the boarder, I was the only passenger who needed to get a visa.  It's a very easy process, but the dilemma came in that I was lead to believe from what I read on the internet that I could pay for the visa in euros or dollars.  It turns out I had to pay in Armenian dram, of which I had none.  There was an automat for changing money near the visa window, but it wasn't working, no matter how many times the guard tried to tell me that it worked just fine.  Honestly, I don't think it was even turned on! Mario had already gone on to the boarder to explain to the waiting driver and passengers what was taking so long.  The guard offered to take Mario's passport and let him unofficially cross the money to get Armenian currency to bring back across the boarder to me.  The guards were so relaxed, chilled out, and friendly and I eventually got the money I needed to pay for my visa.  Soon enough we were on the road again.  The roads in Armenia were definitely worse than those in Georgia.  We bounced around a lot more after the boarder and swerved this way and that as the driver attempted to avoid the meter wide potholes and unexpected dips in the road.

By the time that magical marshrutka ride had ended we realized that we would be able to follow essentially one main street straight to our hostel from the bus station.  It was somewhere between a 2 and 3 kilometer walk, but who's counting? The weather was great and we had plenty of time on our hands, so the walk was well worth it.  At the hostel we checked in and then were headed out again to do some initial exploring of the city.  We bought ice cream from a little shop directly on the central square and joked about it being "the most expensive ice cream in Armenia".  It probably wasn't, but it certainly was delicious! Our first impressions of Yerevan were excellent! We walked until we were chilly enough that we needed to fetch our jackets from the hostel and then set out again.  For dinner we decided to go to an Indian restaurant and I was overjoyed to eat Indian food for the first time in almost a year.  Yummmmmmm!!! A little while after dinner we had drinks at a Cuban bar where we listened to some live music and tried the "Special Cuban Cocktail".  It still wasn't terribly late when we got back to the hostel, but I started to not feel so well and called it a night sometime after midnight.

Armenia time!

Taking pictures on the drive to pass the time

more pictures from the marshrutka - snow-covered mountains

Main bus station in Yerevan!

Mario and his "wide load" :)


Yerevan bench)))

Being not so far from the Iranian boarder, we saw lots of Iranian cars and met many Iranian people

City center walks

Opera Square

The most dangerous (round) intersection madness!

Pedestrian street

Republic Square

The most expensive ice cream in Armenia ;)

Cuban bar!

Mario drinking the special cuban cocktail

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