• O.G. Wright

Why Travel To Armenia And Ditch The Traditional A To A?

Updated: Sep 16, 2018

You’re not going to break your pocket if you travel to Armenia. Trust me.

A few days ago, I went to Armenia to travel and witness what my close friends were saying about the place when they had changed their UAE visa status.

I booked through Al Qadi Tourism because of its reliable services being offered to many nationalities for over one decade in the country. They also booked my 3-day stay in a hostel called Classy and Cozy Hostel.

Before travelling to this place, I’ve checked the weather in the place. It ranges from 20 to 25 degrees Celsius and I thought of bringing three jackets just in case it gets cooler in my three-day stay in the country. Other important stuff I brought are toothbrush, toothpaste, sleepers, towel, soaps, and clothes.

You better prepare $10 because dirhams are not accepted to pay for Armenia’s visa-on-arrival.

I’ve also heard from a friend that it’s better to change dirhams to US dollars first, then change it to Armenian drams to get a higher value. I was not able to do this, I got my dirhams changed at one of the exchange centres at the Terminal 2 of the Dubai International Airport while waiting for my flyDubai flight to Yerevan.

The travel time was only 2 hours and 43 minutes.

Upon arrival at the Yerevan Airport, I was welcomed with a very refreshing outside-view environment.

The grass near the runway is not the traditional green, they’re color yellow! It’s not what I always see in the Philippines or even in Dubai, I thought to myself.

As I was lining up to get an Armenian visa, I peeked at one of the immigration officers and I thought to myself that Armenians are very good-looking.

To get the visa stamp, I was asked how many days will I spend in the country. They will also ask $10 for the visa payment.

My private room in the hostel is pretty decent. I have my own TV, a balcony and a king-size bed. Just like any other hotel, they only offer free breakfast.

During my first day in the city, I’ve gotten to know that Armenia is the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as a state of religion. I also found a rich cultural heritage where ancient sights abound.

I availed a 2-day travel that cost around Dh130.

Before I start my tour, I ate first in a restaurant called Karas National Food Chain and ordered three pork loins and a pizza. It took around 50 minutes to finish the pork loin and I was not impressed with the serving time and just took away the food before they even served it.

My first stop was the ever-famous Republic Square, which is the central town square in Yerevan. It consists of two sections: an oval roundabout and a trapezoid-shaped section which contains a pool with a musical fountain. The architectural ensemble includes the Government House, the History of Museum and the National Gallery, Armenia Marriott Hotel and the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Transport and Communications. What’s the highlight of the place? The huge fountain and its very cold water! The place is where Nas Daily took one of his vlogs for the city.

My next stop was in an open-air market called Vernissage. Merchants sell souvenir stuff and a collection of different types of traditional Armenian artworks. I bought some ref magnets with ‘I Love Armenia’ imprint for my friends in Dubai. I also purchased a cap for my brother with ARMENIA emboss.

I then went to the Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex. It’s on top of a hill and dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide. I noticed some locals giving tribute to their countrymen by bringing flowers and offering prayers.

Around 3pm, I asked my tour guide if I can ditch the last two spots – Mother of Armenia and Cascade – because I was a bit tired from walking and I never get a chance to rest when I arrived in the country.

My second day was a bit extreme. In the hostel, I met a few friends who were waiting for their UAE visa to be processed.

I tried to ride at the cable cars of Tsaghkadzor Ropeway and I never felt my fear of heights when I witness the beautiful and colorful mountains surrounding the place. I was in awe. Words are not enough to describe the breathtaking place and the experience. Although it’s not winter season, at the top of the hill I felt the cold and crisp air blowing on my face. I paid AMD2,000 (Dh15) for the ride. On the mountaintop, there are options of horse ride and squad bike ride for a minimal fee.

Next was an ancient church-like called Sevan Monastery. This small church is also located on top of the hill (250 steps!) which offers a picturesque view of the Lake Sevan and other huge mountains. Don’t forget to try their fresh fruit berries, apricot, grapes.

Some hundred kilometres away from the Lake Sevan, we took off to a monastery again called Geghard Monastery which is built on a rocky and steep mountain.

I and my newly-found friends never miss a single spot in the place that we’ve visited on my second day. If you visit a great place like Armenia, you better be with a friend who knows your best camera angle, and who knows directions!

My last night in Yerevan was memorable. I ate in a fancy restaurant and I and my Filipinos and non-Filipino friends went to a local bar. Unfortunately, there were only a few people unwinding. We met a few locals as well. And I realized that Filipinos are not the only hospitable country. They are too! Although a majority of them don't use the universal language, they at least try to converse with the tourists in the area with broken English. 

My advice to those who want to exit UAE, try something new other than the traditional Airport To Airport. Armenia is not an expensive place to stay. You can survive there with only Dh700 allowance.

My trip to Armenia only costs around Dh1,500 and that already includes hostel stay, and a private car to pick up and drop you off at the Yerevan Airport. 

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