According to today’s Armenian evening news report, since Saturday the 8th, around 8000 Armenian citizens have returned home from Georgian Black See cost – popular summer holiday destination for many Armenians.With the escalation of the situation in Georgia came the warnings of the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Armenian tourists to return home, along with measures taken by the Armenian authorities to provide assistance and transportation for those citizens who need it. (517design has shared his experience of that assistance).
As the roads in Eastern and Northern Georgia have become unsafe and reports of bombing a military(?) airport near Tbilisi have made air travel from Georgia problematic, the diplomatic missions of US and UK have issued warnings for expats and foreign nationals in Georgia on various other missions and business to leave the country. Many have chosen the road South – to Armenia. 2000 foreign citizens are reported to have crossed the Armenian border by now. To cope with the increasing flow of foreigners, Armenian customs officials have started giving visas free of charge (normally a $35 US fee) and with simplified procedure. There are also accounts of many wealthy Georgians bringing their families to Armenia.
Georgian officials are reported to be very nice to all foreigners willing to flee the country, except Russian nationals – who are apparently being illegally held as prisoners. The Georgian authorities have also started illegally confiscating fuel and natural gas destined for Armenia, but that is nothing new for us – our Northern neighbors have always been in the habit of overcharging and stealing from Armenia whenever they had the opportunity.
Seeing, that there will be a lot of foreign guests in Armenia’s capital Yerevan, Katy, who often comments on this blog, has put together a short but very informative guide for the expats:
http://www.armeniapedia.org is THE guide to Yerevan.
Russian works well for getting around. Armenians are much more tolerant of Russian language use than Georgians. English works a bit, especially closer to the center, but don’t expect English from anyone but in the hotels and tourist places.
Our ATMs don’t give out dollars. Try to take out a weird amount (19,000) to get some low bills. Only at nice dining establishments will anyone take a large bill.
300 dram = $1
Have exact change if you can.
Cabs are 500 dram to start and 100 dram for every kilometer after. So a trip in town is 600 dram. Taxi drivers will never give you change. If you were a bit complicated or hard to understand, give ’em 700 dram.
Envoy Hostel is the cheapest place to stay and is in a great location
There is another hostel-type place at 52 Mashtots Prospekt, but is a bit more Soviet.
There are 3 places to get free wifi easily in Yerevan:
1. The Club on Toumanyan – also has excellent affordable food, good service, and I give it my highest recommendation
2. YumYum donuts on Toumanyan (not the branch on Mashtots Prospekt)
3. Jan Jak French place on Toumanyan
Our Internet is slow here, so don’t expect to be able to Skype or download big files.
Your best bet for dealing with the travel agents and airlines is to go to their offices. Most of these are located on Sayat Nova street. They will speak English.
There are lots of places to eat here. The Club on Toumanyan is great. I’d also recommend Art Bridge on Abovyan. Langoid way over on Nalbandyan is a bit tougher to get to, but has excellent Syrian food and is quite cheap. There is a Thai place on Sayat Nova across from the puppet theatre. Cheap and authentic!
As opposed to Tbilisi, Yerevan is all about open air cafes. Most of these places will also serve basic food. Quality varies.
We’re happy to help with any questions! Feel free to message. Good luck traveling!