Yerevan's tourist-friendly metro. VIDEO

Yerevan Metro after Karen Demirchyan | © Artur Papyan

Yerevan’s metro – the underground transport system (launched in 1981), is a true blessing on hot summer days. The Soviet built metro serves 10 stations and is only 13,4 kilometers long short. I mean – it is quite short actually and mostly serves the central Yerevan. The number of passengers is surprisingly quite low, ranging between 40-42 thousand on regular working days, although it’s the cheapest public transport available costing less than 15 cents (50 drams).
The metro wasn’t very fit for tourists until recently, as all signs were only in Armenian and Russian. About a month ago I met a lost French tourist in “Baghramian” station. The poor woman had no idea where she was and where to go – looking at the map in her hands with a lost expression on her face. I accompanied her all the way to “Hanrapetakan” (Republic Square) metro station, so she could find her hotel. Continue reading “Yerevan's tourist-friendly metro. VIDEO”

The Government's Anti-Casino Bill

casinoCasinos will be allowed to operate only in Tsakhadzor, Sevan and Jermuk from January 1, 2013, if a government bill proposed earlier this month passes in parliament.
While announcing the news at the government session on June 6th, Prime Minister Tigran Sargsian said it’s the ‘principal stance’ of President Serzh Sarkisian and himself, to ban casinos from operating in and near Yerevan and in central locations of the country. Continue reading “The Government's Anti-Casino Bill”

$4 for Yerevan-Gyumri travel on a wooden chair

Hand-made wooden chair in Yerevan-Gyumri minibus (c) Artur Papyan, The Armenian Observer blog, January 2009

My last trip from Yerevan to Gyumri was quite an experience.  The car was slow and dirty, the driver kept stopping with 15 passengers inside first to load the little free space left in the minibus with some boxes and a large stack of flowers, tied in bundles, which he obviously was going to deliver to some flower service in Gyumri and get extra money for it. He than stopped to pick up one more passenger and handed him a hand-made wooden chair (we call those with Russian word ‘taburetka’) for the latter to sit on while travelling the 2 hour long trip. To crown it all – the driver, who never stopped smoking for a minute and kept the driver’s window open for the smoke to go out in freezing winter weather, decided to stop for a natural gas refill station in Mastara (a  place half-ways between Gyumri and Yerevan).  Continue reading “$4 for Yerevan-Gyumri travel on a wooden chair”

Armenia's tourist competitiveness index defective

YEREVAN, March 31. /ARKA/. The index of Armenia‘s tourist competitiveness does not properly reflect the real situation, Head of the Tourism Department, RA Ministry of Trade and Economic Development, Mekhak Apresyan stated, commenting on a report on international competitiveness in the tourist sphere for 2008 prepared by the World Economic Forum. According to the report, Armenia ranks 89th among 130 countries this year, whereas it tanked 74th in 2007.

“I do not think that Armenia is implementing a passive marketing policy, all the more so that, in contrast to the other countries of the region, we were the first to start advertising our country on CNN and EuroNews,” Apresyan told reporters. He added that it is a passive marketing policy and improper presentation of the country on the world market that are Armenia‘s major problems.

He stressed that Armenia is also actively participating in about ten international tourist exhibitions, giving priority to the target markets. However, the authors of the report have different ideas of the priorities of participation in international exhibitions.

“We are not going to participate in exhibitions Armenia is not interested in as a potential market for tourists only to get a higher rating in the world competitiveness report. We intend to participate in the projects we are interested in,” Apresyan said.

He admitted the shortcomings in infrastructure, but expressed the opinion that Armenia is at a higher level of business environment management than indicated in the report.

“I think that it is necessary to hold meetings and carry out explanatory work with the authors of the report, especially in the context of the Government’s active policy of developing Armenia‘s tourist industry,” Apresyan said.

The report ranks Armenia 5th in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Among the 130 countries Russia ranks 64th, Georgia 72nd, Ukraine 77th and Azerbaijan 79th .

Among the positive aspects of Armenia‘s tourist industry are hygiene and sanitary conditions, tourists’ security, price competition, good attitude to tourists.

Among the shortcomings are the visa regime with the countries Armenia has the largest number of tourists from, environmental problems, transport infrastructure, hotels, personnel retraining.

Medieval Armenian Cemetery in Noradus, Armenia

The continuous destruction of Armenian cemeteries in Nor Jugha, Nakhijevan, Azerbaijan, Baku (Christian cemetery), Azerbaijan and the recent speculations about the possibility of demolition of the Armenian cemetery in Tbilisy, Georgia, got my mind wondering – when we, bloggers make all this frustrated posts and complain about the destruction of cemeteries – do we really care about them, or is just another newsworthy event?

Yesterday, on a trip to Vardenis from Yerevan, a friend pointed at the village of Noradus on the road, saying – there’s an interesting Armenian cemetery there. So went. Frankly, I didn’t expect it to be that(!) interesting, and I strongly urge you to visit, if you ever pass by those areas, especially if you’re a blogger consistently complaining about the demolition of Armenian cemeteries and destruction of khachkars.

Continue reading “Medieval Armenian Cemetery in Noradus, Armenia”

450,000 Tourists To Visit Armenia by Late 2007

YEREVAN, July 23. /ARKA/. 450,000 tourists are expected to visit Armenia by late 2007, and this will guarantee 20% growth in the sphere. According to Mekhak Apresian, Head of the Tourism Department, RA Ministry of Trade and Economic Development, a 25% increase in the average annual number of tourists’ visits has been recorded since 2001. Particularly, in 2005, 318,000 tourists visited Armenia against 381,000 in 2006.
Looking for something more interesting then figures for Armenian tourism sector, I found this article on the “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” Newspaper, about the newly opened Windsurfing club in Sevan, which was opened by RA President Robert Kocharian himself, no wonder it got into the “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” Newspaper 😉
The main building of the club can host 50 people, while 60 are already learning windsurfing in the newly opened club free of charge. I would question why would Hayastan All-Armenian Fund spend 257 million drams on something so silly as windsurfing, and why would the state budget pay for the maintenance fees for the club: these are all details which “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” Newspaper is gladly informing us about, without asking these questions which literally jump into ones face.
But then again – I really like the idea of windsurfing on Sevan, so this time I will just shut up and say, hmm, it’s not such a bad idea after all!

2007 Quality of Life Index: Armenia 84th, Georgia 84th, Azerbaijan 130

Via Sticky Artz I came across the The Quality of Life Index 2007 by according to which the following 10 countries are the best places to live in considering Cost of Living, Leisure & Culture, Economy, Environment, Freedom, Health, Infrastructure, Risk & Safety, Climate indicators. Continue reading “2007 Quality of Life Index: Armenia 84th, Georgia 84th, Azerbaijan 130”

Fighting Traffic Congestion with More Congestion

Following the post on Notes From Hairenik about the construction works on several most congested roads of Yerevan, and reading an as usual “angry”-critical article in A1plus about the effects of such construction, I decided to find out what is really going on. The first thing that came to mind was – to see if the Yeravan municipality has a website, and then, see if they have any report on that. Needless to say, that I was sure, that either Yerevan municipality has no website, or there is no mention of the construction works.
But – surprise, surprise!!! The very first thing I tried was to type in the browser address bar and !Heavens! – it turned out to be the Yerevan municipality website… and which is more – it does have an official press release about the construction works. Now, is this cool or what? I’m happy for you – Yerevan, we’re officially out of Stone Age!
The website is poorly designed, English version doesn’t work, but all the same – it exists and is updated, and… here are extracts from the official press release about the road construction (taken from the website and translated as fast and best as I could):

At the moment construction works have started in the following sections of the city… To ensure safe passage of pedestrians a 56 meter long and 15 meter wide underground passage is being built on the crossroad of Nalbandyan, Isahakyan and Alek Manukyan streets. Transport passage has been stopped in this section to complete the works in time.

The other underground passage which will be 34 meters long and 17 meters wide, is under construction on the junction of Vardanants – Khanjyan streets. As a result one way traffic for automobiles has been organized in this section on the left side of Khanjyan street. One way traffic will be organized also from the Sayat-Nova avenue side of the Tumanyan street to the round-shaped park. A temporary road will function here until the underground works are completed.

Construction works are in progress also on the Khanjyan – Agatangeghos streets and Tigran Mets avenue crossroad. Considering the exceptional levels of congestion in this crossroad a multifunctional underground tunnel-passage is being built here. At the moment one-sided traffic is set up on the section across the “Ayrarat” cinema theatere. One way traffic will also be organized on the section leading from Agatangeghos street to Khanjyan street. As traffic in this section is super-congested, works will be implemented here section by section, in order to not block transportation passage completely.

This is all very good, but for the fact, that the anti-congestion efforts of the municipality have resulted in even more congestion. So now we know what’s going on, but will we be able to survive it all?  Considering the state Komitas is in after two years of ongoing construction works I’m a bit skeptical. I guess we will have to wait about 2 years and see…

The Color of the Cranes

For several years now, Yerevan, my absolutely most favorite city on earth, has turned into a big construction ground. While the government reports growth in the tourism sector year over year, I can’t help but wonder – what do all those tourists come here for, there’s not much to see except the construction grounds!?
OK, my guess is – the cranes. You can see them all over the city, different colors, sizes and shapes. Well – why not? I find them… ahem, quite charming at times, don’t you? 🙂

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