Saturday, January 23, 2016

Keeping Up with the Armenians

26-30 December 2015

Roomie and I with the Armenian oldies in Tavush Province
I was all over Armenia for 4 nights and 5 days, and I am telling you that if Armenia (the country)  is beautiful, Armenians (the people) are more! 

I could say a lot about the country's scenic views and post a lot of those touristy places (though I already did, check my Instagram) here but I prefer to talk about my travel experience.

Armenians are beautiful people inside out, in every sense of the word. Very friendly, very warm, very accommodating, very hospitable and I could go on and on how beautiful Armenia and its people are.

I never had a single bad experience during my 5 days stay. Even if they cannot communicate with you in English, they will do all their best to help you out.

Let's start with our private driver who had taken us around Armenia. He served as our tour guide cum interpreter also. He was very helpful, he suggested where and what to eat. If the toilet in some certain place is okay to use or not, he would find us a better toilet. And he never took advantage of us. He was even the one who bought us coffee every time we stopped by at petrol station.
I have observed that in Armenia, whenever they are refilling fuel/gasoline/petrol, it is a must to switch off the engine and driver/passengers should leave the car till refueling is done. This should be done all over the world because it never happened in the UAE or in the Philippines.
First night in Yerevan, we asked our hostel reception where can we eat local food. He suggested a resto which I forgot the name because it is in Armenian language and shown us how to go there. In some point we got lost so we approached a woman walking a big ass dog about the resto showing her the paper where the name of the resto was written. She could understand us but she seemed uncertain and couldn't explain it in English so she just pointed us this and that. We resumed walking till Roomie  turned left. To my surprise someone tapped me on my shoulder when I looked back it was the woman with a dog, she was pointing at the other direction and she didn't stop tapping my shoulder till I called Roomie. So again we proceeded to the right, and finally we saw the resto. When we were about to enter the resto, I got surprised again, the woman with a dog was behind me. I was very touched because she took time to make sure we reached the right place.
If you are planning to stay in a hostel in Yerevan, I recommend Envoy Hostel and Tours, Yerevan. You won't have a problem speaking to them because the hostel reception people - all of them -  speak English and they have a nice tour package. They even arranged the best private car/driver to pick us up from Tbilisi to Yerevan whom we ended up requesting the same car/driver to take us around during our stay in Armenia. So if you gonna book your stay in Envoy Yerevan and you want a private car/driver, request for Mr Mosh. Having him is like hitting a jackpot - you have a driver, you have a guide, you have an interpreter and you have a friend.
And another night, we went inside a place where we thought was Starbucks (because the logo was there). Turned out it was a resto not the Starbucks, so I went out again to check whether there is a next door where Starbucks is located. I called Roomie to come out and told her that's the only door and no Starbucks. Some local guys were passing by and one of them heard me and said "Sorry, there is no Starbucks in Armenia. The closest Starbucks here is probably in Georgia." Hah! We found out that they are only authorized to serve Starbucks coffee that's why the logo is there.

Then one night again we were searching for a nice resto for dinner so we were crossing streets a lot, checking out resto menus. Some local guys approached us and asked us if they could help us because he noticed us kept crossing the streets as if we were lost or looking for something. So we told him we were searching a place to eat and then he asked us what type of food we want and suggested us places and gave us directions.

The staff of the cafe (Carpe Diem) next to Envoy Hostel where we had our breakfast once were very friendly. We were amazed by the setup of the cafe - they have the old rotary phone, gramophone and old fashioned wood burning stove. They even demonstrated to us how the old fashioned wood burning stove works and invited us to hang out with them after cafe's closing time as they and their friends hang out there, drink and play music. Too bad it was our last night there in Yerevan and we have had to pack and get ready to go back to Tbilisi.

With beautiful Armenian teeners in Yerevan
In every place we visited in Armenia, all the people were nice and friendly. I felt very safe there esp when we go out at night in Yerevan to hunt for food, I didn't feel I was in a foreign place. A simple Parev (Hello!) to them will make them smile and soften them more. Great people! Oh and their food - very tasty, served in big servings and very affordable.
I have observed that if you are lost, need some direction and want someone who speaks English, try asking the young blood/kids/teenagers. Well, you can approach any locals there because even if they don't speak English, they will still show you the way.