Yerevan

We had a ‘boys’ trip’ to Yerevan in June.

The general idea was to find somewhere we could get to easily and cheaply – after Baku was struck off the list, Yerevan was decided on.

I had no idea what to expect – post-Soviet misery, or something a bit brighter that was tourist friendly? Fortunately it was the latter.

A house was booked at about 600Dhs each for the seven of us for five nights (five nights being the minimum, even though we only stayed for four). We were met at the airport by the holiday company who owned the house and taken to our palace, a multicoloured, bizarrely decorated place that more than served its purpose. My next apartment will definitely have showers with built in radios and disco lights.

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We had a great holiday – Yerevan town centre is well laid out and completely safe, with lots of cafes and bars. There’s plenty of late night entertainment too. We found a place run by two brothers who had grown up in Dubai – ‘That Place’, under a car park in the centre of town is highly recommended as a basic but fun venue to go to.

I’d also recommend ‘Tomas’ Smokey Ribs’. We ended up there thanks to a leaflet we’d picked up along the way – and were even lucky enough to meet Tomas himself.

‘Welcome to Tomas’ Smokey Ribs’.

‘Thanks – what’s your name?’.

‘Tomas’.

At Tomas’s we met Hovik, who promised to show us around. A day or two later he took us to Lake Sevan, about an hour out of town, past the delights of various casinos and ‘sauna motels’ along the way. We even got to see the traditional ‘bribing of the traffic policeman’ after he was stopped for speeding.

Lake Sevan has some great restaurants that serve freshly caught fish along with other Armenian delights. I don’t recommend the Tarragon based fizzy drinks though.

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Hovik holds forth after lunch. And lots of toasts.

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One top tip if you are going to Yerevan – although you can get a visa on arrival if you hold a British passport, you do need a full page.

Duncan, who had organised the whole trip, didn’t have a page free, so had sent his passport off to be renewed three weeks or so before we were due to leave. Sadly, due to the total farce that is renewing your British passport if you live in Dubai, it turned out that it would take eight weeks for it to to be sent to Dusseldorf to be printed (something that previously used to be done in the consulate itself). He had it sent back and decided to risk things at the airport at Yerevan, but even though he had a half page free, the powers that be wouldn’t let him in and he was sent back on the same plane he had arrived in an hour previously.

Duncan has a famous shirt, known as the ‘bib shirt’, for obvious reasons, as you can see below, so we decided to enjoy the trip as much as possible with him there in spirit.

I would recommend Yerevan for a short holiday – we had a great time and I’d happily go there with Mrs Saul. Everyone we met seemed astonished that we were there at all – ‘why are you in Yerevan?!’ was a frequent question. I expect that with Fly Dubai going there fairly regularly, the locals will get used to seeing more and more tourists over the coming months. The city deserves it.

Duncan refreshes himself with an Armenian beverage.

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Lawrence and Chris share a joke with Duncan.

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Duncan refreshes himself with the local tipple.

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Lawrence and Duncan decide whether to swim in the ice cold pool.

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Whilst Duncan relaxes with some music, Lawrence tempts him with a sip of the awful ‘extra bitter’ version of Armenian lager.

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Duncan chats with Kelvin and Matt about the day’s tourist trail.

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