Armenia – Day1 [08.12.2016]

Going to Armenia

I flew to Yerevan, Armenia with Flydubai and I took off at 2:50 am from Terminal 2, Dubai international airport. I booked it one month prior, in November and the fare was AED 830. Since Flydubai is LCC, they usually require to pay for check-in baggage but 20kg of check-in baggage was inclusive in case of the flight to Yerevan at that time. The flight duration was approx. 3 hours and I landed at Zvartnots International Airport at 5:50 am. There is no time difference between UAE and Armenia.

Arriving at Zvartnots International Airport

I, citizen of Japan was required to get a visa on arrival. Once arrived, I changed USD 20 for visa fee at the exchange which was located just next to visa counter as they only accept local currency by cash for visa fee. There was long ques for currency exchange and visa and I took almost one hour to pass through immigration. Single entry visa for 21 days was AMD 3,000 (USD 6). 

At the immigration, the officer found Azerbaijan visa in my passport. Then, he took me to small room. He asked me about my trip to Armenia like the purpose of visit here, where to stay, afterwards, he also asked me the purpose of visit to Azerbaijan. He took a photo copy of my passport and visa. It just took 10 minutes and I wasn’t scared since I knew this could happen and have had this kind of experience in Qatar. I’ve visited Armenia after Azerbaijan because I need to consider the order to visit these countries. I’ve heard that it would be difficult to enter Azerbaijan if I’ve visa of Armenia since Armenia and Azerbaijan are neighbours but they don’t have diplomatic relations. 

Beginning of Armenia tour

Once I reached arrival area, it was already around 7:30 am I met my driver. I arranged all transportation including airport transfer with Hyur Service which my friend advised me. I decided to have private tour since I was travelling alone and I could not join in group tour due to off-season before Christmas. So, I contacted the company via their website and informed what I want: tour, driver, airport transfer and places where I want to visit. Then, they gave me a quotation, AMD 129,600 (USD 270) for entire journey. Also I withdrew AMN 160,000 (AED 1,239.56) with my debit card at ATM there. 

First, I headed to Noravank monastery.

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Mt. Ararat

We drove for nearly 2 hours and stopped by small shop beside the road near Noravank Monastery. I had sandwich for my breakfast with home-made wine which the lady gave me for tasting.

After a short break, I reached Noravank Monastery around 10 am. It was very cold outside that the temperature was -2 degrees Celsius but it was beautiful sunny day. 

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Noravank Monastery

Then, we drove for approx. 1.5 hours and visited Khor Virap monastery. The combination view of monastery and Mt. Ararat was amazing and this is the reason I wanted to visit this place.

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Khor Virap Monastery

We drove back for one hour and stopped by Echmiadzin which is a place like Vatican for the Armenians. There are many churches in Echmiadzin such as St. Gayane Church, Mother Cathedral, St. Hripsime Church. 

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Mother Cathedral
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St. Gayane Church
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St. Hripsime Church

The admission for all the churches are free but if you want to visit the museum in Mother Cathedral displays lance of Longius, a fragment of Noah’s Ark, etc., you need to buy a ticket (AMD 1,500 = USD 3) in the building which is just opposite side of the Cathedral.

After that, I drove for 15 minutes from Echimiadzin, I visited Zvartnots.

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Zvartnots

I finished all sightseeing in Day1 and drove to Yerevan for half an hour. I arrived at my hotel around 3 p.m. I booked 3 nights including breakfast at Paris Hotel Yerevan at AMD 105,800 (AED 829.55). The hotel was located in city centre and walking distance to everywhere. 

After check-in, I went out to explore the city. It was before Christmas so that there was a small Christmas market on Northern Ave.

I walked around for an hour and came back to hotel.