Sunday, March 18, 2012

Armenia: Yerevan and Thereabouts

Yerevan, Armenia

Kathy and I spent a day walking about Yerevan. It was chilly, but sunny for the most part.

Cascade detail, Yerevan, Armenia

 In comparing Yerevan with Tbilisi:

  • Tbilisi is prettier than Yerevan. 
  • Where Tbilisi can feel a little closed-in, Yerevan feels open and airy. 
  • Tbilisi is hilly. Yerevan is flat. 
  • Yerevan: Good customer service. Tbilisi: Very uneven. 
  • Tbilisi pavements: Treacherous. Yerevan pavements: Generally in good condition. 
  • Tbilisi dogs: Can be a problem, but mostly stay out of your way. Yerevan dogs: Packs seem more prevalent, and I saw some canine-to-human confrontations. 
  • Both cities have lots of statues. Tbilisi's tend toward the classical; Yerevan's sculptural art is more diverse.
  • Lovely parks and pedestrian walkways in Tbilisi. Yerevan's parks are a little scrubby. 
  • Vehicle traffic pays more respect to pedestrians in Yerevan than Tbilisi. 
  • More international variety in Yerevan's cafe scene than Tbilisi's. 

 Kathy and I had lunch at a Mexican restaurant. We liked the cool floor. 

We stopped in the Chocolateria near the Cascade:

Yerevan, Armenia. Chocolate.

Yerevan, Armenia. Chocolate. In the raw.

We worked our way up the Cascade, stopping every once in awhile to take in the changing perspectives as we climbed higher.

Yerevan, Armenia. The Cascade.

Yerevan, Armenia. The Cascade.

Yerevan, Armenia. The Cascade.

This was our room at the Center Hostel:

Center Hostel, Yerevan, Armenia

Center Hostel is in a good location, close to Republic Square. I'm not crazy about its being on the 4th floor, but Suzanne, the hostess, provides a heart to the hostel that makes guests feel they are at home. There's an eat-in kitchen, a cozy living room, free wifi, sunny rooms, and two good bathrooms with hot showers.

I liked what I saw of Envoy Hostel also, with its commodious community room that is on a separate floor from the sleeping rooms, the modern kitchen, friendly and professional staff, and good location. If I were to ding the Envoy at all, it'd be that the sleeping rooms are a little rabbit-warrenish. For example, in one area, there are three small, linked rooms that require inter-room traffic to get in and out. On the other hand, I loved that each bunk had its own tiny set of shelves. Each bunk room also had generous-sized lockers.

Envoy Hostel community room, Yerevan, Armenia

The Envoy Hostel has nailed customer service beautifully. It offers a daily, 2.5 hour walking tour of Yerevan - and anyone can come, regardless of where you're spending the night. Gevorg, one of the Envoy's staff members, was on our marshrutka from Tbilisi to Yerevan. He facilitated our way through customs and helped us get a taxi to the Center Hostel, letting us know what to pay and ensuring the taxi driver knew our destination.

The Envoy Hostel is opening a branch in Tbilisi. I imagine it will set a new standard for hostels in Georgia in regard to customer service and comfort. I also like that it will have a walking tour of Tbilisi, plus offer one-day tours within Georgia as it does in Armenia.    

No comments: