Greetings from Armenia!
On Monday I slept really late, thanks to blog update which took quite much time.
Started my sightseeing tour after midday, but before this, I had quick lunch at McDonalds. Wanted also to try Tbilisi subway (was so hot day, that I wanted to avoid walking)…
Subway was really easy, fast and convinient. If temperature would have been lower, I would have walked to the Freedom Square.
I did not had map, but it was not a big problem, because landmarks are so clear in Tbilisi. Walked around old town, climbed up to the hill, used cable car to get down and crossed The Bridge of Peace.
Old town has a lot of nice small restaurants and shops. I cooled down in one of them by having a cold beer and just looking people who were passing the terrace.
After refreshement I wanted to find famous bath area, but could not find it. Did not see any signs pointing to that direction…
Decided to skip it and get back to the hostel, because weather was so darn hot and I did not want to stay out in the sun any longer.
Biggest issue for tourist like me in Tbilisi was lack of signs. I tried to find bookstore to buy local map, but could not find any (maybe I did not search hard enough). Tourist information center should be somewhere in Freedom Square, but did not find it either.
Hopefully these things are soon fixed in Tbilisi, so that it would be easier for tourists to find different attractions.
At hostel I enjoyed my freedom and took a small nap in the middle of the day 🙂 Do not remember when was the last time I had nap in the middle of the Monday 🙂
I had agreed to meet fellow rider at 19:00 somewhere in Freedom Square.
Spent evening with Neil from UK chatting about travelling. Neil was nice guy and on his way to somewhere in asia (recent changes in China entry policy is really screwing plans for many travellers, not good!).
Tuesday morning come too fast, so needed to pack all the stuff from the room. I guess couple in the next room were from Germany, they were on their way to Beijing. Their travelling method was to use busses and trains! Brave!
Morning was already hot when I packed the bike. Felt so good to get back on top of the bike and let the airflow cool me down 🙂
After roughly 50km I was already at the border. Georgian border was once again really easy and fast!
I had a bit fear about Armenian border, because I had read that border crossing might be a bit tricky… Luckily there was no-one else on the border at that time, so guy with the army uniform took my passport and gave it to another guy inside nearby booth. I followed my passport and gave also bike papers to the same guy.
Officer behind the window did not smile and did not talk too much, but he did his job fast. Whole process at Armenian border took less than 5 minutes! I was really, really surprised because I had prepared myself to stay there even few hours!
Next thing was to find a place to buy insurance (greencard is not valid in Armenia). I do not know how many companies are trying to sell insurances at the border, but there were many… I just picked first company and got my insurance, cost was roughly 10€ for one month.
I do not have slightest clue if these insurances are any good if something happens, but at least I had now something to show to the police (if needed).
First impressions from Armenia were: Roads are in better shape than expected; looks poorer compared to Georgia; people are also really polite in Armenia (as all countries that I have now visited). If I would have waved to every person who waved to me, I think I would have not touched handlebar too often 🙂
Checked one Unesco site, Sanahin Monastery. Wanted to visit also another monastery, Haghpat Monastery, but did not see any signs leading there (most probably I just missed the signs and need to check on my way back to Georgia if I can spot them then).
Stomache started to remind me to eat something, so stopped to one roadside restaurant. I was planning to eat something light, like soup, but ended up with two salads, soup, bread and kebab 🙂 Food was excellent and now I could forget dinner 🙂
Close to Sevan I had to make decision if I would follow Lake Sevan or head straight to Yerevan.
Air was nice and cool at 1900m above sealevel, so decision was to go around the lake. Idea was to spend 2 nights somewhere around the lake.
Northern side of the lake has lot of beach resorts (small), so passed them quickly. Finding a camping spot from the west side was quite hard because there were so many villages and I did not want to camp close to the them. Sun was starting to get down when I saw one place which looked a bit like camping area. Well, it was not, just a place for people to hang around next to the lake. There were some people still, but decided to camp there. Soon after I found camping spot, there was one young family next to the bike asking if they can take photos. Of course it was ok for me, father´s face was worth seeing when he sat on top of the bike and his wife took a photo 🙂
Evening was a bit chilly, which was nice change after boiling hot weather in Tbilisi.
On Wednesday morning I noticed that I had many friends inside my tent. Small ants everywhere! I must have pitched my tent on top of their nest… Luckily these were not agressive ones and did not bite me, but I still decided to kill them all…
Took me quite much time to clean the tent and all my clothes, they were even inside my riding socks! Poor things, must have gone in to a panic after entering in to my sock and did not find a way out 😉
Road surface got worse in the south- and east side of the lake. Pavement had huge holes in it and due to this there was several tracks next to the road.
I liked east side of the lake because hills were rising from the lake and there was only few villages.
If you want to camp here, camp on the east side. It will be easy to find a nice spot there.
Got around the lake so fast that I decided to continue day ride to Yerevan.
For some reason I got stopped by police immediately when I turned to a bigger road!
Police just talked me in armenian and/or russian. I asked if they speak any english, but it did not had any effect.
I told them that I am finnish and started to take my gloves off, then police just asked “Finnish?”, nodded my head and then they just waved me to continue. I do not have any idea what was the reason for this stop, I did not ride fast or passed anyone, so maybe they just wanted to check who I am.
Absolutely gorgeous scenery was waiting me when I approached Yerevan. City was in front of me, but what really catched my eye was snow topped Mount Ararat. What a beautifull scenery and how big contrast! Yerevan had temperature close to 40C and at the same time I could admire snow peak of Ararat 🙂
I did not know what to expect from Yerevan, but I was still surprised how clean and modern city it is. Traffic is really good, so no problems with the bike. I quickly found central square and then hotel which was only around 100m away from the square.
After settling in I decided to go and check how this city looks like. Walked around and realized that this city looks same as any other big city. Even people dress the same way as in other big cities, so nothing “exotic” here.
I am not a big city person, so cannot find anything to photograph in these cities which are copies of eachothers…
Yerevan felt safe and traffic is good, no problems at all for getting around.
One difference I noticed between Tbilisi and Yerevan, for me it looks like people in Yerevan are happier, at least they are smiling more compared to Tbilisi (just my opinion which is based for really short time in a city).
Yerevan central square has similar “dancing fountain” as in Las Vegas, not as big, but still nice. Seems like there is show around eight or nine in the evening.
On Thursday morning I decided to relax and stay one more day in Yerevan. Later the day I thanked my decision, because seems like I got my first travel stomache 😉 I guess I got it from pizza on the previous evening.
Nothing special happened on Thursday, went for a ride around the town and realized that I am only biker in whole Armenia! At least I had not seen any other bikes anywhere and seemed like people were staring at me anywhere I went… Maybe I looked like an alien?