Friends and family recently traveled to Armenia and reported back about their experience.
Traveling Is Restarting
Regardless of what the media says, travel has restarted. It’s not without changes, of course. Travelers are a little more inclined to purchase travel insurance. There are mask requirements, social distancing, new forms, and plenty of tests to take, but travel is making its comeback.
Armenia is not locked down. It requires a negative COVID-19 test upon entry and failing to supply a negative test result means a traveler must self-isolate and quarantine until they provide a negative test or two weeks.
Armenia is Lovely
Armenia is one of the more than 130 countries Matthew has visited. It’s on my family’s list but we haven’t made it there yet. The country has an amazing history dating back thousands of years. It was the first country to adopt Christianity, is home to the Geghard monastery and Khor Virap monastery on Mount Ararat, and the massive high-altitude Lake Sevan. Dilijan national park is home to famous mineral water resorts (see this hiking guide from Lonely Planet.)
Its rich history still involves disputed territories like Nagorno Karabakh (officially Azerbaijan) and is surrounded by land borders with other caucus and middle-Eastern states. With neighbors like Turkey, Iran, and Georgia, Armenia has a unique location in the world that is a part middle Eastern, and part European.
A friend and a family member flew to Armenia late last week, and have reported back that Yerevan reminded them of the pre-COVID Paris neighborhood, Saint Germain. They found it to be like traveling back in time to 2019. Outdoor cafes were full of people, shops and hotels are open and life is proceeding as though COVID-19 never happened.
For the truly well-heeled, here’s a three-floor home without outdoor space for $146/night.
It’s no wonder that world nomads have chosen to visit Armenia with reliable public transportation on cable cars, convenient flights from around the world, and even some European discount carriers.
Zvartnots International Airport in Yerevan hosts RyanAir to Berlin, Rome, Bergamo, and Thessaloniki; Wizz Air flies to Abu Dhabi, Lanarca, and Vienna. My contacts flew Air France from Paris but commented that all of the alliances have routes to complete a trip to Armenia from anywhere.
They commented on the local charm from area markets. In one of the photos below a fruit lavosh can be seen the size of an area rug. This giant (simplified) fruit roll-up cost 2,000 dram (about $3.50.)
Why Yerevan, Armenia?
They chose Yerevan for business reasons, one of them had a meeting in the area. But many comments were made that they may want to stay indefinitely. They love the European feel of the city with a cafe culture and fine dining, while maintaining the feel of a smaller city off the beaten path akin to Bratislava.
The incredible history, beautiful scenery, and amazing prices were further draws to this historic country. Monuments, grand boulevards, and friendly people added to their experience.
They also loved that it felt so normal. It was good to be around people again, to feel like things were ok, that the sky wasn’t falling around them.
As travel restarts for the rest of the world, maybe it’s time to see some of those places that haven’t been on the top of the list but should be. Yerevan, Armenia fits that bill.
What do you think? Will you head to Armenia?