Yerevan Stories and Tips

An Aairport a-Changing and Changing their Visa Prices Too!

Whilst I imagine that most peoples visits to Zvarnots International Airport in Yerevan are uneventful are straight forward, this wasn't the case for me! Having arrived from Sharjah, UAE after very little sleep for about 40 hours - I was initially surprised to see that the terminals looked rather new (the airport underwent renovation recently), not only that but the Armenians were all fairly orderly and didn't seem to pushing and shoving to get in to the queue, the norm in ex-USSR countries in my experience.

I headed to the visa section which was quite quiet and began filling in my immigration card, the Armenian visa is usually 30 dollars but at the airport it is 50 dollars and this stumped me, I had only about 40 dollars on me, so the woman behind the counter organised a policeman to escort me through customs to the bank machine on the other side, much to the confusion of the other police officers there. Things didn't get much better as the bank card didn't work and I was left searching for plans and tried to ask for the transit visa which would last for 3 days and do me fine - to get a transit visa though, it is necessary to have your onward flight ticket. I did have that but it was in my main luggage which of course was on the other side of customs, so back to the police office - asked a few questions, sent through another metal detector, few jokes with the police offers and back to the luggage carousel which of course is empty now due to everyone being long gone.

We then hunt for my luggage which had been moved out by my new found friend that I had made at Sharjah and who was waiting to give me a lift to the center - eventually after finding him, he storms back to the visa place and just hands them 50 dollars for the visa and away we go!

I have to say that everyone, police included were really pretty nice albeit very confused and my mish mash of Russian and hand gestures with a little help from the woman at the tourist information desk wasn't really helping!

Leaving wasn't much better as I was skint by this time and the bank card still wasn't working, I'd tried my bank card for the last 2 days before my flight to no success. The airport was about 20km from the part of Yerevan, I was staying in and my flight was at 5.30Am, so i figured with no money on me if I left at midnight, I'd get there in time - someone had told me of a 10,000 dram (30 dollars) departure tax to be paid at the airport before you can get your boarding card- exactly 10,000 dram I didn't have, so I figured that I would just try to talk my way through customs. No other options really!

So off I start walking, across the bridge and along a pavement next to a rather quiet unlit two-lane highway, after being ferociously attacked by a really pissed off savage dog which changed his mind when I swung my backpack at him. After about 10km and at 1.30am, a guy in a lada gave me a lift to the airport.

The airport is the craziest shape, a circular alien looking building with heaters blowing furiously but not particularly warm air just above every seat. Despite pleaing with the woman at the office, she didn't seem to believe me and said it was against the rules and I wouldn't be able to fly - so away I went to try the bank card one more time and amazingly it worked and I managed to get out exactly 10,000 dram! Off to border control, have both index fingers pressed into a little electronic machine (same on the way in) and into an unbelievably modern terminal - an empty one with some plasma screen tvs, duty free - I was even able to use wireless free there, very impressive indeed.

It's really quite a nice airport but you have to be aware of the inflated visa price for arriving by air and also the departure tax.

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