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Taking the Metro in Yerevan

If you’re a veteran subway system user you probably won’t have any issues getting around on the Metro in Yerevan. It’s a lot like the ones in other former Soviet

Though there are only about a dozen Metro stations in Yerevan, they’re easy to find. Each has blue signs usually labelled in English on one side and countries, so if you’ve mastered those, this system will be a breeze. But for those who haven’t, read on.

what looks like a large flying “V”, marking the location. But barring that, look for the oddest Soviet modern art looking small building around and that may be a station. There aren’t any great maps I’ve found overlaid with the city. But you can print out and carry around something like the Urban Rail map of the Yerevan Metro system which might help you navigate around, especially when you’re on the line. I’ve also created a Google Map of the Yerevan Metro line, embedded below.

Here’s a typical trip on the Metro. Follow the signs and enter the door marked in green. Head over to the small window and buy a token by handing over some money (100 Dram at the time of this writing) and asking for one token – you can just use an upturned index finger. Then walk over and drop the token in the turnstile, walk through and descend on the escalator. It moves fast, so get on and off quickly and carefully. Follow the tunnel on around until you get to the platform.

There are signs on each side indicating the next stops. In many stations the signs are in English, Armenian and Russian, but in some English is omitted. So it helps to know how to pronounce Russian so you can sound out your station and find your way. On the wall of the platform where the train will be heading there is a clock that displays both actual time and the time since the last train left. This is handy, since trains come about every 5 minutes or so.

When the train comes in it will be rattling and clanking loudly. Feel free to put your fingers in your ears, as some of the locals do. Board and you’re quickly on your way. When you’ve reached your stop, disembark, follow the crowd up the escalator and to the exit. You’ve arrived – simple as that!

One Month in Armenia, and Counting

I’ve been in Armenia about a month now and I’ve seen it go from miserable to welcoming. The weather has become very pleasant and with it the people are warming up as well. With the growing grass and budding flowers I find the city growing on me as well.

Yerevan is one of the easiest cities to navigate that there is. Laid out on a grid system with a perimeter encircling it, the city center is a small enough to get across easily by foot in a half hour. And taxis in Yerevan are plentiful and insanely cheap – it’s $1.50 minimum, which covers 5km. The Yerevan metro is alright for reaching the outskirts and is about $0.25 per trip.

The cost of living in Yerevan for other things is also quite low. There’s a market with fresh foods open every day, where you can get anything and everything and very cheap. Chain grocery store prices range from modest to outrageously expensive, depending on what you’re buying. But they also carry other necessities like toilet paper and Starbucks coffee.

The expat community here seems to be just the right size. It’s not massive like in many capitals, but it’s large enough to sustain many different groups of people who get together often. That’s nice because it means there’s usually something going on. Just about everybody knows each other or knows of them, and they’re all very receptive to new people, whether here to live or just passing through.

What’s not to like? Well I do have a few gripes.

Seems like people are hit-and-miss about ripoffs. I’ve got to review every bill to make sure somebody hasn’t added extra stuff or overcharged for things. Like the double espresso that was marked up as a double-double expresso. And the random things added to the bill every so often. Also I have been quoted prices in dollars, then they use a way low conversion rate. So I always have to confirm those prices in Dram before I agree. And sometimes when you go to pay, if you don’t have exact change they will just raise the cost. Sometimes they say it’s because they don’t have change, but sometimes they don’t try to make any excuses.

And certain things seem to be decades behind. Like smoking. Smoking is allowed just about everywhere – restaurants, bars, offices, public spaces, etc. The decor dates from between 1960-2000. It’s actually hard to find stores that sell modern looking things. The metro, even though it was built in the early 1980s seems to date from the late 1950s. Maybe the equipment was hand-me-downs from other Soviet countries. And the busses are also old and belch black smoke.

But all-in-all that’s not much to complain about. It’s a good place to be and I’m really enjoying it!