Dubai Summer!

Dubai Summer is here!

Dubai has become the summer capital of the Middle East. Lots of tourist flock all year round for the beautiful sun and plenty of activities not only people from the region but also from all over the world.

There’s been lots of improvements in the beaches of Dubai as well. From the Jumeirah Beach Residences stretching down through the Jumeirah Beach Road to the 2nd of December Flag.

The 20+ km stretch of Dubai Beaches

The 20+ km stretch of Dubai Beaches

New parks, recreational sports areas, malls and a whole lot of restaurants. To name a few, you have;

The JBR Beach
Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina
Nasimi Beach
The Burj Al Arab Beach
Sunset Beach
The Kite Beach
Jumeirah Beach Park
Jumeirah Open Beach

A  Weekend brunch at Barasti Beach Bar, Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Al Sufouh Road، Jumeirah Beach

A  Weekend brunch at Barasti Beach Bar, Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Al Sufouh Road، Jumeirah Beach

Everybody loves summer, the sun, the beach, playing sports but not at 52.1’C?!

It may not be a surprise to everyone but June to August are the hottest months in this part of the region.

Currently at highs of 43’C, did you know that the hottest recorded in Dubai, United Arab Emirates was at 52.1’C in 2002? Yes! As compared to the the highest recorded in the World as per Guinness Book of World Records is at 56.7 degrees Celsius

For all outdoor lovers, be sure to have proper protection before playing or be just soaking under the sun. If possible, limit exposing yourself between 10AM to 3PM when the Sun rays are strongest.

Must haves;

Sun screen
A pair of sun glasses
Umbrella
Hats
Lots of water
Watery fruits (Watermelon shake anyone?) 

These are just basic stuff but be sure you don’t miss having them and you are ready to have lots of  safe fun under the Dubai Sun!

Happy Summer!


Two Nomad’s Review: Chicken Tikka Inn – The Quest for the Best Chicken Tikka in Town

CHICKEN TIKKA

Hello nomads! How’s the weather treating you the past days? sweaty pits and cloudy glasses, no one can escape, we can definitely relate to that! But that doesn’t mean we can’t go for some spice treat anymore ayt? Last night we had scoured the depths of Mirdif Area to look for a forgotten restaurant Adrian had come across 5 years back. He recalls his nostalgia upon having to dine at this restaurant where he claims as having one of the best Chicken Tikkas in Dubai. We had found the place after walking inside an alley way tucked discreetly behind the Masjid along 15th street in Mirdif.

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unsuspecting walkways
There goes the saying, “Do not judge the book if you’re not a book” or something like that. 😛

 

 

 

 

We settled ourselves inside taking comfort from the beating Dubai humidity. The sole counter guy greeted us warmly as if we were regular customers from around the area which is notable for me. Now, for the real deal, DO NOT expect a 5 star treatment here. We know Dubai has a penchant for amazing customer service but it is best to keep your standards at minimum besides, we are here for the food and not really the experience. 🙂

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Skimming through the menu. This table napkin inside the glass still confuses me. But I guess the main purpose of the arrangement is to emphasize the ways of contacting the establishment. 

We ordered of course what we had come for, the Chicken Tikka. Adrian also ordered some Karahi mutton as according to him, they also serve a really good one comparable to what we had at Ravi’s in Satwa. And since we were the only customers that time, there was no hassle of waiting for everything we wanted. Imagine three people alternately coming to your table just to check for your needs. Yay!

After few  minutes, our order is ready! we were so hungry that time as we both came from work and we wasted no time indulging on this little feast (Well actually, after taking photos of it for our blog. heh 😛 ).

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Karahi Mutton – AKA Mutton Kadai is a popular Pakistani and North Indian dish noted because of the spices used when cooking it. personally, I do not like mutton recipes but this dish was the first one I have ever come to love! Good job Chicken Tikka Inn! 

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TADAAAAaaa…!  This looks small in pictures but they actually have generous servings of each. This will work for 2 persons. Also, I must say, every dish pairs well with Tandoori roti (bread)

Taste Test: THE VERDICT

The Karahi Mutton – I’ve said it earlier, this amazes me a lot. As I am not a fan of mutton recipes, this made me like the mutton meat instantly. I think it works wonders if you put ginger to ease the strong taste of the mutton meat and neutralizes the flavors into a fiesta of spices. The dish was hot, (no its not that spicy, but it is HOT) it makes you sweat in all places imaginable without wanting to stop eating. I remember blurting out at one point that this dish makes me sweat without burning my tongue. So yes, this is highly recommended.

For the Chicken Tikka: I must agree that this is by far one of the best Chicken Tikka recipes I have tasted! (Sorry, butI still can’t over Punjab at Covent Garden in London) Plus the sauce that comes with it, that green and red sauce definitely works well with the chicken! The chicken meat is marinated with spices that just burst into amazing flavors in your mouth. And i’m not exaggerating here, their Chicken is really something worth checking out.

We paid the bill and the whole meal costed us roughly 50 dirhams (approx. 13 USD) definitely not bad for a generous serving and very palatable taste. Chicken Tikka Inn is well worth the visit despite having to explore unchartered neighborhoods in Mirdif. You’ll get your money’s value and a sweet treat for your taste buds.

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CHICKEN TIKKA INN – MIRDIF

Address: Behind Mirdif Mosque, Near Uptown Mirdif Mall, Mirdif, Dubai

Timings: 12 Noon to 12 Midnight
Cuisine:
Indian, North Indian

Tel: 04-288-7080

MAIN OFFICE

PO Box 5015, Dubai, UAE
Catering Services Inquiries: 050-454-1025

Tel: +971-04-2632463
Fax: +971-04-2635920

Visit: http://www.chickentikkainn.com/
Email: info@chickentikkainn.com

You can check the menu HERE.

They have branches all over Dubai. 🙂


Suhoor Delights at Burj Al Arab

BURJ

” Suhūr (Arabic: سحور‎‎ suḥūr, lit. “of the dawn”, “pre-dawn meal”; also spelled suhoor, sahur, sehri and in Yoruba sãrì) is an Islamic term referring to the meal consumed early in the morning by Muslims before fasting, sawm, before dawn during or outside the Islamic month of Ramadan.

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Photo not ours. Credits to http://azeemazeez.com

To be honest, this Suhoor experience at Burj Al Arab never came to our plans nor have been enlisted in our future plans because if we are to be asked, spending on a meal costing more than 20 USD (70 AED/1000 PHP) is already considered a mortal sin. We put up this blog with aim of encouraging everyone to work on a sustainable life style and living within means so spending so much on one meal isn’t really a good way to advocate that. However, to be fair, this experience could be somehow be an exemption as it this an event organized together with our closest friends here in Dubai which we thought  could be a once in a lifetime experience. I think we could all agree that some luxury isn’t bad once in a while.

Burj Al Arab, part of the Jumeirah chain of luxury hotels, known for having the 7-star hotel reputation all over the world is really a sail shaped 5-star luxury hotel situated in a man-made artificial island located just few meters off the coast of Jumeirah beach in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Its one of the famous icons of Modern Dubai and a symbol of the extravagance and opulence of the Emirate.

(Trivia: The 7-star tag was coined by a British reporter who visited the hotel on a pre-opening press trip. The journalist described Burj al Arab in her article as above and beyond anything she had ever seen and called it a seven-star hotel. Burj Al Arab never used the tag on any of their marketing promotions and is actually not perpetuating its use. )

We made our way just in time to arrive at the pre-scheduled slot for us at 9 PM. We parked our car directly in front of the hotel entrance and the staff was keen to inform us that valet parking is compulsory to every arriving guests at the hotel so we got off and smoothly made our way inside. Upon entering the hotel, you would be greeted by the hotel staff welcoming you warmly with their smiles. At the lobby, you can freely roam around or rest on the couches easily noticeable with its luxurious details and material.

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Adrian making his way to the Hotel Entrance

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Big spread of high quality Irish carpets with Arabic detailing

As we proceed to the dining area, an unintimidating fountain design on the center of the main walk way would definitely catch your attention to appreciate and probably would encourage you to take a picture of (Later on we found out that this is the most photographed area of the hotel). There are also aquarium walls with live fishes situated side by side with the pillars of the going up.

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The fountain with a theme designed for Ramadan

Our reservation was at the Sahn Eddar Restaurant conveniently located just one floor above the main lobby of the hotel. It is a lounge style restaurant perfect for hosting afternoon teas. Although they also serve breakfast, lunch and dinner meals, we thought the place is best suited for the former.

We had the Suhoor menu, which is thoroughly explained by the attendants. Observing everything was a bit of a challenge as there is so much catching up going on as we are with our friends so we really didn’t pay attention to the menu for the night. However, as any other fine dining sequence, you would initially be asked what would you prefer for the appetizer, followed by the main course, and lastly, the dessert. They have presented a couple of dishes mostly middle eastern choices as Suhoor is intended for Muslims who are fasting during the day.

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The appetizers ( Choice of Baklava, Arabic bread, Olives, Cheese, Arabic hummus)

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(Mains: Shawarma with a choice of chicken, beef and lamb served with fries as side dish)

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Literally with a silver spoon on hand about to eat our favorite arabic dessert, Umali

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The dessert tray with fresh fruits and arabic sweets Kanafeh and Umali

To sum up the whole dining experience for us was just fair. It’s not really something that can be described as wow kind of experience, but something we think is just right for the price tag. Personally, we thought that some of the items on the menu was quite a let down considering the stature of the hotel like having regular looking fries on the sides, plain food plating etc. I mean, its Burj Al Arab right? so it’s just acceptable that we expect the highest quality of food and services even if we didn’t order the most expensive item on the menu. But we couldn’t really tell, unless we have tried all of the restaurants inside the hotel. However, to be fair, the whole dining experience itself was already worth the appreciation and admiration.

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Little surprise of the night, Triple birthday treat from Burj staff

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Simple cake with 5  language translations of “Happy birthday”

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The three (pseudo) celebrants

Without our knowing, some of our friends informed the staff that there are people in our group celebrating their birthdays (Actually, none of them are celebrating their birthdays on the day itself but the Burj staff didn’t have any second thoughts about giving the three of them treats) so it happened, three people in our circle of friends (including Adrian), was given a mini cake with a candle to blow! what a way to cap off the night! 🙂

The whole Burj experience was nothing but a memorable one. It was a night intended to celebrate friendship and life as whole. Not everyone get to experience these kind of simple luxury we have so we just have to be thankful that we have the means and of course, the will to experience these things. Are we going to come back soon? definitely NO. Unless we have tons of cash in the bank and got nothing to do with our money, we would be generous enough to spend $24,000 a night (the price of a royal suite at the hotel) to fancy ourselves. But thankfully, we are contented with our life right now and is looking at it on a different perspective.

HELPFUL INFOS:

The Burj al Arab is a private resort, and it’s closed to non-guests. Ways of accessing the Burj vicinity has been updated below.

We experienced the Ramadan offer, which costs 380 AED ($108) per person. Other options differ from the seasons and the restaurant where you will be having your meal/snacks/tea.

Also keep in mind that alcohol is not served during Ramadan, but the experience is barely lessened without its presence.

For the regular menus for the restaurant you can check this link.

SAHN EDDAR RESTAURANT

Restaurant reservations (essential – you need a code to get past security)

Location

First floor, Burj Al Arab

  • Cuisine: International
  • Dress Code: Smart Casual. Gentlemen are required to wear a collared shirt, full-length trousers or elegant jeans and closed shoes (no trainers). Ladies are required to wear a suit or dress, long or short skirt or dressy slack and top. UAE national dress is welcomed
  • Breakfast: Serving from 08:00 to 11:00
    AED 295 per person
  • Afternoon Tea: Served at 13:00, 15:00 and 17:00
    AED 560 per person
  • High Tea: Served at 19:00 and 20:00
    AED 400 per person
  • Beverage Package: Served from 20:00 to 23:00
    AED 290 per person
  • Entertainment: Performing daily: Arabic Band, Solo Harpist and Classical Quartet
  • Family: 0-3 years: Complimentary basis
    4-11 years: 50% discount on buffets, a la carte and set menus (no discount on children’s menu and beverages)
    Above 12 years: Full rate applies
  • Telephone: +971 4 301 7600
  • Email: BAArestaurants@jumeirah.com

HOW TO GET THERE

UPDATED:

There are four ways to get your look inside. First, you can stay at the nearby Jumeirah-owned Beach Hotel for about $250 (check current prices here), and take a free guided tour, book the Dubai guided tour that includes Burj Al Arab experience, make a reservation/payment at the Talise Spa (Burj Al Arab’s In house spa services) or simply book a reservation at one of the restaurants inside the hotel as we mentioned on the blog post above.

BURJ AL ARAB

PO Box 74147, Dubai, UAE
Tel: +971 4 301 7777
Toll-free: Click here
Email: baainfo@jumeirah.com


Destination: Armenia Part 1

It was a Friday morning when we left the warm Dubai weather to hop on our flight to the capital city of Armenia, Yerevan. We had such high expectations as to how Armenia looks like especially the weather! (For anyone who is residing in Dubai, it thrills us whenever we go to a place that is colder than 20’C! that’s a fact!) So we went to the airport 2 hours before the scheduled departure and waited eagerly for our boarding time.

However, just when we thought everything was going well, we suddenly realized the dilemma that is waiting for us at the Airport in Yerevan— we had checked in our wallet with our cards and our cash! We are aware that before you could pass through the immigration gates, if you are entitled to visa-on-arrival, you are required to purchase the visa just before heading to the immigration booth. So the problem we had was how to purchase the visa if our wallet and cards are already checked in and can only be retrieved after the immigration. Adrian, on full panic mode is already starting to loose his temper because of the situation and as for me, I was still trying to compose myself amidst the problem. We started to contact friends to inquire about the visa fees and to re-confirm about the procedures once we arrived there.

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While wandering aimlessly at the airport looking very lost thinking of Plan A, B,C and D. Yes, we’ve all been there. 

 

After few minutes of roaming around the airport suddenly it popped out in my mind that I was keeping another wallet inside my bag that surely has some UAE dirhams on it. It turns out that I have kept another wallet with cash that we used to pay the taxi going to the airport! What a relief! So I checked my wallet and counted the money we can use and we still have 170 dirhams to spend! That’s more than enough for what we need in the airport in Armenia! We immediately headed to the Money exchange station to change our 100 dirhams to USD (It is advised to change your currency to US Dollars before going to Armenia to avoid unnecessary hassle) and went straight to the food court and have our breakfast to re-assure ourselves how lucky we are that day.

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Adrian: Okay take a picture of me going inside the airplane.  Me: *Done*

 

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Inside Flydubai aircraft with the aisle lights matching the blue shade of the airline. 

 

The travel time from Dubai to Armenia took approximately 3 hours and 20 minutes flying over the Iranian airspace. We left Dubai at exactly 12:15 pm. And since we woke up early that day, we dozed off right at the moment the plane took off and woke up just in time for landing at Zvarnots International Airport in Yerevan at around 02:30 pm same time zone with Dubai.

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Coming out from the plane, there are government officials welcoming some diplomats on the same flight as ours. Welcome to the land of Pomegranate!

(Pomegranate has been a symbol of Armenia that signifies happiness and prosperity)

 

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Walking past the arrival area of Zvarnots Airport

 

From the arrival gates, you can easily find the way going to the visa registration centre. By the way for some countries if you need a visa going to Armenia, you can readily apply for an online visa that would set you back at 6 USD for a 21 days visa. ( for more details kindly check it out here.) For us, since we have researched that you can actually apply for a visa-on-arrival once you are in Armenia, we opted for that option since we thought that it will be easier for us. We were wrong.

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Leaving the visa registration section of the airport that is just few steps from the immigration booth. How we describe Armenian Visa registration queue: ANYTHING GOES.

 

Before going to the visa registration booth, we were asked to fill out the visitor arrival forms at a special kiosk near the centre. As for those with E-Visa forms, you can easily go straight to the immigration booths (Imagine the amount of time we could’ve saved if we opted for the E-Visa option). After that I went to the nearby Forex counter to change my US Dollars (27 USD) to Armenian Dram for payment (They only accept Armenian Drams at the counter). We then proceeded to the line heading to the Visa registration where we took ages before we reached the counter because of some Iranian visitors who actually arrived later than us who kept on cutting inside the queue. We tried to tell them off nicely about proper way of falling in line however, it is no avail. We waited for some airport staff to man the situation but no one came to atleast organise the people lining up. Everyone was getting inside the queue lines from various directions without minding other people who are already in line. For a foreigner and first timer in Armenia, we find it quite difficult to bear with how the registration process goes. We are not saying that it is bad experience for us, and we understand that it is not entirely the airport management’s fault, rather, we are acknowledging that there are areas of the airport that needs to be improved especially for visa processing.

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Making my way to the Passport control section of the Airport after waiting for the visa. Someone was quick at snapping forbidden shots. I do not encourage anyone to do this.

 

After an hour and a half of queuing, we finally have our 21 day Armenian visa! (cost: 3000 Armenian Dram/ 6 USD) we headed to the immigration control booth and informed the officer after observing that they do allow 2 people (if you are traveling together) at the same time to be at the immigration counters. You just have to inform the officer nicely of course, that you are together and he/she would happily assist you to be on the counter at the same time! we saved atleast 10 minutes because of that! Not bad at all!

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After ages of waiting, finally, an Armenian Visa!

 

The immigration process was pretty straight forward. After the visa registration, you will just proceed straight to the immigration booth which is situated next to the visa registration centres and voila! from the immigration booth just walk straight past the officer and  after about 10 steps you would need to turn left to pass through the duty free for the exit. You won’t get lost here because the area isn’t that big. Also there are friendly airport officials that are willing to assist you. (And they speak good english!)

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Coming from the immigration booths there is no other way but to pass through this Duty Free store on your way out. 

 

After passing by the immigration and collecting our bags, we then proceeded to the arrival area of the airport where we met our taxi driver for our whole trip, Cmoh. He was the one arranged by the hotel to pick us up from the airport and eventually the one whom we preferred to be our driver for the rest of the journey. Cmoh waited for over an hour and a half outside as we have informed the hotel staff that we will be arriving by 3 pm however the delay at the visa registration came up and we have have been late for our informed expected arrival. But even after waiting that long, Cmoh, unwaveringly kept his smile and welcoming presence all the way through.

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Withdrawing Armenian Drams at the airport because the initial plan of withdrawing money before arriving in Armenia had some twists and turns. As we have noticed, the charge for international banking in Armenia is on par with other European destinations.

 

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exiting from the airport vicinity.

 

We finally made our way going to the hotel which is roughly a 20 minute drive from the airport. We have chosen a location a bit far from the centre so we could be as relax as possible for the first few days.

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Cmoh, our ever friendly driver. He doesn’t speak english but we are able to understand each other during the time we are together. Looking back, we are still amused as to how we are able to do that within our trip without having any word of English and only with only bits of miming and sign language!

 

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First glance of Yerevan. Road going to the city centre. 

 

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Time Travel: We instantly felt like we were warping into some age before technology was a hit. It is of course remembered in a very good way. 

 

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 Laid back vibes. We were oogling at the vintage cars we see as well as the luxury cars we are coming across while driving. 

 

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Armenian Architecture evident on many churches across the country marked by domes, stone vaulted ceilings, mostly made with Tufa stones.

 

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Post soviet influence: Yerevan Trolley Buses (These buses are powered through cable wires attached to them)

 

We arrived at around 7 in the evening at our hotel however the sun is still shining brightly outside so we adjusted a bit with the day light transition. Our hotel has the view of Mt. Ararat on clear day however, that whole time we were there it was very cloudy that we didn’t see the glimpse of the infamous mountain. We booked our hotel (Hotel Caucasus) via booking.com one of our well trusted accommodation websites from the past.

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Cozy lights, royal interior designs (reminds us of our love for Game of Thrones) 

 

We had such a nice time when we were staying at our hotel and we will be having a separate review for that soon. That night, since it’s a bit late for us to go outside and explore (plus the fact that we were too tired traveling), we decided to just relax and have a good night at the hotel. So we have resorted to ordering our super late brunch/Dinner once we had our stuff secured at our room.

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Sampling home made Armenian wine

 

20160527_145834488_iOSArmenian gastronomic indulgence for two. (Trout Fillet with mushrooms and cheese, Egg and tomato with spinach, BBQ pork ribs, Ker ou sous and lavash)

 

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You can literally choose to dine anywhere inside and outside the hotel.

 

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The view outside our room. You can see the city from a different perspective. 

 

We then spent the whole night updating our itineraries for the next few days. Armenia is so perfect for breaking free from the hustle and bustle of the city life and a perfect escape for everyone who wants to just chill and let time go by.

YEREVAN, ARMENIA

Getting here:

Zvartnots International Airport (IATA: EVN) is the main gate to Armenia. In 2006, a new terminal was opened, where most arrivals and departures are now based. It remains a smaller airport however, so navigating your way around is easy and fast. Free Wi-Fi access is available in the departure terminal.

Numerous carriers fly to Yerevan aside from Armavia: AirFrance, Lufthansa, Iran Air, Czech Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Aeroflot and the like. Yerevan is connected to all major European and Middle Eastern cities: London, Paris, Amsterdam, Athens, Moscow, Vienna, Berlin, Prague, St Petersburg, Zurich, Minsk, Riga, Kiev, Istanbul, Dubai, Aleppo, Tehran, Beirut and so on. Air Arabia connects Yerevan to the Gulf states, Egypt and India via Sharjah. Armavia reopened the Route Yerevan – Tbilisi – Yerevan again, with two daily flights.

From the Airport to the City:

Zvartnots is only 14km from Yerevan city centre by road.

  • A public bus N107 is available during the day-time for about USD0.70, which will take you to the Opera House in central Yerevan.
  • A taxi ride from the airport to the city will cost from AMD4,200 (USD10) to the centre, and up to AMD6,700 (USD16) for the most distant parts of the city. Some drivers may try to convince you to pay more, but don’t ever believe them, and telling them you will call the police (who will help you) should straighten out any opportunists. Almost 100% of taxis are using a taxi meter (sheochik), so, the best if you have local currency with you to pay for the trip.

You may want to use taxis that are the official transport of Zvartnots Airport – AeroTaxi so that in case of losing your baggage, you always know where to find it. Do not agree on a flat fee, but insist on the meter being used (and switched on), even with AeroTaxi.In these cars you’ll also find free Wi-Fi internet, and payment can be also done by POS terminals. You can book a taxi on-line and be sure that your driver is waiting for you. You can also book your taxi far in advance or just appear to AeroTaxi’s desk inside the airport; the taxis are just outside the door.

By train

An overnight (sleeper)train runs every second day from Tbilisi in Georgia. After departing at 22:15 the journey takes nine hours with a scheduled arrival time in Yerevan of 07:18. Border formalities will be at 23:00, expect it to take some time. The wagons are the standard Soviet era hold-overs but they are fairly comfortable. Bring your own food and water as there is no restaurant car onboard. Fares start at 31 laris per bed (includes sheets, pillow and towel). Make sure you get a ticket early on the day you travel as the lower bunks sell out fast.

Overnight trains in the winter depart at 20:20 or 22:00, you should check at the station which time is valid for any day. The journey takes approximately 11 hours. The cheapest seating place in “obschij vagon” is 22 lari, but you may find yourself being seated among hundreds of boxes of mandarins and other fruits, since this is one of the ways of moving goods to Armenia. Perhaps this information is outdated. Check at the railway station.

Notice that during the summer months this train runs from Batumi instead, arriving at 21:40 in Tbilisi. It takes around 10 hours from there, border formalities are uncomfortably around 02:00. Snacks/water “gifts” will be provided on the train. Perhaps this information is outdated. Check at the railway station.

UPD. November 2015, Train departs at 20:20, arrives at 6:55, bed costs 50 Georgian Lari (22 USD)

There is metro station right at the train station. Easy to reach city center. Money exchange open after 9 or 10 am. But you can use ATM inside railway station building.

By car

Options include arriving into Armenia via Georgia or Iran. A drive to Yerevan from Armenia-Iran border will take approximately 6 hours, and is a great way to explore Southern Armenia, cities like Meghri, Kapan, Goris, Sisian, etc.

Arriving from Georgia will allow you to drive trough Northern Armenia and driving to Yerevan will take 4-5 hours.

Highways are high standard, although sometimes can be narrow (1 line to each direction) due to mountainous terrain.

By bus

You can reach Yerevan by bus from Tbilisi, fare costs 15 lari ($10US) and takes about 12 hours. More expensive is to take a 30 lari ($20 US) marshutka/minibus but it’s much faster at about 5 hours. Sometimes you can take a shared car from Tbilisi as well. Again, a bit more expensive than minibus, but faster and more comfortable.

Bus service to Yerevan also is available in Istanbul, or many of the cities on the Black Sea coast of Turkey en route to Yerevan, with a detour through Georgia.

There is also a daily service to/from Tehran and Tabriz. Buy ticket at Kilikia bus station, 25000 dram (55USD) the same for Tabriz and Tehran. Ticket office with old lady (probably speaks no English) works till 17:00. Bring passport with you. Departure around 12:00. The bus is extremely comfortable, a small bag of snacks and water is provided, it stops at least once each side of the border and the scenery is incredible, however it does take about 22 hours. The border crossing is, of course, an absolute nightmare beyond imagination. (November 2015 was very easy, but took 2.5 hours in total)

After you clear Iranian border you can change money. Rate is good (34900 IRR/USD, November 2015). Almost the same as in Tehran.

In Yerevan some of the bus lines from Turkey are: Karbut Tour: +374-10-54-26-97 and Oz Aybaki +374-10-56-50-03. Yerevan Central Bus Station: Armenia, Yerevan, Tsovakal Isakovi Ave., 6 Building, Tel: +374-10-565370 Bus to Istanbul is around 60 USD

There many buses to Russia as well. As far as Moscow.

Marshrutka to Karabakh (Stepanakert) costs 5000 dram, departs every hour from 7.00 to 10.00, takes 5 hours.

http://wikitravel.org/en/Yerevan


Destination: Armenia

ARMENIA

To be honest, this Armenia trip wasn’t really decided until we finally booked the ticket. Months before the actual trip, we had just decided to go some place to celebrate Adrian’s birthday. We have been religiously looking through the cheapest flights coming from Dubai since we have thought of the idea and after deliberate discussion we have arrived at our decision. So we had lay out our criteria for that country we could go to for a quick escape.

First, it should be off the beaten path, not known to most tourists. Second, it should be no more than 5 hours away from Dubai via plane (this is for convenience just in case call of of duty arises). Third, it shouldn’t require visa application prior to arrival. And last but definitely not the least and I think the most important criteria, it should be INEXPENSIVE.

We’ve heard about Armenia through Dubai travel agencies usually offering 3 days and 2 nights tour of Yerevan and nearby provinces but we have not really paid attention to the advertisements we see. Just before researching about it personally, We have no idea about where Armenia is and how interesting this small nation stands. So imagine our surprise when we have found out that it fits exactly what we’re looking for.

Armenia is a nation smacked in the middle of 4 different countries. Azerbaijan on the East, Turkey on the West, Georgia on the North and Iran on the South. Who would’ve thought that there’s a small independent nation somewhere in between those countries? This makes Armenia a perfect location for being at off the beaten path. The travel from Dubai to Armenia is only 3 hours away from Dubai so that’s another check on our list. Also, as we found out, as Philippine passport holders, we are entitled for visa-on-arrival to the country! Yay! that’s almost 3 out 4 criteria that was aced by Armenia. But the big question still lies, is it worth the money? Moreover, is it inexpensive? We have scanned through the world wide web in search of reliable answers and we thought, why not check the latest cost of living over there? So we checked on our favorite site for checking the cost of living per country and search for Armenia including the capital city of Yerevan and this made us go crazy:

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Cheapest wine in the world? A dollar for food and drinks? Who who would say no?

You can check and compare cost of living for each countries and your home country through these websites: 

NUMBEO

http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/city_result.jsp country=Armenia&city=Yerevan&displayCurrency=USD

EXPATISTAN

https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/yerevan?currency=USD

We personally recommend NUMBEO as it is collaborative and it encourages people who had been on those places or are currently living on those places to contribute to generating the statistics. It’s also updated monthly so, thumbs up to that!

Taking the top spot in the world ranking for having one of the cheapest cost of living in the world, it is no question that Armenia is the perfect choice for our trip. After further research we also found out that Armenia’s culture is rich in history and wasn’t identified until its independence in 1991 from the former Soviet Republic. So you have an ethnic tradition combined with soviet republic influence, do not tell me it does not tickle your wanderlust genes already!

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Travel essentials. All set!

So we booked our flights courtesy of the low cost airline of the UAE, FlyDubai https://www.flydubai.com/en/ which not only offer cheap flights to various destinations, but also offers various service options while traveling and that includes in-flight wifi! For only 1553 dirhams (423 USD) we have return tickets from Dubai to Yerevan flying from Dubai International Airport Terminal 2. Cheap yet world class, yes to that!

After we have finalized everything, we still didn’t have any concrete plans on what to do once we set foot in Armenia so we literally have lots of adventures and misadventures during our trip that we will share on our 6 part blog series entitled Destination: Armenia!

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