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Friday, September 22, 2017
Getting In & Out | Car | 1

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Getting In & Out | Car | 1
By Hired Car - Van - Taxi
TourArmenia
Updated 2017

By Hired Car

Though you can rent a car now in Yerevan, and certainly rive in by yourself, for the typical traveler, you do not want the hassle of doing so: Import procedures at the border are long and ripe with petty corruption ("nothing $100 can't handle", as a friend once told me), you can expect to be stopped on any day trip and hit up for 1000 AMD "tips" by highway police, service centers outside of Yerevan are few and far between and cater to the Soviet vehicle exclusively, and Armenian drivers are almost (almost) as 'daring' as they are in Cairo. Having said that, It can be a lot of fun, if you like road racing, hunting for local mechanics when your car breaks down in a mountain village and planning not to keep to a plan. Otherwise, it is easier and much less stressful to hire a local to do it for you. Finding a local driver is very easy, you can haggle over prices, and you get to watch the scenery go by as you go.

Hiring a car and driver or going by van is not a rock bottom option but it is still cheap by western standards, and much chepaer than flyinh.  It is the most convenient way of traveling if you want to see the countryside. Fixed route vans (yertoughayin taxis) will stick to the main road, but with hired cars, you can stop where you want and get off main roads to visit villages and historic sights. Since the driver knows the terrain he can provide some insight into what you are seeing. Drivers charge by the carload, so you can split the cost between all passengers.

Before You Go
With hired cars, check the car before you leave (especially tires) or else you may end up seeing the inside of a repair station for most of the time you are traveling. Settle on a price before getting in the car, and never waver from it, unless you ask the driver to take side trips. The price the driver quotes is the price for petrol, his service, and the car rental. You are not obligated to pay for anything else. The price should also include road stops in Georgia if you are going to Batumi (there are several along the way with police asking for handouts), but it does not cover any cost related to your visa as you cross the border. Very few drivers speak English (almost all speak Armenian and Russian), so it helps if you know some Armenian or have a translator with you.

With fixed route vans, the price is common knowledge among all the passengers, so you won't risk any surprises after entering the vehicle. The drivers like to stick as many passengers as possible into the van (this is their life-blood after all), so it will most likely be cramped. This is less of a problem traveling in the regions then in Yerevan, itself. If you travel by yertoughayin taxi, you will be a source of much conversation, for tourists rarely use this method of traveling. Expect a lot of questions, a lot of smiles and all kinds of tips for where to go and what to see.

Both hired cars and Fixed Route vans will have signs on the front windshield saying where they will go. Most common destinations in Russian and Armenian Languages:
 
 

Destination

Armenian

Russian

Tbilisi

µ

Batumi

Tehran

»

Meghri

ػ

Airum

Bagratashen

߻

Bavra

 

On the Road: Offering a cigarette to the driver may receive an initial rejection, but persist. They will appreciate it. Unless you want to stop along the road to eat, bring your own food. Drivers rarely know a great little coffee shop along the way for you to stop at (there aren't any anyway, just roadside barbecues or a few restaurants), so choose where you want to stop, and ask him to Kangnets'rek khantrem mekina aistegh (kahng-nets'REHK khan-TREM me-ki-NAH ay-STEHGH; Stop the car here, please: γݷݻ ݹ ٻݳ ). If you bring a thermos, fill it with hot water for making coffee or tea.

FROM YEREVAN 

TBILISI, BATUMI

Car Hires: In Yerevan, Hired cars to Tbilisi and Batumi can be found in the parking area in front of the Yerkatgitzi Kairan (Train Station), located on Tigran Metz Avenue, 2.7 kilometers from Republic Square (M: Satsounsti Davit B: 1, 15, 17 TB: 147 T: 2, 7). They will have a small Russian or English sign the front windshield showing where they are willing to go. Prices quoted to us were $120 per car load to Tbilisi and $400 per car load to Batumi. The prices are negotiable, but no lower than $20 less than the stated price. If you are traveling with a friend, this option is faster than taking a train or bus, and the driver will show you the sights along the way. Drivers we talked to had family in Tbilisi, and were willing to throw in overnight stays in homes for $5 to $10 per night, with breakfast.

Another spot for hiring cars to Tbilisi, Batumi and the border at Meghri is by the Kino Rossia (now Kino Airarat) on Agatangeghosi Poghots (ah-ga-tahn-ge-GHOS-ee po-GHOTS). It is across and up 100 meters from the Circus. (M: Zoravar Andranik; B: # 15, 32, 52 TB: # 4, 17 T: # 2, 9) It is located 700 meters from Republic Square on Tigran Metz St., turn right on Agatangeghosi). If you come out of the metro into the large market, go to the opposite side of the Kino. There is a parking area in front of a store called, "The Bible Society of Armenia". Ask for a driver to take you. Prices we were quoted (per carload up to four people) were Tbilisi: $200; Meghri: $200; Batumi: $400.

Still another spot for cars to Tbilisi is in front of the avtokayan on Admiral Isakov Avenue (B: #18, 46, 113 TB: #20). It is one kilometer from the central Shuka on Mashtots Ave. (go South on Mashtots past the wine factory and cross the bridge to the cognac factory, then left about 700 meters. The station will be on your right, a large A-frame building that looks like a KOA campground office). On your left as you approach the bus station, there are cars available for hire. They mostly drive to Giumri and Vanadzor, but they do offer to drive to Tbilisi for $200 a carload.

Yertoughayin Taxis: to Tbilisi can be found at the Yerkatgitzi Kaiyeran (Train Station), located on Tigran Metz Avenue, 2.7 kilometers from Republic Square (M: Satsounsti Davit B: 1, 15, 17 TB: 147 T: 2, 7). mentioned above. They will be marked on the van's windshield with a sign saying where they are going. Prices are around $20 per passenger. Note they wait until they have a full van before leaving.

Another spot for fixed route vans to Tbilisi is in front of the avtokayan on Admiral Isakov Avenue (B: #18, 46, 113 TB: #20). There are no set schedules that we could find, but we were told by passengers that they leave around 8 a.m. in the morning, and continue leaving until 2 p.m. This was conditioned on them having a full van load of people. Prices were about $20 one-way.

IRAN

If you're going to Iran, you must have a visa, which can be a stumbling block for American tourists. The Iranian government does not encourage foreign tourism from Armenia, but it can be done. Check at the Iranian Embassy in Yerevan (1 Budaghian St. : 529 830, 280 457) for visa and permission to go.

Car Hires: We are sure that there are cars for hire to go to Iran, but we couldn't find any. Ask at your hotel, or check with a local travel agent to see what rates they will charge Or try go to the Persian transport office at Hotel Erebuni and see if they can arrange one ( 560 105).

Yertoughayin Taxis: Vans run daily to Meghri, at the border with Iran. They can be found at the Yerevan avtokayan (bus station) on Admiral Isakova Avenue (go South on Mashtots past the wine factory and cross the bridge to the cognac factory, then left about 700 meters; B: #18, 26, 46, 113; TB: #20). They begin running about 8 a.m. , or until the van is filled with passengers.



FROM VANADZOR

TBILISI, BATUMI

Car Hires: Go to the Train Station and Bus Station (located next to each other). Also check with your hotel. They will usually know someone willing to take you. Small enough town that asking a few persons can get you a car and driver in a day. Prices are negotiable, but whatever they charge will be for the carload.

Yertoughayin Taxis: Check out the train station and bus station. There may be vans willing to take you at least to the Northern border and beyond. They start leaving around 7 a.m., or when they fill up with passengers.


FROM GIUMRI

Car Hires: Go to the avtokayan (Bus Station), 400 meters from the Shuka on Shahumian Street (B: # 1, 2, 10, 40, 125, 126 taxi: 200-400 AMD). The drivers and cars are parked in front of the station. They quote prices first in Russian Rubles, but you can get prices in AMD or dollars (they prefer dollars). Prices are negotiable, but not more than 20% of the first price. Be sure the price is for the car (mekinayov ginuh) or person (mart) first. Price we were quoted were $200 to Batumi, $20 to Airum, and $300 to Meghri (per car).

Yertoughayin Taxis: Check out the bus station. There may be vans willing to take you at least to the Northern border and beyond. They start leaving early in the morning when they fill up with passengers.



FROM TBILISI, BATUMI

Check at Bus and train Stations for cars and vans willing to carry passengers in either direction. Prices vary between $100 to $300 per carload.

FROM MEGHRI (IRANIAN BORDER)

Best location is at the Bus Station and at the border itself, by the bridge. Both Cars and Yertughayin Taxis are available during the day. Meghri is such a small town, just asking someone on the street will lead you to a driver anxious to take you across the border. Expect to pay about $150-250 to Tehran, and face a lot of road blocks. Bus is better.   


TAXIS

Since the price of taxis is regulated, this could be a good budget option for travelers. Regardless of where they go in Armenia, they officially charge the same rates: 200 AMD initial fee plus 200 AMD per kilometer. Unofficially, they charge what they can get, but since you don't have to pay until you get out, you can stick to the legal price, add a tip and listen to the grumbling (or yelling) as you go about your business. Since the charge is per carload (up to four passengers) you can divide the cost among all passengers. Taxis can at least take you to the border. Plan on arranging with the driver fat least a few hours earlier, since he will have to collect his things for the trip. He may ask you for some of the money up front. Don't do it. Better to arrange a time, meet, pile into the car, and go from there.

Don't be surprised if he refuses, either. He doesn't have to take you to Iran or Georgia. Just ask him to refer you to another driver if he can't. If the driver is willing, you can negotiate a price beyond the Armenian border. You can negotiate a little on longer trips, but shorter jogs will be regulated, and the drivers unwilling to cut their income.

Taxi Rates (200 AMD plus 200 AMD per kilometer)

Approximate distances and prices at time of writing, from Yerevan:

Meghri: 400 kilometers 80,200 AMD
Bavra: 180 kilometers 36,200 AMD

Airum: 200 kilometers 40,200 AMD

Taxis are marked by a small "Taxi" light on the car roof. They come in all shapes and sizes. Hiring one that looks nicer than another is no guarantee it has a better engine, or a safer driver. Obviously, if it is belching smoke and your door swings open every time you turn a corner, it is not a car to stay in. The surprise is that taxis generally are cleaner on the inside then they are in the larger cities in the States. Compared to New York particularly, the seats are comfy and the floor mats always swept clean. No surprises under the seats here.

Places To Catch a Taxi:
Good places in Yerevan to catch taxis are Republic Square: Hotel Armenia and Hotel Erebuni; Mashtots Avenue: Shuka, Boulevard Park, Pushkin St., Tumanian St., Opera Square; Sayat Nova: Hotel Ani; Tigran Metz Ave.: Kino Rossia, GUM department Store, Train Station; Admiral Isahakov Ave.: Central Bus Station; Moskovian St.: Cascade, Baghramian, Abovian Kourian St.: Abovian, Nalbandian Metro Stops: All Central stops. Hotels always have taxi stands nearby, but they will be the most likely to try and overcharge.

Good locations in Vanadzor and Giumri, as in most regional towns are at the train or bus stations, at hotels, and at town central squares. Prices are cheaper in the regions, so negotiate. You might get a very good rate.

Hailing a Taxi: Usually during the daytime there are taxis waiting at the points we mentioned. If there is more than one car, the drivers tend to sit together in one car or under the shade of a nearby tree or building (We have interrupted more chess and nardi games by waiting drivers then we dare mention).

Etiquette: Don't just get in a taxi. It may not be the next one to go. If unsure which driver is for which taxi, ask "Who is going?" (Ov eh g-NOUM? ). The driver will point to his car, and you can proceed. Be sure to tell him where you want to go before getting in. Once you open the door and sit, you owe him 200 AMD.

When you want to hail a taxi on the street, stand on the side of the street or road with your arm out about shoulder height, palm down, and wave it up and down. Some people stick their hands out and hold them at a downward angle. If a taxi is not engaged, it will pull up to the side of the road (usually 20 meters ahead of you). Tell them where you want to go, and get a confirmation before you get in the taxi.

When you hail a taxi, don't be surprised if another unmarked car pulls over to the side. Drivers are often willing to take passengers, as the extra income helps them with their gasoline expenses (among the highest prices in the world for among the poorest quality fuel). Feel free to accept their offer, but negotiate a price before you get in the car, since these drivers are not bound by any price regulations.




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