Robert Schrader in Armenia

The Truth About Armenia

Before I traveled to the Caucasus, Armenia was definitely the country I anticipated would affect me most. Photos of high-altitude lakes and ancient churches notwithstanding, I sympathized with the sad plight of the Armenian people and had a feeling, based on my interactions with citizens of countries with similar histories, that this would translate to hospitality and kindness that would literally stop me in my tracks.

Unfortunately, Armenia ended up being my least-favorite stop in the Caucasus by a very long shot. In fact, I ended up disliking the time I spent there so much that I cut my planned trip in half. If you’re asking yourself “Should I visit Armenia?”, whether as part of a larger regional trip or a standalone one, you’ll want to continue to reading to learn how I arrived at this conclusion.

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The Problem With Yerevan

My eventual distaste for Armenia wasn’t for lack of a good first impression. To be sure, Tufenkian Historic Hotel Yerevan was one the nicest hotels I’d ever stayed in at that point in my life, to say nothing of its central location to the attractions of Yerevan. The problem with this? Yerevan doesn’t have many attraction, at least not ones that are worth seeing in my opinion.

If you have to spend a day (or, God forbid, longer) in Yerevan, the only place I’d recommend you go out of your way to see is the Cascade Complex. A massive monument to Armenia’s heritage that now seems every bit as ironic as it does majestic, Kaskad (as it’s known in the Armenian language) is mostly useful because of the view it provides of the city—and, on clear days, Mt. Ararat. Republic Square is also rather beautiful too, even if it’s not spectacular.


Music to My Ears

I stayed in a nice hotel in Yerevan, but I knew that if I had any hope of finding something exciting to do there, I’d need to head to a hostel. Indeed, Envoy Hostel & Tours proved at least as useful for the second part of its name as I imagined it would for the first, providing me (and about a dozen other travelers) with an affordable, fulfilling day trip to some of Armenia’s most beautiful places, namely the gorgeous Lake Sevan.

We also got to visit so many of Armenia’s iconic orthodox churches and monasteries that I was almost burnt out on them by the end of the day. Inside the final one, Geghard Monastery, I witnessed a choral group perform a 14th-century hymn that quite literally took me back in time—it was otherworldly.

(It was also funny, however, considering the biggest hit of the world’s most-famous person of Armenian descent.)

Running to Stand Still

After my Lake Sevan tour, which also included a stop at the incredibly moving Noratus Cemetery, I felt rather upbeat about that Armenia was worth a visit, and perhaps even all the hype I’d built up about it. Unfortunately, my third (and, ultimately, final) day in Armenia also proved to be the nail in the coffin of me wanting to spend any time in the country.

You see, I wanted to make a visit to Tatev Monastery, which I didn’t imagine would be very difficult—it’s among Armenia’s most-visited tourist attractions, after all. Unfortunately, my hotel provided me both the wrong time and departing station for the public bus that goes that, and I lacked the Russian skills to effectively haggle for a taxi, so after wasting half a day in vain, I stopped at the first café I could fine and ordered a glass of dry white wine.

“It was Ray J!” I took a congratulatory sip, having remembered who the world’s other most-famous Armenian had made a sex tape with as a precursor to her fame.

Context of the Caucasus

I packed my things up that night and headed back to Georgia first thing in the morning, as fast as I could. In spite of this, I blame myself as much as the merits of the travel destination itself for how disappointing my trip to Armenia ended up being. I didn’t plan well (which was also the main reason, for example, my pan-Azerbaijan adventure immediately prior had slimmed down to two days in Baku) and I had inflated expectations, the lack of which was why Georgian destinations like Tbilisi and Kazbegi had appealed to me as strongly as they did.

Is Armenia Worth Visiting?

I can’t fully answer the question of whether or not Armenia is worth a visit. All I can is that the country didn’t live up to my expectations, and I probably won’t go back there unless I’m paid to do so. On the other hand, if you’re headed to the Caucasus and have a few spare days, it would be silly not to at least try it for yourself—my opinions are mine alone, and quite possibly won’t apply to you. Plus, as you can see looking at the pictures I’ve posted, Armenia is rather beautiful, or at least I portrayed it to be so.

Leave Your Daily Hell   Filed under: Armenia

About The Author

is the author of 847 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!


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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

kgal1298 September 12, 2014 at 2:15 pm

That sounds like a lot of bad luck. It’s hard to navigate countries where you can’t speak the native language and they don’t speak yours at all. Overall at least you learned a few things right? Also, not sure if you would want to do porn with Ray-J who knows where else he’s been besides with Kim K.

Robert Schrader September 15, 2014 at 5:57 am

Touché! lol

Bill Morrison September 16, 2014 at 10:05 am

I sort of doubt that either Cher or the Kardashians would call Armenia home.

Robert Schrader September 17, 2014 at 6:21 am

Oh I know! I just thought it was funny to riff off that.

Rick November 27, 2014 at 8:07 am

So Downs Syndrome children bellow … that’s pretty offensive, nearly as offensive as the endless photographs of the person who wrote that along with the cliche-ridden garbage that fills this website. Your copy is not vibrant, it is ignorant and irritating. Why would anyone want travel tips from someone who is so well, wrong? Delhi, for example, is nothing like Mumbai. I can’t bear any more of this, and I have seen any enough photos of your vacant face in one visit to last me a lifetime

Jason Nazar March 23, 2015 at 10:42 pm

U shouldve stayed in texas!

A few bad taxi experiences and you call the entire country bullshit?? Your ignorance is glowing.

Please, stop blogging, and go suck on a sourpop

Tatevik Sargsyan May 11, 2015 at 9:53 am

You just made poor decisions. there are many
tourist agencies in armenia that have English websites and English speaking staff and day trips to Tatev directly, which are quite affirdable. there are also taxi services that you can call and request for a driver with basic English skills. Armenia does not have the infrastructure for easy travel so you have to do your research before going. And since you are from the States then you know that rural areas in the USA are also extremely unaccessible if you do not have a car, so Armenia is not unique in that regard.

Wesley Pechler September 4, 2016 at 11:56 am

This might be the single most entertaining article about the problems of travelling I’ve ever read, the schadenfreude is real. Also thank you, I just booked flights to and from Tbilisi for next July (early, I know), giving me 17 days in the Caucasus. Now I know I’ll spend 8 of those in Georgia!

Wesley Pechler September 5, 2016 at 4:42 am

Also – could you please tell me the name of the tour company you used to see Garni, Geghard and Sevan in one day?

adom September 17, 2016 at 12:18 am

This might the single sadest travel blog ever, demonstrating your travel naivety…total lack of patience and tolerance… you don’t speak the language but still it’s everyone else’s fault, but hey you’re “a Texan”….seriously Armenia is not that had to get around…

Robert Schrader September 17, 2016 at 5:55 am

HI Wesley: Sorry about the delay! I just went to Yerevan Hostel and took their tour.

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