As we collected our rental car, we heard voices shouting, "Armenia is at war!" The car company that we were using were the only ones that allowed us to rent a car to drive across the border from Georgia. A 20 something-year-old man told us that we would be okay providing that we didn't take the first border crossing. He even said that we could call him if we needed help. We politely said thanks, secretly thinking to ourselves that we wouldn't need him, but we took his number as a precaution.
It was apparent that the border dispute between Armenia ad Azerbaijan is in fact still quite ugly. We didn't see or hear a lot about it (only really through the TV on the news). A young woman reporter was interviewing the troops at the border patrol campus. The soldiers were full of smiles; I felt a bit uneasy.
We weren't able to collect our rental car before 11 am. We found ourselves in the middle of bustling lanes surrounded by shops, administrative buildings, and garages. The traffic was horrendous and consisted of all types of vehicles including massive tractors with extended trailers slowly going in and out of lanes. We must have seen nearly every type of transport that there is on one road. Thankfully, there weren't many motorbikes.
Regardless of traffic, driving to Georgia takes time. It took us nearly 2 hours to complete the journey, even though it was only 111 kilometers to Guguti. The long journey was a result of small roads, traffic and a very long construction project which stretched twenty kilometers! We couldn't help but feel relieved when we arrived at border control. Surprisingly, we completed the process in half an hour, easy.
We were more than pleased to cruise across thirty kilometers of pure, pristine tarmac! This was a welcomed surprise; we predicted that the Armenian roads would be in much worse condition. Sadly, the smooth cruising didn't last. After the first thirty kilometers, the state of the road deteriorated.
We didn't have to drive along many highways, so a lot of our journey to Yerevan was relatively straightforward until we reached the city outskirts. We took an on-ramp through a bigger road, but the turning that we needed to go down was obstructed. Not only that, there was an accident at the end of the ramp, which meant we had to enter the road and then make a sharp u-turn a few minutes later to get back on the correct track. The whole thing was a mess.
Yerevan can be described as a clean, modern, lovely city. After driving around rather uncomfortably through the small villages and towns, we couldn't make our minds up as to what to expect. We were delighted with what we found. We strolled past the opera house, a fancy new shopping mall packed with trendy restaurants and shops. There was a square in the center surrounded by fountains, beautiful buildings and people enjoying time with their families. The sun was out, and nearly everyone was armed with an ice cream!
Aside from the many potholes and increasingly bumpy roads, Yerevan was worth a visit.
Narrated by Jim Vail, originally written for reflectionsenroute.com .