Since Risto had to work during the day I decided to take two days and visit a neighboring country – Armenia. It was even easier because just a month ago Estonia signed visa-free travel with Armenia. So Risto’s secretary found out that there will be a “Marshrutka” – a small minibus – going from Tbilisi to Yerevan (the capital of Armenia) 1PM and after sending out some e-mails in the morning I took a taxi to the station.
The Marshrutka was fully packed. I sat at the backseat together with 3 other guys, two of them had obviously eaten a lot of Hatšapuri in their lifetime. And even though it was very warm inside (I stripped down to my t-shirt) and they had a lot of natural “insulation” in their bodies, they still wore jerseys with a leather jacket on top of it. There was so little room that only 3 of us could have their back against the seat at a time, the fourth guy had to lean forward for us to make it.
The trip between Tbilisi and Yerevan is certainly not for the faint-hearted. The roads are narrow, mountaineous and the driver thinks he is Räikkönen – even on a serpentine the speed goes to 130+ every once in a while. And the overtakings they make…let’s just say that at times you’d be better off looking out of the side window instead. I managed to stay calm by repeating myself that these guys drive that road every day and they are still alive.
Five and a half hour later I made it to Yerevan, checked in my hotel and then went to look around in the city centre. The city is beautiful – very clean, spaceous, lot of antique buildings and of course monuments here and there. What surprised me was how polite the traffic was – unlike in Tbilisi, the drivers actually let you pass the road and follow the traffic signs.
Again my russian skills were good enough to get everything done. Even so that when I went to have a dinner, the waitress asked me if I was from Moscow. Perhaps she was just trying to make me feel good about my bad grammar.
The next morning I found out that the last Marshrutka leaves back to Tbilisi already 10 AM in the morning. So I woke up early and walked around for another hour, seeing the Opera House, Moscow Theatre, Parliament building and other places. By 10 AM I was at the station to take another action-packed ride to Tbilisi.