Wednesday, July 29, 2009

After yesterday’s experience taking a tourist to a place that I suppose could be termed a hostel, it seems the best thing to do would be to write a tourism manual that told the truth. After greeting a guest from Fresno at Zvartnots, we took him to the address listed in the travel manual (not published by Armenians) where he was to spend 3-4 nights. Arriving at the building, near the city center, we realized that it was the wrong building, so we called the phone number written in the manual. A woman answered that their address must have been written incorrectly in the book, and told us the correct address. Finally finding the building, and the right entrance, we entered to a damp, unpleasant odor, surprising in a city center building.

Knocking at the door of the hostel apartment, a woman answered, overweight and dressed inapropriately, to say the least. Taking a step into the apartment, we saw that it was in what’s known here as “petakan” condition, meaning, no renovation whatsoever has been done since being built (the manual said that the rooms were well-renovated and clean). The woman said that her apartment was already full of guests (where they were going to sleep, scattered in different rooms, I won’t describe), so our friend would have to go to the apartment one floor up from her. As she spoke, the landlord of the upstairs apartment/hostel arrived, smiling as he greeted us. His lifestyle was one we won’t go into now.

After walking up a flight of stairs, we went into his apartment, and he showed the “bedroom” where our friend would be sleeping. It was a side room of sorts, with two old couches, which turned out to be where our friend and another guest would sleep. When we asked about the damp, odd smell in the apartment, the landlord said it was because of a large dog that someone keeps in the basement of the building, or possibly because the roof needed repair, seemingly not in the least concerned.

After leaving, an uneasy feeling later in the evening caused us to call our new friend, and offer him to stay with us the next day or two. “Thanks,” he said. “The apartment wasn’t exactly what I was expecting...”

In other words, if anyone wishes to rent an inexpensive apartment in Yerevan, be careful, no matter what the travel manual might say.

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