One of my first tasks after arriving in Armenia was finding a place to live for the summer. I’d been told there were a lot of furnished apartments in Yerevan (the capital city), so I wasn’t too worried. The tough part was deciding how authentic an Armenian experience I wanted.
Here’s the first place I looked at…
Rundown apartment blocks like this are an unfortunate remnant of Armenia’s time in the Soviet Union. As I approached the building, I had a feeling this was a little too authentic for me. Here’s the unlit entry way…
This photo really needs to be scratch-n-sniff for you to get the full effect. Also, you need to imagine a dozen flies buzzing around. The inside of the apartment was definitely nicer than the outside, but still just a little too Soviet. The most unique feature was something that looked like a glass aquarium (minus the fish) above the bathtub.
[This was the picture the popped up when I Googled “tank above shower”]
Apparently you’re supposed to fill it, then turn on the heater. 30 minutes later you can take a hot shower. Thanks but no thanks.
So the other end of the housing spectrum are the new apartment buildings that dot the city, but these seemed more like Yere-Vegas than Yerevan.
There are plenty of places that put the “noveau” in “nouveau riche.” Check out the gold windows on this bad boy.
As much as I imagine myself an oligarch-wannabe, I decided I wanted a place with more character. Luckily, there’s a compromise. There are older buildings, built in the 1940’s, that have character but are solid.
I checked out a few places and found one that’s actually renovated on the inside with fairly standard furniture.
Compare this to some of the more Soviet furniture options I saw in other places.
But my place still has character. I’ve got my own dark entryway (minus the smell and flies).
And check out the broken window on the outside of my landing.
And all the broken window frames piled on the inside of the landing.
My landlord seemed very proud of the wallpaper in the bedroom. It had little inlaid stars but I didn’t see the big deal.
Until I turned out the lights the first night.
My camera’s not good enough to do this justice. The stars are glow-in-the-dark, covering the walls and ceiling. So I’ve got my own indoor Milky Way every night.
And then there’s my special shelf full of ceramic figurines. Hard to say which is my favorite.
My place is right on Mashtots Avenue, the widest boulevard in the city. So I had a great view of the Flag Day parade.
I kept wondering why they were chanting “High-yes-tahn” over and over again… until some clued me in that “Hayastan”means “Armenia” in Armenian.
Although the apartment has been renovated, it still has it quirks. I couldn’t get the stove or oven to work. The landlord kept telling me he was working on it. Finally, he admitted that the gas was never hooked up to the apartment. Good thing I’m not a big cook.
Then, there’s the washing situation. I cannot figure out how to get the Russian-made washer to do a load of laundry in anything less than 2 hours.
Only 1 hour and 48 minutes to go…
And there’s no dryer, so it’s off to the communal clothesline in the courtyard. This is a lot harder than it looks, but I finally got everything on there.
I managed to drop two clothespins and one pair of boxers into the courtyard below. Rookie mistake.
The guys who play cards in the courtyard every day seemed bemused by my efforts.
I get the feeling that real men in Armenia don’t do their own laundry.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of “Ar-mania” where I head out into the country. Highlights include tasting truly homemade vodka and being warned about snipers.