Yerevan Airport Express Bus

Yerevan Airport Express Bus

Yerevan Airport Bus from Zvartnots International Airport to Town

Price: 300 Drams

Distance: 15 km/10 miles

Time taken: ~30 min

Frequency: every 30 min?

Bus Number: 201

Where to find the bus?

From Yerevan Zvartnorts International Airport

The Airport Express Bus is located at Arrivals level. It is on the island beyond where the taxis are lined up. You should see the signage fairly easily. It costs 300 drams, and there’s wifi and credit card advertised. I wouldn’t count on it. I paid cash.

Yerevan Airport Express Bus

Yerevan Airport Express Bus

From Yerevan to Zvartnots International Airport

I boarded at Yeritasardakan. The bus can be “found” opposite the SAS supermarket. It makes several stops along Abovyan, Amiryan etc, Kilikia central bus station. (more on this later)

An article online suggests that the frequency is half hourly. I’d say, it shows up when it shows up, and it really depends on the driver. When I went on a mission to locate the bus the day before, one driver was waiting at Yeritasardankan, and departed on the dot at 13.00.

When I actually went to take the airport express bus from Yeritasardakan, the driver was 5 min late. And although Yeritasardakan is actually the first stop, he didn’t actually make a hard stop. Thankfully someone else was also looking for this bus, so he stopped when she flagged him down. In the other “stops” that he was supposed to make, he just made a quick visual scan, and kept driving.

If you are planning on taking the bus from other stops, be sure to be standing by the side of the road, scanning for the bus.

I’ve posted some maps of where to find the bus.

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At Yeritasardakan, wait across the street from SAS supermart, right by the underpass.

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On Abovyan, wait around the benches opposite the Singing Fountains.

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Sao Paulo, Brazil: Who said business class will leave you refreshed?, 06 July 2016

Garbage Disposal

When I first booked our business class tickets on American Airlines, it was the full-flat product. But American Airlines pulled a last minute aircraft change (like on day of) to their older product, and we ended up with their crappier angled-flat product. I contacted their customer relations, and they tried to argue that it’s the same product. #AmericanAirlines #fail #DisAAdvantage

We arrived in Sao Paulo a little over 9 am and were out of the airport by 10 am. Here’s where it gets fun. If I’m just changing a small amount of money, I generally don’t mind the crappier rates at the airport. Except, this wasn’t just crappy. It was insane. I tried to change $100, and the bank’s fixed rate commission alone was $25. I’d have gotten less than $70 for a $100. So, we walked out, and just tried to take a cab with a credit card.

Getting from Guarulhos International Airport to Sao Paulo (GRU) and back:

The airport is some 25-30 miles from Sao Paulo itself. It was our first day here, so it didn’t occur to us to take an Uber. We went outside the terminal, and they had a counter, which sold you taxi trips. The agents will calculate the distance, and give you a fixed price. Our trip from GRU to Perdizes, where our hotel is ($25 miles) was 150 Brazilian reals (~$45).

However, Uber is widely available in Sao Paulo. On our way back to Sao Paulo, we were staying even further than Perdizes, and the Uber ride cost us 90 Brazilian reals (~$25). Do yourself a favor, and take uber and earn some miles and points while you are at it.

After all the pain associated with getting from the airport to town, we arrived at the hotel pretty close to noon. I was pretty wiped out by this point despite the angled flat seats and starting to come down with a cold, so we just took a long, epic nap. I think we woke up at around 4 in the evening or so.

Next stop? Food. It’s both our first time in Brazil, and we didn’t want to venture too far, so we checked out what’s in our area. Adjusting to South America dining hours is pretty trippy. They do dine pretty late, and restaurants do close after lunch service, and re-open at close to 8 pm. Having missed breakfast and lunch, we were getting pretty hungry, so the challenge was finding something that was open at 6 pm.

The +1 has T-mobile, which has complimentary international data, so we ended up at Mito’s Burgers, an American-style diner about 10 min walk from our hotel. I was sick so I couldn’t taste anything, but the +1 said their burgers are excellent. Two entrees, two drinks and a dessert came up to $40.

Mito Burgers Mito Burgers

Costa Rica to USA: I LOVE Hobby Border Control! SJO – HOU – ABQ, 23 March 2016

Morning view from Junior Suite #1909 @ Hyatt Regency Albuquerque

I got sick overnight – puked out the contents of my stomach. The whole day was iffy, and that we had 3 different airports and dreaded US border control ahead didn’t help. I could barely stand up when we were waiting in line to check in at SJO airport, and was sitting on my roller.

06 00: God, I hate early flights. I hate them even more when I’m sick. On a bright note, Uber was on time, we made everything in good time. Check in lines at Southwest counter was long. Go early!

07 00: Thank god for the small mercies. Sitting at the SJO lounge, sipping hot tea, and just hoping the pain will go away.

12 00: I get a lot of anxiety at US border control. Hobby is one of the most painless experiences so far! I got through border control in record time.

16 30: Picked up rental car. Arrived at hotel. Day over. We did get a nice rental car upgrade to a Chrysler 200. The mister liked it. I have no feelings about cars. I did get told repeatedly not to accidentally shift gears, because the gear shift is a dial between us, and looked exactly like the audio volume switch. 😀

New Mexico

USA: Zen near the Can in Houston Hobby Airport, 20 March 2016

Houston Hobby Airport

06 00: I dropped our keys into the express check-out box, we hopped onto the shuttle, and went to San Diego Terminal 1 for our flight to Houston Hobby. The mister has a bad tummy ache.

12 00 – 19 00: Hobby airport is really good for connections – simple and hassle-free. We didn’t head out, because mister’s tummy ache has devolved into a situation that requires proximity to the bathroom.

20 00: Rowdy drunk spring breakers on our flight, ugh!. Thankfully, our flight is quite empty, and we had the last three rows to ourselves, easing mister’s discomfort.

23 00: Immigration was quick. Many taxi drivers clamoring outside – very glad I pre-booked our transportation to the hotel. P.S. Costa Rica has Uber! ZZZ

Morocco to Spain: Marrakech to Madrid, 29 December 2015

Madrid

T’was a travel day. I’m mostly just getting my butt from Marrakech to Madrid. I stayed at the hotel until the noon check-out. I made the mistake of taking a taxi just stationed outside the hotel (read: tourist trap). It’s actually a short ride from the hotel to the airport (~2 miles), and the taxi ride should have cost, at maximum, 70 DH. But the taxi driver pointed at some stupid sign on his taxi, saying that he drove me from the further place (not true), and demanded I pay him 100 DH. I just told him that all I had was 50 DH, and 3 Euros, and he could take it or leave it. In retrospect, I’m still pissed that I even gave him the 3 Euros. It’s not a big amount of money, but I hate being extorted by dishonest people. More than that, it’s also the assumption that travellers are stupid, and deserves to be fleeced. Oh well.

Marrakech

After that, it was just a waiting game at the Marrakech airport. Marrakech airport is quite a small airport. They provide 1.5 hrs of free wifi, but you’ll get logged out every 30 mins, so you need to re-log-in every time. You can use multiple devices to extend the free wifi time. Food at the airport is rather pricy (~60 DH sandwiches), so if you are trying to save some money, you should pack some of your food.

Madrid

My Ryanair flight was delayed, so that kinda sucked, because I was already going into Madrid rather late (8+ in the evening), and the late flight meant that I was getting in even later. Fortunately, we did board eventually.

After getting into Madrid T1, I followed the clearly marked signs to the metro station, which is located closer to T2. I got a ticket (5 EUR) on the metro for my station. Thankfully, my hotel is actually on the brown line, so it was one simple change, and a ride to the end of the brown line. I got into my hotel by 10 pm, and after a quick check-in, I went to grab some Burger King before turning in for the night.

Costs:

Transportation: 50 DH + 10 EUR

Food: 200 DH + 8 EUR

Accommodations: 27 EUR

Total: 250 DH (~25 USD) + 45 EUR

Portugal: Lisbon, 24 December 2015

Lisbon

Money

I somehow survived the overnight in Madrid without changing a single Euro. But now that I am in Lisbon, I did need some Euros. Since it is the holiday seasons, and my trip in Europe is rather short, I didn’t have too much time to compare prices, and just sucked it up, by changing my money at the airport. I got a rate of 1 USD = 0.86 EUR. There were no fees. For what it’s worth, when I went by the Western Union at the Russio train station, the rate was 1 USD = 0.93 EUR. I am not sure if they charge fees for doing the change. But if you have some time, it might make sense for you to change a minimal amount at the airport, and change more money when you get into town.

Getting in

Getting into Lisbon via public transport is easy. The airport is connected to the metro system, and it takes about 25 mins to get into town. The metro system has machines for you to buy their ticket (Viagem, 0.50 EUR), and there’s an English menu. You have a few options, you can choose to do a pay-per-trip (I think it’s 2 EUR). In my case, I knew I was going to hit town right after check-in, so I bought a day pass (6 EUR for 24 hrs). It probably took all of 30 mins for me to hit my hotel, since I had to change to the Blue line, and exit at Parque station. The metro stations are actually pretty cool – there is a lot of public art in the different stations. Parque station had a nautical theme, with some ghoulish sea creatures.

After dumping all my stuff at the hotel, I headed back to the metro station, and from Parque, it took about 5 mins to get to Baixa-Chiado, which is the tourist-y part of town. Walking down the Rue Augusta, I hit the tram station in front of Praca do Comercio. The timing was perfect, as I saw Tram 15 pull into the tram station, so I made a quick dash, and hopped onto the tram. The tram ride from Baixa to Belem probably took about 15 mins or so. It was one of the modern, un-sexy trams, but had greater capacity for passengers.

Lisbon

I was hoping that the Jeronimos Monastery would be open, but unfortunately, it appeared closed. The cathedral part of it was open, and I think it is home to many of Portugal’s greats, poets, etc. Architecture was pretty gothic. The sad thing about many tourist attractions is that it’s hard to find peace even in sights of worship. Once the selfie stick comes out, it all goes to hell. I did sit in a pew for a little bit. I’m guessing this place is more of a madhouse in the summer months.

The neighborhood of Jeronimos is pretty nice. There are many large squares and parks around, so if you want to hang around after visiting Belem Tower, the monastery and museums, it’s not a bad spot to grab some pastries, or have lunch.

Lisbon

On the way back, I managed to get on one of the older trams, which is included in the day pass. It was a slow ride, obviously, but I’ve always liked standing behind tram drivers, and seeing the city from that viewpoint. I do find the haphazardness of Lisbon to be charming. I am guessing that navigating those crazy hilly streets on a daily basis would be a bitch, but for a 48-hr whirlwind tour, it is actually quite a bit of fun! After ending back in Praca do Comercio, I decided to explore Baixa. Well, if you are into shopping and tourist traps, it’s not too shabby. I did really want to eat, but I couldn’t bite. I think every fiber of my being resists walking into a tourist trap.

After strolling around for a bit, I eventually wound up in the Confiteria Nacional. They have a fun ticket system, where you grab a ticket, and wait to be called before you get your pastries. It seemed very popular, and claim a century-old history. I can’t understand Portuguese, so I didn’t do the ticket thing. But they do have a little snack/cafeteria thing on the upper level, which is less busy, and offers some amazing views of Rossio Square. I went with the patented pointing method, and got myself a Portuguese egg tart, and a latte for 2.40 EUR. I also lucked out, as a lady vacated a prime window spot, so I colonized that, and did some reading for an hour.

Lisbon

Lisbon

After an early dinner, I decided to just stroll around, and ended up walking up Chiado, much of it was closed due to it being Christmas eve. As I slowly moved down Chiado, and ended up on a tram stop, I saw tram 28 (a recommended tram) pull into a tram station. I had designated it for the next day, but what the heck? I jumped onto the rather empty tram 28, and enjoyed the ride, as it wound up Alfama neighborhood. I enjoyed how closed in the buildings are, and how narrow the streets are.

Lisbon

It being the holidays, the trams are actually on shortened service, so before I knew it, I was making my way back to town on foot (I was actually waiting for a tram down, but after 20 mins, I gave up, walked from station to station, and before I knew it, I was back in town). The leisurely stroll probably took about 40 mins. The stroll down was actually quite easy and enjoyable, but some poor tourists were actually making their way up, and one lady was actually walking up the uneven streets barefoot, while her husband carried her heels. I hope their accommodations aren’t too far up!

Lisbon

Costs

Metro Day Pass: 6 EUR

Coffee Break: 2.40 EUR + 3 EUR

Dinner: 4.30 EUR

Accommodation: 27 EUR (I stayed at a 4-star hotel)

Total: ~ 43 EUR

Panama: Panama City, 04 September 2015

I actually had no plans for the day, as I was staying at Waldorf Astoria, and really just planned to swim at the pool, and get some work done.

Taxi

Well, transport situation from Tocumen International Airport to Panama City. Note to self: always follow the advice of other travelers. I went to a counter for authorized taxi, they waved a guy down, who wheeled my carry-on for like 50 yards to the taxi line outside, and then proceeded to demand for a tip. WTF. Alright, my fault, lesson learnt. Just walk straight to the taxi line outside, and look at the board for official rates.

When I was put into a big van, I was definitely nervous about being overcharged. Rates from the airport to the city are pegged at $30, and I was afraid the driver would insist I pay him more because he was driving a van. Thankfully, when he dropped me off in front of the hotel, there were no issues. I handed over $40, and he returned $10.

If you are trying to save some money, I heard reports about going up to the departures, and basically flagging down a cab dropping people off. Another more reliable option would be Uber, which puts the rate at $25.

Money

The USD is legal tender in Panama. No need to change money.

Costs:

“Tip”: $2

Taxi: $30

Hotel: $14  (89 USD – the 75 USD gift card I am expecting for this the promotion via Visa Signature Luxury Hotel)

Total: $ 46