Armenia, Karabakh and Georgia


My wife, Barbara, and I took a 12-day trip in September ’06 to Armenia and Karabakh (in Azerbaijan), plus an add-on of three nights in Georgia, through Levon Travel (1132 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale, CA 91202; 800/445-3866, www.levontravel.com).

The cost was $900 for Armenia, $450 for Georgia and $1,600 for air (from Tulsa to Tbilisi, Georgia, with return from Yerevan, Armenia). This included two meals a day and hotels.

When we booked the tour in June, we were told we would be at the Courtyard Marriott in Tbilisi and the Marriott in Yerevan. The Courtyard Marriott in Tbilisi was excellent. When we got to Yerevan we were placed in the Ani Plaza, with all the meals there. While it is a 4-star hotel, I found it no comparison to the Marriott.

When we questioned these accommodations, the Levon Travel manager there told us we didn’t pay for the Marriott. After we showed him our written confirmation listing the Marriott, he sent us a bowl of fruit the next day.

The guides and drivers were excellent. We were the only ones on the Georgia extension. Tbilisi is a beautiful city with many beautiful churches and buildings. The second day in Georgia, we visited Mtskheta, Gori, which was Stalin’s birthplace, and Uplistsikhe cave town.

The schedule in Armenia, also an interesting country, was well planned and included a number of day trips out of Yerevan. Our bus in Armenia had a toilet on it to be used. We had asked Levon Travel about toilets and were told there were Western-style toilets everyplace, but we did not find that to be the case.

The unrecognized republic of Nagorno-Karabakh is an Armenian-speaking region which unilaterally broke from Azerbaijan in 1991 and fought a war for four years, a cease-fire being signed in 1994.

Our guide on the trip to Karabakh couldn’t speak much English and didn’t try much when the others in the group, who were Armenian-Americans, were around. The trip there took much too long, 10 hours, as our van didn’t leave until 10:30 a.m., the road was difficult and we spent two hours for a lunch stop. We found facilities in Karabakh to be rather primitive.

All three countries are well worth visiting, if you do not mind some difficult travel and are careful with whom the tour is booked.

JOHN THEIS

Broken Arrow, OK