Monday, December 27, 2010

Yerevan shopping guide for girls: New Year Sales edition 2010

Today I spent about 5 hours wandering on the streets of my byuuutiful festive Yerevan, doing my favorite money-spending activities: shopping for wearables and gifts. At first I was by myself, but I didn't feel alone, since I incidentally met dozen of friends on streets and inside stores. Some of them joined me for several stops. Others were following the same route so I kept seeing them behind the coats stand in one store and trying on some shoes in another :-D

Yes, I'm a shopaholic and it's not news. It turned out that I've become some kind of a Yerevan shops guide for my friends. I'm constantly being asked where to buy shoes, or dresses or where are sales in the city. Not that I go and constantly check out every store :) It's just that I walk a lot and communicate with lots of people and since it's an area of my interest, I'm kinda more informed than average. This is why I decided to share this information with my readers, hoping it might help them!
a tiresome shopping in Italy :))

Taking into account my recent trip to Rome, which was also successful in terms of shopping (there were no sales just yet though :( ), my appetite is still quite full now. I haven't been eagerly waiting for the sales this year and just needed to refill my footwear collection (which can never be enough, you know :D) and buy something new for the NY parties :)..

Enough about me and let's proceed with the tips that will include some FAQs I get from my friends considering shopping.

Today, during my 5 hour shopping trip, I managed to visit the following stores (there is the discounts info, not entirely precise however). If I knew then, that I'll be blogging about it, I'd be more attentive to the numbers.
  • Benetton (no sale)
  • Next (up to 30% partly)
  • Promod (up to 50% partly)
  • Mango (Tumanyan, Abovyan) (up to 50%)
  • Mexx (up to 30%?)
  • Motivi (up to 50%)
  • Debenhams (25% sales were just for Dec. 25, 26)
  • Chocco (up to 30%?)
  • For Love 21 (no sale)
  • Papagallo (50% but were limited to this weekend i guess)
  • Basic House (up to 50%)
  • Terranova/Oggi (up to 50%)
Stores I missed but are also worth checking: Morgan de Toi, Punto Zara, Giordano, 3 Suisses, Bossini, Kira Plastinina, Extyn, Josef, Guess, Garderobe, Max & Co, Ecco & Clarks and also Steve Madden and Paolo Boticelli for shoes, those several boutiques on Parpetsi street, that do not fit to my style and pocket, but you might want to check them too.

Now, some words about several boutiques.

Benetton, the United Colors of
Possibly my all time favorite brand. Keywords: mystyle, italian, colorful, expensive. Benetton's shoes and boots are my (wallet's) guilty pleasure... :)

The store
The store in Yerevan is far from being nice for a shopping experience. I don't like the staff - they are never helpful. If you pick some clothes to try on, then you have to hang them somewhere yourself, no one comes for help. They never tell about the possible discount options and sale dates. It's a challenge to ask for shoe sizes too. I've been asked to go and check one by one myself (even on mannequins!)
Besides, these days I was about to write a petition or even write to the Benetton's general management, because of the wrong management strategy of the local franchiser.
They only bring very limited sizes and colors of the shoes so that there's practically nothing left in weeks. I suffer for weeks, deciding whether I should buy those extra expensive but uber stylish shoes and when I've finally made up my mind - all I get is just the least nice color and several options for 40+ sizes. Most footwear models disappear in all sizes before the sale date comes. I see they are very popular among wealthy Yerevan citizens and they would have noticed this too! Would it bother them to bring some more pairs??! Oh yes, I'm frustrated :|

What to buy
Holiday greetings on Benetton's FB page
Cute and quality shoes, underwear, trendy tights, shirts, and almost everything else from clothing.

Sales, Discounts
The bad news is - there is no holiday sale currently. If i'm not mistaken, last year a 20% sale started sometime around January 20. So hold on, if you can :)

But there's some good news ! A year ago I signed for a bonus card, which was also advertised in Benetton then, and it provided a 10% permanent discount on everything. Quite a meaningful discount especially for some 80K shoes :) Check for details.

They provide a 10-15% discount card if you make a 150K+ shopping at once. I've been told that one could also keep the checks and collect them to make 150K for getting that card.

There's some 10-15% discount when buying with credit cards of certain banks like HSBC, Converse Bank, Ameriabank etc.

Benetton cookies that look like delicious octopuses :))
Benetton has always been one of the most creative brands in terms of marketing and advertising. If you go to their website now, you'll see some goodies, like for example these cookies. I'm going to cook them soon ;)

Next (
This UK brand's store is quite popular in Yerevan. What's particular to this store is their gift suggestions. Current you can buy some nicely gift-wrapped nightwear and slippers. The staff is generally nice and helpful. Not very full these days.

What to buy
some cute slippers in Next
Shoes, bags, purses and other accessories, socks and tights, slippers, and jeans.

Discount, sales
Their sales dates are not very predictive and the current holiday sales are limited to shoes only. At least it was where I saw the 30% sign.

No info if they have discount cards. There are nice gift cards, though.

Mango (since 1984)
This is my favorite brand for practically everything. And I guess it's the favorite one also for the major part of females in Yerevan. The first days of the sales is a total madness, to say the least. There are long queues at the fitting rooms, checkout and even at the doorsteps. Everything gets messy inside and some shoppers (a big part I'd say) become like zombies (a swarm of locusts is a more precise definition), going through others' heads, stepping on anything to pick the desired thing just TO SEE it.

What to buy
I'm generally dressed there. I buy the basics like dresses, skirts, shorts, tops, glasses, sometimes coats, suits and shoes too.

Sales, Discounts
The sale was announced on December 23 (I'm subscribed to the newsletter, of course :) and I got an SMS on that day (I guess I've left my contacts there when they had those subscribe cards at the checkout).
So the best way to be notified about the sales is to subscribe to their news.
They always start their sales before NY holidays (sometimes from 25%, however this year it was < 50% right away). The sale will continue for weeks, turning to 70% at a point. It's still possible to find goodies by then :)

I have no idea if they have discount cards and it's likely that they don't. If they do, why don't I have it yet?? If you know anything about it, share in comments :)

Some precious tips

#1. Mango is the only brand I know that has their entire collection on the website for browsing and online shopping (limited countries). (go to and select a country, i usually go for Italy/English/)
You can easily navigate through various garments, check the collection and find out that other colors can the current item have. You can find the major part (if not entirely) of what's displayed on the website in our local stores.

#2. Since their sales dates are quite predictable, I'd suggest you to go check out the collection in the store once in a while. If you don't have something you have to buy immediately, you might want to try on things you like and leave them for buying when the sale comes. Since their collection is huge, chances are you'll be able to find your desired item in your size during the sales. And while it's almost not possible to wait in the line for trying them on, you might win a valuable time and precious nerve cells skipping that part. I have never waited in the line for trying on things during this sales shopping period. Partly, because I know my precise size for everything and mainly because I've tried on enough things to be sure that I won't regret about buying them like that, right away.
Mango Newsletter

#an interesting fact: During the recent years of shopping, me and my sis have collected an unbelievably crazy amount of branded paper bags, in their excellent condition :) for some unknown reason we didn't trash them immediately. During this new year spring cleaning, my sis sorted them by brands, and those that counted a few dozen (Mango was the absolute winner), she decided to take to the store. We didn't believe they would accept them, but it was worth the try. My sister came back from Mango really happy, because they not only accepted them back, but also gave a small reward in the form of a winter handbag :) The Mango staff is great (they even do recognize my face, you know :D) and we definitely LOVE MANGO.

Promod (nouveau!)
This French brand's recently opened boutique was won my heart. It's very favorably located and can be compared to Mango with prices and partly also with style.

What to Buy
Scarves, bijoux, fashion tights, jackets, dresses, jeans...

The sales started few days ago and they are up to 50%, however not on the entire collection. Actually, I was walking with my friend, passing the Promod store couple of days ago wondering out loud if they plan to start their sales. We had our spiced tea in ArtBridge and when we were walking back, we noticed that the % signs were already sticked to the glasses. THEY HEARD ME.

Debenhams (in front of Eritasardakan metro station)

Debenhams is a department store from UK that was just recently opened also in Yerevan. The store is quite big and not very crowded. They have a big choice of shoes, handbags and lingerie. Strangely, I didn't buy anything while i spent about half an hour there today. They are a bit overpriced and the collections' style is not really mine. When you go, check out the "Home" section (very small though) on the 2nd floor. There were really nice bed linens, shovels, candles and other stuff.

The Armenian store has a Facebook page, where they announce about sales. 25% discount was for December 25,26 only, however they have announced on the page, that there will soon be a NY sale also.

Benefit from discount cards
I've had this terrific idea since long ago, now i'm finally sharing it. I think to create a FB group where we could share our discount cards and coupons for shops. Declare the ones we have and lend to others when they need it. It will especially be great for accumulative cards. For example, I have 10% discount card for Mexx and 20% for Motivi and I'll be happy to lend them.

As I have mentioned in Benetton's case, there is this that might be handy :)

Some banks like HSBC, Converse Bank, Ameriabank have fixed sales with their credit cards. Be sure to check with your bank for them.

Check also They have information about sales in several boutiques and gallery of the items.

One more tip
If you doubt to buy *it* or not, I have a tip for you. What I usually do in those cases is - going out and watching other stuff for a while (can be some hours or days, depending on the probability of it to be sold out during that period). If I still remember about it and it's on my mind - I should go and get it ASAP! It has been several times that I was checking the store's opening hour and rushing there in the morning to buy the thing that had occupied all my mind at night :D

This one is from a piece of writing that was meant to be published written back in March, 2009. However I changed my mind limiting its audience to my friends only then. Needs editing but some stuff is not yet outdated there :))

Some more shopping tips from Averik on (in Russian).

You may share your information and tips on the subject, I'll update the post with them :))

Happy shoppppiiing!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Every Path is the Right Path". Mr Nobody, the movie

I can't watch movies at home in the recent months. When I have the luxury of a spare time, I prefer reading or writing. Even when I try to force myself to watch one of those highly recommended movies, i stop when i realize, that after watching it, the direction of my thoughts will change and my brain will be occupied analyzing it. Sometimes I don't need new thoughts and ideas, because I still need to deal with the existing ones.
Last week I got sick and spent more than 2 days in bed. I couldn't read, write or even watch a movie. I did nothing but suffering from a headache and cold. When I felt a little better, I realized that it's THE time. And Mr Nobody was it.

the trailer:

This is one of the greatest movies I've seen in life. It's dealing with some of my favorite topics and featuring my favorite musician, actor and sweetheart Jared Leto and the fabulous Diane Kruger.
I'm a Jared Leto 'witness'

Here are my favorite quotes from the film.
still from the movie: Nemo (Mr Nobody) and Anna (one of his choices)
“There comes a time in life where everything seems narrow. Choices have been made. I can only continue on. I know myself like the back of my hand. I can predict my every reaction. My life has been cast in cement with airbags and seatbelts. I've done everything to reach this point and now that I'm here, I'm fucking bored. The hardest thing is knowing whether I'm still alive.”
The movie brings the hope that no matter what choice we make it is not the consequences that make our decision the right one. It is US. And the appreciation and the gratitude of what we have experienced. No matter if it is bad or good, positive or negative. We need to appreciate our feelings for the sake of feeling.
Every path is the right path. Everything could have been everything else and it will have just as much meaning.
I often start imagining various possibilities like "if I'd done this instead"... various outcomes of my choices. Sometimes I can feel those experiences just by imagining them in details. It's when I realize that I didn't miss anything and I never really regret about my choices.
Before he was unable to make a choice because he didn't know what would happen. Now that he knows what will happen, he is unable to make a choice.

If you liked The Butterfly Effect, Vanilla Sky and Wicker Park, you'll definitely enjoy this movie! The futuristic scenes on Mars and on the way to it are just awesome. It's also worth seeing how the world in 2092 is described.
We cannot go back. That's why it's hard to choose. You have to make the right choice. As long as you don't choose, everything remains possible.

Monday, December 6, 2010

My new passion: VESPA

this post has been draft for more than 2 months, I couldn't get myself finish it the way I wanted and was about to cancel, but changed my mind just about now :)

Sean Jordan's Vespa and me!
Derek Sivers, in a hilarious short talk from the TED stage, says that we should keep our goals to ourselves.
I do truly believe him. Even though i have always thought that if I am telling someone about my plans, i'm feeling sort of a responsibility towards my plan and accountability to the person I'm telling. But every often when planning something it happens that I'm visualizing it so well, squeezing all the possible positive emotions from just the thought of it, that I no longer feel the need of actually realizing it. Like I have got enough joy just even thinking about it, that after now i have less motivation to accomplish it in reality.

But here, I'm gonna reveal one of my plans, which I'm accountable to few people. These are kind of friends, whom I won't be trying to disappoint or let down.

As someone who's known of loving everything Italian, I must state that I have found another proof of greatness of my favorite nation. They produce awesome scooters! and Vespa being the greatest brand of them.

Carlo's scooter back in 2008, in Genova
It all started when I noticed the strange (for Europe) lack of bicycles in Italy and the plenty of small vehicles that looked different from motorbikes and easier to ride. Then on my 2nd trip to Italy I met Carlo and we made a "giro" on his scooter around Genova and across the Ligurian sea shore... That was truly unforgettable. The first thought I had after that ride was "I'm gonna get one at home!".

My sister has been convincing me to start saving money for a car. I knew i can't save that much money and besides, one car won't be enough for the two of us. I don't like cars much, but for the recent months I've started to feel the terrible lack of a personal vehicle. and I remembered Vespa... started a basic research and found out that there are no Vespas in Yerevan. No one imports them, because they are expensive. There are scooters of Chinese production that are currently in use by local pizza/shaurma delivery services but are not reliable.

Just in the middle of this research i got to meat Sean. A Canadian from Hungary traveling around the world on his old-style Vespa. I told him about my passion and he convinced me that I should definitely get one. When we met, he offered me a ride around Yerevan, so that I could feel how it is to drive a Vespa in Yerevan.
Needless to say, that experience was plain awesome! Of course we got some attention (maybe I shouldn't be wearing those heels :D) and probably it will be much more intense when I drive it alone, but it was not as difficult with local drivers as I thought it would be.

Vespa is a very popular brand.
in La Feltrinelli, buying Vespa merch. :)
During my trip to Italy, I saw so many Vespas, that I couldn't help but wonder: how much time will it take until scooters become a popular transport mean for Yerevan residents? Sooner of later they will, because of the increasing traffic. Inevitably. Maybe I should contact Vespa for establishing a local dealership :)
in Trastevere..

this was the most awesome Vespa I saw in Rome
This one is just the best!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My 2-day road trip. Day 2 - the free Artsakh welcomes us (part 1)

You may read about the Day 1 here then go on with this :)

I'm not the same person after this trip.. I've got lots of answers to questions about that territory i had in my head, but also, more questions popped out in my head...

I've always felt guilty and underprivileged for not having visited the historical Armenian land of  Artsakh. It wasn't that hard to do, and there have been many occasions. The majority of my friends has been constantly going there, but somehow I wasn't lucky with it. I've been encouraging the tourists to visit it, while myself... well.

Now I'm actually glad that all the other opportunities to visit Artsakh before didn't work out. I'm happy I visited it in November for the first time and with someone who had lots of details and stories about these places to tell.

The first thing I saw in Artsakh was the Lachin/Berdzor corridor.. long, curvy road we passed by the dark, seeing the "Free Artsakh welcomes you" signs which made me feel very positive :)
source: Wikipedia
There wasn't much to be seen in the dark and it took about 2,5 hours to reach the capital Stepanakert. We stopped at the Armenia hotel in the main square, just near the newly reconstructed Parliament building.
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic's Parliament building
The hotel was really nice and comfortable with almost all rooms occupied.
Hotel Armenia
In the morning we had a small walk in the city center...

A cute elderly couple strolling on the square
it was really touching
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic's Government building
a new fancy park with free wi-fi in the center of Stepanakert!
 And here I finally met THEM. Grandmother and Grandfather (Տատիկ և պապիկ). The landmark, the symbol of the high spirit of this brave nation. Also known as the "We Are Our Mountains" monument representing the mountain people of Karabakh.
We Are Our Mountains
me and Papik :) (tatik didn't mind)
We left Stepanakert to go deeper into the beautiful and forested mountains of Artsakh. The weather was perfect. It was much warmer than in Yerevan. I've been regretting that I didn't wear a plain thin shirt.
The whole way I was staring at the autumn landscapes and layers of endless mountains all around... The roads were in a very good condition (North-South Highway constructed with the help of Armenians of the world).
Most of the time I was just smiling to the contrary wind and sun through the open window, sometimes taking pictures right during the drive.

The whole way I was hearing stories from the war, about the land mines, about the battles. Even though there are not so many evidences left from that bloody time, you can feel the cost... the reason why this land was worth fighting for and liberating.

Our destination was Gandzasar.. A truly magical place. A magnificent 13th century monastery located on the hilltop near the Vank village.

a cemetery. graves of those who gave their lives for liberating their land
On the way here I heard the story about how the monastery's priest solely protected the church when the enemy attacked it before our soldiers came for help during the war.
Vank village seen from the monastery
On this image you can actually see the holes made by enemy's bullets. The monastery stands still and reaffirms firmness of faith.
the monastery had amazing and unique carvings

The one thing that amazed me most about this place was the overwhelming feeling of sanctity - peace and silence.

Chilingaryan family tree
i had a very peaceful time on this bench for a while

inside the church

Second part of my (mostly photo) story about Artsakh is here.