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Published: August 12th 2007
Before leaving for Azerbaijan I stayed with Irena again for a few days...
So what is Azerbaijan all about? Well it is the Caucasus but in a Muslim way... This means they still are crazy and hospitable and you will be invited for vodka like elsewhere in these parts, only the amounts are slightly less and they do it less conspicuous. You won't see much in the way of women covering their hair or anything else obviously Islamic, the Soviets made sure of that during their time here. It is more secular than Turkey for instance and the people less religious... But still you won't see many people wearing shorts either, but that may just be a cultural thing.
And what have I been doing, besides sampling the local cuisine and beer?
Well I started off in Zaqatala staying in a motel with an ensuite bathroom, but without water, which made the whole bathroom thing rather pointless... But they were nice enough to throw in a free meal for the inconvenience...
Than I went to Seki and stayed in the much raved about Caravanseray, which is indeed a nice place to stay the night and cheap for what you get. Unfortunately the restaurant in the garden of the hotel is a
From left to right, back row: Ofir, Irena, James and Alexandra.. Front row: Me and Alex
real rip off! After recovering from the initial shock of the bill, I was stung by wasp, of which there were plenty... So you could say I was stung twice that evening, once by the restaurant and once by nature... This was the start of a two day period of bad luck! The next day I tried to get to Qabala, but after a 3 hour wait for the bus, the driver told me I couldn't get on because it was full... So I took a bus to Baku instead, got out of the bus, promptly twisted my ankle when walking of a rather high sidewalk (I was looking for a street sign so didn't see the end of the sidewalk)... I landed on my swollen (from the wasp sting) hand and as I lie there on the road helpless like a beached whale (think of a grown man with a huge backpack on his back and a smaller daypack in the front trying to get up with a twisted ankle and you get the picture..) I wondered what the hell I was doing it all for... Some helpful people in the crowd picked me up, but I had to
On the way to Azerbaijan stopped in Telavi to visit Alaverdi Cathedral
take a taxi to my hotel as I couldn't walk... He off course overcharged me, being the taxi driver that he is (make use of others peoples misery seems to be their motto...) I finaly made it to aircondition heaven and just lay in my bed contemplating my next move...
The next day I took it realy easy.. I met Katherine and Sam in the hotel and we went to a Zoroastrian fire temple and to Qobustan to see some petroglyphs, faded Roman graffiti and farting mud volcanoes.
Then I went with them to Lahic, an old coppersmith town in the mountains, where we stayed at a great family home stay.
Next, I left them, as they were heading for Tbilisi and I went to Quba and than Xinaliq, one of the most beautiful mountain villages I have seen so far... The setting is incredible, the people very authentic and the sheepdogs fierce (except the one with a lame leg...but he tried...)
And now I am back in Baku... Tonight I will drink my last beer for a while to come, as tomorrow I head into the dry lands called Iran!!
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