Blogs from Baku, Azerbaijan, Asia

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Asia » Azerbaijan » Baku October 16th 2014

On the ferry off Baku October 13, 2014 It is a beautiful day and we lie anchored off Baku on our Caspian cruise. We are sitting on a wooden bench with the expanse of the city laid out before us around the bay. As we face West the flag square and Flame towers are on the left. The old city is crowded out by new tower blocks. The docks are to the North. Most places you look there are signs of construction no just of any old buildings but impressive modern architecture. As we have discovered Baku is changing every week. It is certainly set to continue to do so with many major projects underway. The guidebook, LP or local and even the internet, just can not keep up. The transformation from Lahich is stark. The ... read more
The Flame Towers from the Maiden Tower
The new Carpet Museum
Traditional houses in old Baku

Asia » Azerbaijan » Baku May 20th 2014

Sheki If it is a border crossing day, it must be raining! Another border crossing in the rain. That makes five in a row. The contrast between Tbilisi and the rest of Georgia is huge. Tbilisi is full of BMWs and Mercedes. The country side is less full of old and unrecognizable vevicles and the Sprinter van minibuses with crazy drivers. The country side looks quite poor and provided new traffic hazards to avoid - horse and donkey carts in abundance, and a few tractors with very wide plows. We have seen a few carts before, but today there were dozens hauling all kinds of farm stuff. The Azerbaijan border crossing was less trouble than Georgia. In Azerbaijan almost everybody waves or honks or flashes their lights. Lots of school kids were taking pictures with their ... read more

Asia » Azerbaijan » Baku May 13th 2014

They looked edible. Like strawberry-laced fondant, the so called candy-cane mountains go best with a bowl of smooth vanilla ice-cream and a dollop of cream. One of the most bizarre and random sites we have ever seen, we were taken back by these bizarre accidental desserts of nature. Today was our last day in Azerbaijan and we were faced with a tough choice. Laze about in the hotel till noon and then meander in the local museum. Or get up real early and drive out to the candy cane mountains - a single sentence in the lonely planet that the majority of travelers probably wouldn't notice. They had grabbed my attention though because we had been hoping to visit a similar type of freak of nature in Turkmenistan. We decided on the latter, so after a ... read more
Candy Cane Mountains
Candy Cane Mountains
Candy Cane Mountains

Asia » Azerbaijan » Baku May 12th 2014

Driving gives you so much more freedom - freedom to explore, freedom to discover, and as we quickly discovered this morning, freedom to get completely and utterly lost. Today, the plan was simple - hire a car, drive about 1.5 hours south to see mud volcanoes and prehistoric cave paintings, drive another 1.5 hours to see a mountain that has been on fire for 50 years, and then if time allows it, see some old Zoroastrian fire temple. And do all of that without a map. Simple no? Luckily the rental car guy recommended getting a GPS. I've never trusted a GPS in my life, preferring good old paper maps and the old nose to direct myself. But our lack of maps of Azerbaijan suggested GPS would be a good idea. Alas, the stupid GPS proved ... read more
The land of oil derricks
Qobustan petroglpyhs - dancing men
Qobustan petroglpyhs - dancing men, reindeers at the bottom

Asia » Azerbaijan » Baku May 11th 2014

For some idiotic reason I've always had a long standing desire to visit Azerbaijan. I have no idea what triggered the interest, but somehow that little country hanging off the Caspian sea has always stuck out like a sore thumb on maps and beckoned to me. So I was thrilled that one of the better flights that would take us to Iran was Azerbaijan airlines, giving us an excuse to stop over for 3 days on the way back. We arrived from Iran at 4am in Azerbaijan to an empty and rather gruff airport. The staff were sleepy and definitely not smiley. A stark difference to the warm hellos we encountered in Iran. We were heading into the soviet part of the world obviously. I made a blunder with our taxi driver that didn't help in ... read more
Old Baku
Old Baku
Tour de Azerbaijan

Asia » Azerbaijan » Baku December 19th 2013

I began to pass through a back street of Baku, edging my way past some parked Ladas. Across the road, a large woman wearing a headscarf was leading a small child by the hand, and above me, leaning over an upstairs balcony was a middle-aged man in a string vest, smoking a cigarette. I carried on past them until I came to another narrow street filled with fruit and vegetable shops. It was just near a huge sandstone-coloured mosque with gorgeous golden domes. I noticed an overflowing bin with a clear plastic bag tied to one end. The bag contained pieces of bread. I’d already read about this strange custom, which had nothing to do with how full the bin was. Bread was regarded as a holy thing in Azerbaijan and could not be discarded with ... read more
The old town of Baku
Side street
The Russian Churh

Asia » Azerbaijan » Baku September 12th 2013

The bike ride from Tbilisi in Georgia to Baku in Azerbaijan, even though not the most physically challenging, was the one that hurt me the most. Unbearable heat leading to dehydration, mad drivers, my bike not functioning 100 % and the final straw; finding the contents of my handlebar bag (mobile phone, i-pod and headphones) covered in gooey magnesium sulphate (paste for minor abrasions etc) made for the worst 5 days of my trip so far. I was glad to book into the hostel in Baku and grab a shower. I was sorry to say good bye to Georgia. I had had such a good time in this country visiting beautiful places and meeting up with wonderful people in Batumi as well as Tbilisi. I chose to ride to the northern border of Georgia/Azerbaijan hoping that ... read more
5 days of camping
Azerbaijan Border Good Luck
Gas pipe lines everywhere

Asia » Azerbaijan » Baku June 3rd 2013

The Pleasure of Good Neighbors I think almost a miracle must have happened to get me this flat: good price, great location, and, as I have discovered, really nice neighbors, including my landlord and landlady. I must admit, when we first drove up to this place that first Friday, I thought it looked a bit like a shanty town (actually, I still kind of do, but the inside of my room is nice, and there are children around, which I take as fun and a good sign). Several evenings, my landlady has popped by, and she’s always friendly. The neighborhood children run around and play like scamps. The odd board blocking the path to my flat and two others functions as a playpen, and I’ve concluded that the random series of knocks on doors is probably ... read more

Asia » Azerbaijan » Baku May 29th 2013

I'll be staying in Baku for an internship my second summer of law school. Since I have to blog for that, I figured I'd post my entries here as well. Since the college trips recounted here, I've worked, lived (and worked) back in Russia, and completed two years of law school. Also, just to note, I have no idea why I had to select Asia as the continent to find Azerbaijan; it's west of the Urals, so it could be Europe, and it's south enough that it could be considered Middle East. It's Asian in the sense of that's what the Romans would have called here... :-/ The morning after I landed I was wide awake sometime between four and five, despite hoping that I’d beat the jet lag by staying up til midnight (conking out ... read more

Asia » Azerbaijan » Baku September 19th 2012

So I guess its been about 50 days since I have set foot in Azerbaijan, and this means its time for another blog update. The last month or so has been pretty damn crazy. A massive list of random things have occurred and also I learnt a hell of a lot more about surviving in Azerbaijan. Guess we can start with what happened around the 20th of last month. So I managed to get my self food poisoning, which was honestly the closest I have come to wanting to die on the spot. Thanks to the dam Turkish restaurant nearby I ended up spending 2 days alternating between lying in bed trying not to die and throwing up. Not a fun experience but at least Im a LOT more careful about what I eat now days. ... read more




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