BL #59: Find the Mediterranean Version of Paris

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Asia » Azerbaijan
August 30th 2014
Published: September 30th 2017
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Haast Beaches Haast Beaches Haast Beaches

Long stretches of untouched Beaches
Geo: 40.3834, 49.8932

Talking to fellow travelers coming from Azerbaijan, descriptions of Baku have been vague, at best. "Different" ... "interesting" ... "unique" ... "you have to see it for yourself" ... none of these descriptors sounded all that appealing, and none of them gave a very good impression of the place. As is common in this part of the World, there are distinctly different facets to any big city, which I was slowly introduced to as I made my way into Baku by marshrutka, and finally into the centre via taxi.

It started with the urban sprawl of the suburbs, then the mild chaos of the bus station located on the outskirts of the city proper, through some brutal traffic congestion, and finally to the old town. First impressions - even on the outskirts, Baku is definitely a lot more developed than its capital city counterparts in the Caucasus, probably a result of the oil money that has flowed through Azeri banks since the 1800s. You get a much better sense of the degree of oil money coursing through Baku the closer and closer you get to the centre.

Baku's old town is pretty cool - there isn't much in the way of sights, but it's quite pretty and well-maintained. However, things get more interesting as you step out of the old town and into the modern part of Baku's centre, and find yourself in a very uniquely beautiful spot. Between the architecture and the vibe, there's something very pleasant about a stroll through this part of Baku - it feels instantly recognizable, though you can't quite place your finger on exactly why that may be.

It took a little while, but I finally figured out what feels so familiar about Baku - it actually reminds me of Paris, though the palm trees and sunny Mediterranean weather constantly tell you that it isn't! Much of Baku's architecture is done in a Neoclassical style, but with a distinctly Azeri spin to it - quite striking really, especially with the beautifully-patterned tiles found in Baku's pedestrian zone, which have a bit of a Spanish feel to it, like something you might find along the Costa Blanca in a city like Alicante.

The Parisian vibe is completed with some high-end shops, cafes, and restaurants sprinkled throughout the pedestrian zone, making for a pretty cool place to spend a few hours doing very little of anything. I
Flatland Flatland Flatland

Dairy Farming in the Flatlands
have a feeling I might get bored with Baku fairly quickly, but I've only got a few days here before heading home - it might just be the perfect place to actually relax and take a holiday, before returning to reality ...

Additional photos below
Photos: 24, Displayed: 23


Unique Architecture in Baku ...Unique Architecture in Baku ...
Unique Architecture in Baku ...

... buildings in the centre look European to me, almost resembling Neoclassicism straight out of Paris. A little Soviet-style sculpture makes the city even more striking.

Kahikatea Trees

any takers?any takers?
any takers?

thats what Bruce at Bruce Beach earlier today was talking about...
House Rules in HaastHouse Rules in Haast
House Rules in Haast

House Rules at the Pub in Haast...
Simple Mosque ...Simple Mosque ...
Simple Mosque ...

... for the most part, the style of mosques in the Old Town are quite austere, and not as ornate as others found around the World - of course, the Juma Mosque was an exception to this.
Sunrise in HaastSunrise in Haast
Sunrise in Haast

Early mornings are best ... even do it is kind of chilly here....
Heading east Heading east
Heading east

Leaving the West Coast on Hwy 6 towards Wanaka
Malokan Baghy ...Malokan Baghy ...
Malokan Baghy ...

... a green square surrounded by cafes, restaurants, and high-end shopping.

Moana and her Whitebait Patty's
Turkish Kofte Platter ...Turkish Kofte Platter ...
Turkish Kofte Platter ...

... at Tarihi Sultanahmet Koftecisi. A bit of a mess - the kofte didn't taste bad but was a bit rubbery, served with a watery tomato sauce, yogurt, cukes, and grilled tomato that wasn't really grilled. The "grilled bread" was more like croutons, albeit tasty. A bit of a forgettable dinner tonight.

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