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Published: September 30th 2017
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
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 ...
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