Blogs from Azerbaijan, Asia - page 3

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Asia » Azerbaijan » Baku July 27th 2016

I know, Azerbaijan is not in the Stans or either Central Asia....so little side trip. I did visit Georgia and Armenia with the kids two years ago. We drove all the way back from Yerevan to Tbilisi. But you do not cross that easily from the Christian Armenia to the Muslim Azerbaijan, both country being still officially at war. So this time, in between two entries in Kazakhstan, here I am in Baku. I applied for an electronic visa for 50usd. Pretty easy affair. I took my 3 hours direct flight from Astana on Air Astana. The flight was full, but the service was pretty impressive....way better than I expected. I'm staying at the Sheraton Baku Airport. This has nothing fascinating. But I'm landing just before midnight, and it doesn't feel that bad to walk straight ... read more
That was a hike all the way up here...
Old City main tower
Old City

Asia » Azerbaijan » Baku June 30th 2016

Thursday June 30/Friday July 1 - So Rasim picked me up a little early, at 4:30pm, and then we were away driving towards the petroglyphs. It was quite a ways away, just under an hour or so. On the way there we past some highly secured areas for BP, as they seem to do all the drilling here. There is oil everywhere. When we got there, we found it was closed. Such a bummer - I didn't even realize it would be a place that could close. I figured it was just some drawings in the rocks somewhere. Rasim talked to the guy and said we could come back a bit later and give him a small bribe to get in. So we headed off to the mud volcanoes. Very cool to see actually. Unlike the ... read more
Mud volcanoes
Mud volcanoes
Mud volcanoes

Asia » Azerbaijan » Baku June 26th 2016

Sunday June 26 - I didn't sleep well last night and was up by 5:30, still packing and sorting. Poor Jeroen, having to hear all of that. I also had a weird incident with my cat. She was playing with a plastic bag, which she loves, and found herself stuck it in. This caused her to run like mad and luckily I saw what was happening and caught her as she flew out of the bedroom door. I was able to get the bag off but she scratched my finger in a couple places when I caught her. Band-aid required. Jeroen and I walked to the tram stop but saw the bus coming and had a quick good bye instead. I decided to take the bus to the other tram to be faster. I left at ... read more
A view from my street - those are the Flame towers
Entrance to the little street I take to get to the old town
Gate to old town near shiny metro on left

Asia » Azerbaijan » Baku October 29th 2015

The largest city in the South Caucasus region is a controversial place. On one side there is a huge contrast with the rest of the country in terms of education and living standards. While Baku received huge investments and has a relatively high standard of living, the provinces seem forgotten. On the other side its abundant architectural heritage is selectively evaluated and reconstructed. Neoclassical Fin de Si├Ęcle buildings and most of the medieval Old Town are luxuriously refurbished, while typical Caucasian residential buildings with wooden balconies and small vineyards are left to decay. Urbanism Located on the Absheron Peninsula, Baku is surrounded by the Caspian sea to the south, a series of lakes to the north, and hills both east and west. The city center is a compact urban settlement with an orthogonal street grid with ... read more
Urban Taxis
Nizami street
Baku Opera House

Asia » Azerbaijan September 9th 2015

Geo: 41.2019, 47.17560810 Wednesday: The Olympic Park Hotel ShekiUp and about: we are billeted in a "sports 5 star hotel"....Azerbaijan seems to lay claim to the Olympics at every opportunity.........The Olympic Conference Centre.....park.......restaurant.....hotels......schools.......When did Azerbaijan last host the Olympics.....?....Our Hotel is acceptable, but it's is not not 5 star as proudly proclaimed by the State Hotel Ministry. We are the only guests which is spooky and reminiscent of the film "The Shining". We finally arrived in pitch black at about 2130hrs after a "convivial" group dinner in an open air town centre restaurant . I sat opposite two mature ladies who "loosened up" after a bottle of local plonk and took great delight in trying to find out how I "ticked". They obviously don't have much contact wit... read more
a Christian Church in a Muslim culture
No thanks!
En route to Sheki

Asia » Azerbaijan September 7th 2015

Geo: 40.3834, 49.8932Time check: 0750 local but 3:50am UK. Dawn broke at around 0700hrs. The sky is blue and tinged with a golden hue. A haze is already gathering over the Caspian Sea just visible from our room on the 8th floor of the Central Park Hotel. The surrounding buildings are an eclectic mix of rather ornate white high rise Middle Eastern style apartments interspersed with older Russian style colonial properties sporting little domes and pointy spires. First impressions of the City are one of an oil boom fuelled benevolent oligarchy. The President's name is festooned on every concert hall, sports stadium and cultural centre. Last night we passed along magnificent boulevards lined with fountains and topiary. The state run petrol station are works of art in themselves........not a Wild Bean Cafe in sight!A quick glance ... read more
Our Hotel
Local police vehicle
Amazing Flame Towers

Asia » Azerbaijan » Baku September 7th 2015

Geo: 40.3787, 49.84010600hrs Sadly Figaro our "adopted fig" has found all the travelling too much as has prematurely ripened....he was found last night alone and squashed in his little plastic bag. Pips were spilling from a nasty wound to his lower abdomen and Cathy was forced to eat him to save him any more suffering.........the good news is that we have discovered he has many relatives locally willing to take on his role.Today is a big sight seeing day and Gourban our chirpy was determined to throw the very best Bakuvian sights at us.0815: Cathy finally gets up....."we are to be away by 0900hrs!!!!!" I gruffly remark fearing fearing the breakfast buffet would be decimated by the "GROUP"......we managed to cram down an eclectic mix of olives, farmyard strong cheese and halal sausages......... 0900hrs our bus ... read more
Full English
Mosque
Sunrise from our Hotel

Asia » Azerbaijan » Baku August 8th 2015

So we made it to azerbaijan eventually. We're settled in a hostel for the second night now and we're just waiting for a ferry to take us to Kazakhstan. Though it's a little frustrating not being able to leave, it does mean I finally have time to write a long blog post, so here goes ... My last blog was from the west coast of Georgia. Having not had the greatest opinion of Batumi, my opinion of Tbilisi could not be more different. We drove across Georgia on some interesting roads to say the least thanks to our questionable sat nav. Tbilisi is the capital of Georgia and a genuinely great place. We arrived to a welcoming hostel host who showed us the highlights and where we should eat etc. We then went for a meal ... read more
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Asia » Azerbaijan » Seki October 16th 2014

Baku October 9, 2014 We arrived in Baku, Azerbaijan, on this special day, Ian's birthday, having had four nights in home stays. We have a complete private apartment which is a bit of luxury after sharing people's homes. I have really enjoyed the home stays. They are definitely harder work and to a large extent you have accept what is there when it appears. Our first stop was in Sheki (Saki, Seki). We had made contact with Ilqar Agayev (ilqaragayev77@hotmail.com) from his Lonely Planet references. We took a taxi to his street and before we had hardly disembarked a gentlemen had grabbed our bags and was taking us to his house. From his doorstep we phoned to Ilqar and he explained that he had put us with this gentlemen as his guests with a small child ... read more
Butcher in Sheki market
Ducks, chickens, rabbits and turkeys
The 'Albanian' church in Kish near Sheki

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




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