Blogs from Azerbaijan, Asia - page 4

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Asia » Azerbaijan » Seki October 5th 2014

This blog is part technical to show people how easy it is to go from Telavi, Georgia to Saki, Azerbaijan (also spelt Seki and Sheki in Roman alphabet) and part a description of the wonders of slow travel. Our research the previous day, utilising a German traveller who spoke some Russian, had established that the marshrutka/minibus left Telavi for the border town of Lagodekhi at 8.30am. We made sure we got there for 8am to secure seats and room for our luggage. We bought hot pastries and bananas at the bazaar across the street for breakfast. As part of our preparation I had mapped out the route on paper with expected fares for each transport option (buses, marshrutkas, taxis) and downloaded the relevant maps on to my phone GPS so I could work out where we ... read more
On the edge of the market at Tsnori, Georgia
Passengers on the Saki marshrutka

Asia » Azerbaijan September 1st 2014

Geo: 40.0846, 49.4062The 'stans - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan - truth be told, for most people these countries are a great unknown, with the only images associated with these countries being of war-torn Afghanistan, and of Borat in what is supposedly Kazakhstan. Anecdotal evidence suggests that these can be pretty bizarre countries, and unlike any other places in the World - so even though the 'stans are colloquially accepted as the name for this region, I prefer to call it Bizarrastan.None of those countries are on the itinerary for this trip, so Azerbaijan will be as close as I get to Bizarrastan, even though the nearest two 'stans are only a short ferry ride away across the Caspian Sea. Of course, nothing is ever easy in Bizarrastan, so I don't think there are ... read more
Qobustan Petroglyph Site
Cool Rock Formation ...
More Interesting Than the Petroglyphs ...

Asia » Azerbaijan August 31st 2014

Geo: 40.3834, 49.8932The level of money found in Baku continued to amaze today - having only had a few hours to stroll around in the daylight yesterday, the bling didn't jump out at me quite as much as it did this afternoon. The disparity between the rich and poor in countries such as Azerbaijan is always huge, but it seems even more so here in Baku, where there is a healthy expat culture. The streets in the USA may be lined with gold, but here in Baku they are lined with the likes of Burberry, Dior, and Gucci. All this oil money really does make for a stunning place, but the level of excess isn't something you would see in many other places in the World. The best example may be the pedestrian underpasses found in ... read more
The Baku Biznes Centre ...
Fancy Architecture and Restaurants Abound in Baku
The Entrance to the Pedestrian Underpass ...

Asia » Azerbaijan August 30th 2014

Geo: 40.3834, 49.8932Talking 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 ... read more
Baku's European-Style Pedestrian Zone
Flatland
Unique Architecture in Baku ...

Asia » Azerbaijan August 28th 2014

Geo: 41.2019, 47.1756Perhaps the World's most ridiculed car and the butt of countless jokes, and an enduring symbol of Soviet times - the equally loved and despised Lada! It's a funny car, because there are so many jokes about its notorious lack of reliability and poor design, yet there are so many of these still in operation, that you wonder how true those stereotypes are. Everywhere you look, there's a Lada performing a dangerous pass into oncoming traffic, deftly maneuvering around cars, trucks, and horse-drawn carts, seemingly running better than their advanced age suggests they should.Looking at the typical Lada found in these parts, the average age appears to be about 20 years, with some of them even pushing 30. Even if they were in constant need of repair, the fact that they can still run ... read more
Nelson at 6:30 AM
Free House
Karavansaray ...

Asia » Azerbaijan » Baku May 22nd 2014

18th May Whilst we cleaned up after breakfast, the guys hauled the rest of the large firewood up onto the roof and secured it with tarps and ropes. We'll definitely need to watch the wires with the added height and rolled the sides up in anticipation of the slow drive back to the main road. Just after 8 we were on the truck and left the park gates, waving goodbye to the park rangers. Only 100 metres or so down the road was a freshwater tap so we attached a hose and filled up the drinking water container under the truck, much to the amusement of the local men who stopped working to watch us. It was a slow and tense drive under the wires but event free and we eventually breathed sighs of relief when ... read more
Our first night camping with the Greater Caucasus mountains as the backdrop
Sunset
Relaxing in the last of the day's light

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




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