Azerbaijan – Part 11 – People, flowers and Baku Airport

My shopping was over and it was time to relax. I was roaming on Nizami street, and I saw this girl, walking in front of me. I couldn’t stop myself. I went ahead and told her, how beautiful, she is. She was taken aback and willingly posed for a click.

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Almost each other person on the street was a looker. I click some random photos, without disturbing them.

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I did post my collection, (well, part of it ) of roses, I clicked there. There were some other attractive flowers too. Here are few of them.

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It was time to leave for airport. My guide dropped me there. I had to pack my things.  The airport is smaller than say Dubai or Singapore. But it is the most beautiful airport, I have ever seen. The ground floor has check in counters. The first floor has few restaurants. Seating there, you can see arrival hall. The second floor has customs and departures gates.

Apart from the usual duty free shops and eateries, this airport has a library. All these things are beautifully designed. The domestic terminal is also beautiful, but I had to satisfy myself, with just one click.

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I have already started dreaming about another visit to this country, and I think, you too should.

Concluded.

Azerbaijan – Part 10 – Baku Again

After spending wonderful time in Qabala, it was time to return to Baku. Incidentally in was Ramadan Eid day. My guide’s family members were calling him. Though not insisted by him, I told him, he can drop me to the hotel, and he can join his family, for Eid celebrations. He was too happy.

On the way back to Baku, we haw hundreds of cars going to Qabala, to celebrate the Eid Holidays. I did my shopping of fruit jams and fruit leathers on the way back. I checked in the same Qafqas Hotel in Baku.

After taking a short nap, I started exploring Baku, on my own. Being a holiday, there wasn’t much traffic on the road, and many shops were closed. Still the festive mood could be felt all over. Everybody was out with family and friends.

Apart from the usual stuff, which tourists buy, I love to visit a local supermarket, to check on groceries. I did visit a supermarket and did some sundry shopping. I Did not have any problem, with language. In fact, I was not even looked at as a foreigner.

I returned late to the hotel and packed. Next day was my last day in Azerbaijan. But as my flight was scheduled, late in the night, I had whole day in my hand.

After the lovely breakfast, I had my morning stroll. It was a holiday and the atmosphere was relaxed. My guide came and we started for the day. I wanted to check on Indian Restaurants in Baku. Hence we went to Flavors Fusion. The place was good and the food was good too. The portions were too heavy for me to finish though.

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My guide took me to IcheriShehar Though it means old town, it is lively place with souvenir shops and café. I picked some lovely camel wool scarves there.

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Then we went to Maiden Tower. This tower is standing there, for more than 1000 years. It is somewhat mysterious construction. It’s purpose is still not known. Though it may look ancient from outside, it has all modern amenities inside. For a small fee you can enter and climb the tower. It has eight floors and there are displays on each floor. There is tiny well and a duct also, connecting all the floors. The views from the terrace are amazing. There are some palaces and museum in the complex, which I did not visit.

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At walking distance from IcheriSheher, there is a area called Nizami Street. This is a shopping district named after an Azeri poet. Nizami Ganjavi. It is 3.5 kilometer street lined with shops, café, malls etc. There are no vehicles allowed there so you can stroll freely there. I wasn’t interested in branded goods but wanted to buy a set of Azeri tea cups, called Armedu. I got it there at a very reasonable price.

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I was feeling little down as my tour was getting over. I sat down at one corner and clicked some random shots of Azeri people. I will present them, in next post.

Azeri tea cup image, taken from internet , from folkcartbaku.com

 

 

To be continued..

Azerbaijan – Part 9 – Roses and Roses

We Indians, love roses. We try it very hard to grow them in cities, where most of the conditions are against us and the roses. In my initial years of gardening, I did dream of having lots of roses in my small garden. And the dream, remained a dream.

The rose garden of Qurum of Sultanate of Oman, was developed when I was in that country. It was very difficult to grow roses there, but still it was done. It seemed impossible is nothing.

I visited many times Switzerland. I was lucky enough to see how wildly alpine roses grow in that area. During my visit to gardens of New Zealand, I lost the count of colors and variety of roses, which are cultivated there.

And then there was Nairobi, the city with best climate and soil. Roses were growing anywhere and everywhere. I am not talking about the green house roses, which are exported from Kenya, but I am talking about the roses blooming alongside the roads there.

And then Azerbaijan happened to me. It seems to be hometown for these flowers. They were blooming there on their own. I mean, nobody was apparently taking care of them. The weeds around them were not removed. The dried leaves and flowers were not removed, and still they were blooming in abundance there. Even the creepers left to bend over compound walls, had almost same number of flowers as the leaves.

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Second lot

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Third lot

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Out of hundreds I clicked there, I am posting just few here. And yes, Azeri ladies make the best of rose jam !

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To be continued..

Azerbaijan – Part 8 – Qafqas Riverside Hotel, Qabala

In Baku, I had stayed in Qasqas hotel. The room was spacious with separate seating area. The view of sunset was amazing.

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In Qabala, I checked in at Qafqas Riverside Hotel. Arif RN Travel had mentioned that, I would be staying in this hotel, and I had searched for it’s reviews. Everybody had praised this place, and I do totally agree with them.

The hotel is a huge building. The reception and check in was done in just few minutes. I was allotted a room on fifth floor. The room was not as big as Baku, but had a separate specious balcony attached. And the view from balcony was just great.

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It was getting dark, so I ordered dinner on room service and I retired early. Next morning, I got up very early and could not wait for sunrise. The garden in front of the hotel, was too inviting.

I dressed up and went for a stroll there. There were loads of blooming roses, and each one of them was extra-ordinary. Like alpine roses, they were in basic colors of white, pink & yellow. I spent almost an hour there. (My next post would be exclusively for roses.)

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It was time for breakfast. Again the same Azeri fresh fruits, preserves, variety of creams and pomegranate juice. I just could’t get tired of it. The tomatoes were the tastiest, I ever had.

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Then I went to the rear side of the main building. The hotel has separate cottages there, each one with a separate garden and exclusive tea-house. It is like a dream town.

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Just next to the property there is cable car station for Tufandag. And then there is a river, where you can spend n number of hours.

Even in the front side there are some tea houses, where you can enjoy your kebabs and tea. I spend almost whole day there. During the day, I called my guide and we went for a joy ride in nearby village.

There are many archaeological sites nearby and many are still being excavated. There are other tourist attractions also, but I was more than happy to remain in the hotel.

As said above, in my next post, I will show you the beautiful roses there.

 

To be continued..

 

Azerbaijan – Part 7 – Qabala / Gabala

My next stop was Qabala / Gabala (both spellings are used). This is a very popular tourist destination and it is not without reason.

This town is about 225 kilometers from Baku and takes about 3 hours by road. It is popular holiday destination for Baku residents also.

We started at about 9 a.m. The day was sunny. Once we were out of city limits of Baku the topography reminded me of Dubai – Abu Dhabi road. The only difference was that, Azeri government has planted many trees in this area and after few years from now, the trees would have grown.

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We did climb some hills and we entered Qabala region. And it was like driving from Dubai to Switzerland by road. It is almost like Swiss Alps, with snow topped peaks and happy cows, to complete the picture. Roses were in full bloom, even on the roads. I will have a separate post, just for roses, I saw there.

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This region has mountains covered with fruits trees. (Mulberries, Apricots, Cherries etcetera). These fruit trees produce abundance of harvest and local people make lovely jams, fruit leathers, preserves with these fruits. They do collect honey and wild herbs. All these products are available alongside this road at very reasonable prices. By the time you decide, what to buy the handsome guy and his charming wife would have fed you with loads of samples. I did buy lots of these things, on my way back.

We reached Qabala around noon, but my guide decided to visit some places, before we check in the hotel. (And I must say that was a good decision, why ?, would tell you later.)

First we went to, Yeddi Gozel Waterfall. It is little off from the main road and the road leading to it is little bad. Still, the car can reach the spot, with slight difficulty though. On the way, I saw some very young pretty girls selling lovely Kiara made with fresh roses.

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The waterfall itself is in three stages and you can climb few hundred steps to reach the top. At each level, there is a restaurant and you can sip your tea with great view of the fall. The fall is not very wide but has some charm attached to it.

Near the base there was this guy selling Turkish ice cream and was too happy to pose for me. As always, his Turkish ice cream was great too. (But that man was nice enough as he did not play his usual funny tricks with me, with his ice cream.) I did buy some strawberries and plums there.

Then we went to Nokhur Gel Lake. It is a vast lake with lovely greenish blue waters. There are various food stalls around the lake and boating is possible. That is a very nice place to relax.

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Then we went to my hotel. Hotel Qafqas. This was the best hotel, I had ever stayed. It was so great place to be and walk around that, I cancelled my next day tours to bazar and other archaeological sites. I just wanted roam around Qafqas.

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I did take cable car to Tufandag, but that was just next to the Qafqas. The view from top is just amazing. It is possible to go hiking on many of the mountains there. During winter, it is also possible to ski. There is a river, which flows down the valley. Walking alongside, it’s banks is a memorable experience.

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You must be wondering what is so special about that place, well, will post some photos from there, in my next post.

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To be continued.

Azerbaijan – Part 6 – Heydar Aliyev Center. Exhibits

After appreciating the beauty of this building, let us look at the various exhibits there.

On the ground floor, there are various vintage cars, sculptures and a beautifully designed café. There is an exhibit of carpet in the making too.

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The upper floors have collection of Dolls, traditional outfits, brass and copper utensils, paintings etc. There is no restriction on photography. There is an attendant on duty at each gallery.

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Unlike other museums, there are not too many things on display. Hence you can give enough time to each exhibit. The information is available in English also.

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I found the models of most of the outstanding buildings of Baku on display on first floor, most interesting. Various buildings, whose beauty can not be seen by our naked eyes, by visiting them personally, can be seen here, with bird’s eye view.

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I did not visit many of them, but these model, nonetheless made me do so. So, may be next time.

Here are some photos of those exhibits.

To be continued..

Azerbaijan – Part 5 – Heydar Aliyev Center.

Azerbaijan – Part 5 – Heydar Aliyev Center.

We do get stunned with natures unique creations many times, but there are certain manmade creations, which command the same kind of attention.

Many of manmade buildings tend to be rectangular. ( I am aware of few exceptions like the great pyramids, Sydney opera house, Eifel Tower etc ) But be in Taj Mahal or any palace, it fits in a square or rectangular. Few elements like towers, domes add a certain dimension, but still the basic shape is same.

The more modern buildings of say Dubai, Hong kong or Singapore, though well designed, still are in a rectangular shape. They may be almost touching the sky, but very few dare to deviate from basic shape.

The Heydar Aliyev Center of Baku breaks all the rules. It is designed by Zaha Ahid, an Iraqi British designer. Even though the structure is right in front of you, it is difficult to trust your own eyes, unless you actually enter it. (It has won many awards for it’s design.)

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And from inside it is equally stunning. Not only the building even the interiors, walls, ceilings and even floor is pure white. (And yes, it is kept spotlessly clean.)

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It is difficult to describe, what the shape actually is. It may look like a shell, or wave or anything else you may imagine. And unless you go inside, it is difficult to imagine it’s massive scale.

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Not only that, it also has a huge open space around it. Still with some efforts, I could get the entire structure in one frame. The shape of this engineering marvel from opposite side is entirely different. (I regret, I could got get a good shot from that side.)

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Inside, there is a huge auditorium, various floors dedicated to different types of arts. (I will post the photos of items on display, in my nest post.)

Somebody imagining such a design, making it practically possible, the authorities approving it and finally the engineers building it.. everything is so fascinating.

The auditorium was closed, as there was no show at that time. I am posting a link here, where you could see some more photographs of this center.

https://www.archdaily.com/448774/heydar-aliyev-center-zaha-hadid-architects

As said above, wait for more photographs of items on display, in my next post.

To be continued..