Azerbaijan – Part 1 – Baku City

I had made all the arrangements for my Trip. For some technical reason, my advance payment to the Travel Agent could not go thru. But Arif RN Travel assured me, that would not be an issue, I could pay on arrival.

My Emirates flight to Dubai was parked away from the airport. After seemingly unending bus journey, we were taken to some terminal. My sixth sense told me that I have landed at wrong terminal. I moved to the right people and soon another bus was arranged for me, to take me to the right terminal, from where I could get my connecting flight.

There was a long wait, I opted for shower. (It was not so good experience. For 10 USD, they did not even provide towel.) The terminal was almost empty and I could relax for a while. My Azerbaijan flight was on time.

The flight itself was very pleasant. We flew over kish island and Iran. When we approached Caspian Sea, I could see the numerous oil rigs and I knew I have reached Azerbaijan.

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The domestic & international airports of Baku, are very well designed. (I will come back with more about these Airports later.) After getting out from the plane, I was ready with print out of my visa, travel arrangements etc. And, guess what, to my surprise nothing was required except my passport. The immigration, did not even take two minutes.

The baggage arrived quickly. My guide, Ismail was waiting for me outside. The first impression of Baku was great. Beautifully designed buildings, stadia, roads lined with trees, what else you could ask ? Only thing, the traffic was not caring for the rules, but that was fine with me, as my guide was brought up in that city.

 

We drove almost full length of the town. My hotel, QAFQAS was on a hill. When I checked in, I almost fell in love with it. The room was huge. It was too tempting to just go to the bed, but my guide told me, that he would come back at 9.00 p.m. to pick me up.

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This was another surprise for me.  I have never been out in a new country, at that hour before. When we reached Baku Funicular almost half of the town was on road. They were all with kids and families. Not only, during Ramadan, it is every day affair in Baku.

Baku Funicular is a small rail like construction which takes you to Neftchilar to Martyrs Alley. At that hour the train was not working but we could use the steps, which were very beautifully lit. There is a vast open space there, from which you can see the flame towers is full glory. Flame towers are dominant part of Baku skyline and can be seen from anywhere. These are three towers in the shape of flame comprising of offices and hotel. All three towers are lit up with LED lights and display many themes like, flames, showers, water fall. You can never get tired of watching them.

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From the gallery there you get a bird’s eye view of the Baku Boulevard. a 3.5 kilometre-promenade on the shores of  the Caspian Sea with an amusement park, bars and cafés along with a cacti garden, Mini-Venice, and the Baku Eye. At far end you can also see the Crystal Hall. If you climb little uphill, there is Martyrs Alley. There is a large minaret wit continuously burning flame, on the ground. In the ally itself, each and every Shahid (yes, that is the word) rests with due respect and honor. Not only, every shahid’s name is mentioned, even there portrait is also preserved.

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Then we went to beach. Coming from beautiful island nation, Seychelles, the actual beach was of no interest to me, but I was surprised to note the families which were out there to enjoy. Unfortunately the Carpet Museum was closed but other open gardens were open. There was a huge chessboard where people were actually playing it.

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We returned to the hotel, almost at midnight. Next morning was a very pleasant. My guide was to pick me up at 10.00 p.m. I had my breakfast at the hotel. Even for a vegetarian like me, there was huge choice of breads, cheeses, fresh fruits and vegetables, fruit preserves and the tastiest pomegranate juice.

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After breakfast, I went out for a stroll. I could see vide roads, and gardens at every corner. There were so many fruiting trees and flowers around that I have decided to post them in separate posts here.

My guide came to pick me up as promised, we started our journey  to our next attraction. The roads almost resembled those of Dubai.  We were on our way to Qobustan. More about it, in my next post.

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To be continued.