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Azerbaijan Photo Trip Report

gavin

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I know we’re all sick of reading trip reports from Azerbaijan, what with it being a theme park Mecca to rival only Florida, but here’s another one anyway.

This bit of the trip came directly after Turkey, flying direct from Antalya to Baku and arriving mid-afternoon I guess.

Baku Part 1

I had a hotel just inside the west walls of the old town, near a metro station and just a few minutes’ walk down to the waterfront, with a decent view over a cute little square. The hotel WiFi was s**te (a total pet peeve since it’s 2019 and there’s no need for it), but I had a perfect signal from the café under the window, and they didn’t turn off their router at night, so that was good.





I went for a bit of a wander around the immediate area, cutting through a small area of the old town and down to the waterfront.

































First impressions were all really good. The waterfront was pretty fab and was clearly a main focal point for locals, who were using it as a place to hang out, eat, drink etc. There were a couple of areas with kiddy rides, but no creds. It stretches on for a good few kilometers though, so I guess there could have been something hiding further out.

After hanging out there for a bit, it was back up through some park that ran parallel to the old town’s west wall, through the main gate (next to the hotel) and a very quick look around the area just inside that. They was way more to the old town, but I had plenty of time here, so was taking things slowly and keeping some stuff back.



















Baku Part 2

Well, not really Baku for the most part, but nothing was that far away. I’d booked myself onto a group tour of some nearby tourist traps. They all could’ve been done via public transport, which I’d first planned on doing, but the tour didn’t cost much at all and saved a lot of time and faff. My “group” consisted of me and a fab, 86-year-old Japanese woman.

First up was the mud volcanoes, out to the west of the city, which involved getting out of the comfortable minibus and doing a 20-minute, off-road rally in a Lada to get to them.



















Then it was on to a bunch of old rock carvings:























From there it was back through the city, stopping off at some mosque:







There was a stop for lunch at some point. It wasn’t great. Next up was the Fire Temple out to the east of the city. The gas is artificially pumped in now, but in the past it was natural.

















Next, it was up around to the north of the city to Yanar Dag (fire mountain). It’s a bit of hill which has been on fire forever.









It was cool, and luckily it was very quiet, but the reality is that they’ve developed it into something a bit less “off the beaten track”.









On the way back into the city, we stopped off at some arts/cultural centre, designed by Zaha Hadid.



























We got dropped off at the northern end of the old town. Clearly, I’ve gone through this quite quickly, but we were out for a good 9 hours in total, given that the sights were quite scattered in different directions out of the city. While all of those places were accessible via public transport, I doubt they’d have been doable in the same day given the distances and scattered locations.

I went back through the old town and down to the waterfront again, getting food (MUCH better than the awful lunch offering) down there and walking around a bit.





























Baku Day 3

I’d been holding off on the amazing park offerings, so made this my park day. I walked through the city centre first, through a bit of the old town and to Fountain Square, though the fountains weren’t on at that time of day. The statues there were fab though.























From there it was to the parliament building, then I walked up to the first park, which was a bit of a mistake since it was further than it looked and was all uphill.







It was all worth it though.

Koala Park











I got a taxi to the next place even though it wasn’t too far.

Narimanov Park

This place was bigger than the last one, but still only had a big apple.















Parks are done now if you want to stop reading, assuming you’re actually reading and not just scrolling through for pictures of creds.

Narimanov Park was right on the metro, so I used that to get back down to the station next to my hotel, then walked across to a funicular that heads up to the base of the flame towers. There’s also a cemetery up there and what I guess was some memorial. Being Azerbaijan, it had fire coming out of it. This was also located on a viewing platform, with great views back down over the city and waterfront. I walked back down via a few other viewing platforms. It was all quite fab.





















































From the bottom, I went back to the hotel for a couple of hours, then walked back up to Fountain Square since I’d liked it that morning and wanted to see it when it was a bit more vibrant.























I had the next morning free, so just did a bit of stuff near the hotel/around the old town, including a tiny museum with the world’s biggest collection of miniature books. Wasn’t my thing, but it was right there, was free, and was run/owned by some cute little old woman who was clearly very proud of it, so it was fine.





Then it was some palace, which was ok and had a collection of torture implements.



































Just a bit more of the old town, and then up into the Maiden Tower (there were pictures of it right back at the start of this report. Inside was ok. There were small museum areas on each floor and then a viewing platform on the top. After that, it was just back the hotel to pick up luggage and then the metro/bus to the airport since I had plenty of time and some money left on some travel card.

















Baku was fab. I had no idea about the place really other than those flame tower buildings, and I thought those might have been a case of turd polishing - there are plenty of craphole cities that throw a big building up, but still have nothing going for them – but that wasn’t the case at all.

The old town area was lovely, but then was also very well-connected with the more modern areas around Fountain Square, the Flame Towers and the Waterfront. Everything was spotlessly clean and really well-maintained. It’s not massively touristy either apart from the area immediately around Maiden Tower, so it all felt a bit more “authentic” (sorry that that sounds w**ky).

One thing that is surprising is that there are no real amusement/theme parks anywhere near it. The whole country only has nine (known) coasters, and the biggest one is a crappy Zyklon thing. Baku has over 2.2 million people (more than double that of other nearby capital cities Tbilisi and Yerevan though they have something resembling “proper” parks), is clearly a wealthy city and has LOADS of open, empty space surrounding the city centre. I’m not suggesting it’s ready for the next Universal park, but it could easily support a mid-tier park with a couple of decent coasters and a collection of off-the-shelf flats. Something along the lines of a Fantawild would suit.

Meh, what do I know?

The end.
 

Hixee

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Baku was fab. I had no idea about the place really other than those flame tower buildings, and I thought those might have been a case of turd polishing - there are plenty of craphole cities that throw a big building up, but still have nothing going for them – but that wasn’t the case at all.
I was going to write something like this. Your summary there is sort of what I was expecting of Baku, but for your few days that actually looked really nice.

Nice efficient report too. :)
 
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