April 23rd, 2010
Before heading to a new travel destination we always do some research and read up on the customs and traditions of the country we're travelling to. We did the same for Azerbaijan since we had never been there before.
We travelled from Armenia to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, where we rented an appartment for the following three weeks. The owner of the building had offered to pick us up from the airport which saved us a cab ride into town.
The appartment was small but perfect for the two of us and a lot cheaper than most hotels in Baku.
The city has become more commercial since expats working for European and American oil companies have been coming to Azerbaijan more often.
After a first Azerbaijan meal of lamb kebab meal and a good night's rest we were ready to explore the city of Baku the next morning. We headed to the Old City of Baky to visit the he Palace of the Shirvanshahs and Maiden Tower which is part of the old city walls.
To take a look inside the Maiden Tower there's a 2 Manat entrance fee but the 360° view from the tower once you get up there is definitely worth it! You can look out over Old and New Baku, the Caspian Sea and even the oil platforms in the distance.
The historical centre of Buka, also known as Isheri Seher, has been listed a heritage site by UNESCO and attracts a lot of visitors, especially at night when all the buildings and fountains lit up.
Some prices might have gone up in Baku but other things like gas and groceries cost a lot less. For a few Manat you can get your bags filled at any local supermarket and they have all kinds of things, so you don't have to miss out on anything!
At night you won't get bored quickly in Baku and the shops don't ever seem to close, great for souvenir shopping. Especially if you're looking for a typical Azerbaijan carpet, you've come to the right place and the streets in the centre are filled with carpet shops and stands.
The television programmes are almost all in Russian which is ok for about two hours and than you realize it's impossible to understand what they're talking about..We ended up buying some dvd's in a shop down stairs and had a real movie marathon.
In the upcoming weeks we visited a lot of other sites and places around Baku like the Azerbeijan Art Museum, the University and the suburb of Surakhani to visit the Fire Temple with its impressive Sanskrit inscriptions.
We also visited some surrounding cities like Gobustan, which is located about 60 km south of Baku. Gobustan is famous for it's rock art and beautiful mountains. The petroglyphs of Gobustan are ancient rock decorations and are of great value for the local people. The Gobustan region is also known for its vulcanic mud pools and can be reached easily by car.
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