Likes & Dislikes

Opinions

“Baku is a real culture shock if you don't limit yourself to the downtown boutiques. The light-filled high-rises and desolate, barren, ruined streets often stand side by side.
We rented the lower floor of a 100-square-meter house, with two large rooms, a fully equipped kitchen, washing machine, bathroom, etc., for 25 euros per day. It was 9 km from the airport.
Prices in shops are comparable to those in Central Europe, and in many respects far cheaper. So for example 2 liters of cola costs about a manat, equivalent to around €0.60.
Diesel is €0.50 a liter, petrol €0.60...
Azerbaijan possesses some true wonders of nature, including the world's largest mud volcanoes, and you can see herds of gazelle grazing in the semi-desert steppe between the two ranges of the Caucasus, after paying the €1.10 entrance fee to the national park.

Traffic is a sensitive issue, and operates entirely on the basis of confidence, as you will experience: there are a thousand things you need a license for back home, but it’s completely natural to do without one there. Drivers won’t deliberately crowd you, it's just that there was an inch of space in front of you :) On a two-lane roundabout, it’s normal to see four cars squeezed side by side, and it’s normal for the one the furthest inside to head for the turn-off by just stepping on the gas. You just have to get used to it, and with good reflexes, you might even enjoy it:)

When you drop off the rental car, a list of photos where you exceeded the speed limit awaits you... fortunately, the fine is cheap like everything else.
What is very important: EVERYWHERE you go you should bring a small bag with toilet paper, disinfectant, wipes, etc., because even in the downtown museum you will be faced with the fact that there is not even a paper towel or soap next to the hole, only a little handheld douche that I will leave to your imagination...
It's a wonderful country, the people are friendly, and the malls in the city center feel just like those at home. Even in small desert villages, there are at least 2-3 shops where you can get almost everything you might need on a trip.” (2022)


Azerbaijan - Baku - Old Town and the Flame Towers - a trio of skyscrapers - Krista photo

Practicals

Transport

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Azerbaijan - Baku - traffic with Western luxury cars and Soviet-made ones - Krista photo

Azerbaijan - Baku - k-t.g. photo

Azerbaijan - Baku - spotless metro stations - Krista photo

Food

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Azerbaijan - hearty breakfast

Azerbaijan - kutab - a herb-filled wheat flatbread-pancake - sometimes even with camel meat - k-t- g. photo

Baku - pastry shop - Krista photo

Baku - a palace for KFC - Krista photo

Shopping

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Azerbaijan - Baku - antiquities - Krista photo

Azerbaijan - Baku - Lenin&Stalin souvenirs - c.p. photo

Background

Azerbaijan - national flag

Azerbaijan - Baku - together - Krista photo

Destination in brief

Azerbaijan in brief

Azerbaijan is a country located at the south-eastern end of Europe, in the Southern Caucasus area. It practically straddles the border between Europe and Asia

Neighbors: European countries such as Armenia (west), Georgia (north-west), Russia (north) and Asian countries such as Iran (south) and Turkey (south-west). 

Size: 86,600km2 (53,800mi2) – Population: close to 11 million (2020) – Capital city: Baku 

97% of the population is Muslim, but religious life is far less active than in Arabic countries or in neighboring Iran

Official language: Azeri (or Azerbaijani), which is very similar to Turkish. Azeris use the Latin-script alphabet for writing.

Many Azeris speak Russian as Azerbaijan was part of the Soviet Union until 1990. 

Owing to its vast oil wealth, Azerbaijan is a rapidly developing country.

Average monthly net salary: about 220 USD (2020)

Official currency: manat (AZN)

Most frequent surname: Mammadova 

Public safety is reassuring for tourists. Female tourists traveling without a male companion may sometimes experience some minor annoyances. No significant health hazards. 

Main tourist sights: Old Town of Baku and Gobustan (rock petroglyphs and mud volcanoes)

The tourist infrastructure is well developed in hypermodern Baku, but not so much in the countryside.

Azerbaijan is similar to Turkey insofar as the Muslim religion is not really visible in everyday life. People are dressed and behave like it is usual in Europe (especially in Baku). Young people follow Western and Russian fashion trends. Those tourists who expect to see exotic street scenes will be disappointed. I felt that Azerbaijan somehow lacks a characteristic identity. The vestiges of the Soviet past are there (for ex. ugly housing estates), as well as a Dubai-like super modern world in Baku. I would recommend a visit rather for experienced individual travelers who are used to handling inconveniences (in the countryside). Otherwise, group travel may minimize the problems of imperfect tourist infrastructure and communication difficulties.” (j.k, 2018)

 

History

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Baku - magic carpet for Lenin and Stalin - Krista photo

Nowadays

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Azerbaijan - Baku - ultra-modern Heydar Aliyev Center - k-t.g. photo

Azerbaijan - Baku - street scene - Krista photo

Azerbaijan - Baku - behind the shine - Krista photo

People

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Azerbaijan - local man - k-t.g. photo

Azebaijan - Baku - toddler - k-t.g. photo

Azerbaijan - Azeri youth - Krista photo

Baku - newly-wed - Krista photo

Attractions

Baku

“Baku is mistakenly referred to as the ‘Dubai of the Caspian’. I don't think this name is entirely apt. While in Dubai you can find almost exclusively modern things in a sterile, artificial environment, in Baku, you will find both the historic and the contemporary, the classic and the modern.

In Baku, you will find centuries worth of Islamic architecture, classicist monuments built in the tsarist era, and modern, glass buildings, all jumbled up. The modern glass towers are also tastefully arranged, so it doesn’t feel like a postmodern parade of kitsch, as is the case in Dubai. The city is extremely clean and full of extremely well-laid-out and maintained parks.

You can easily apply for a visa online. The local people are kind and hospitable, and you can communicate with almost anyone in either English or Russian. Due to the proximity of the Caspian Sea, the weather is also pleasant in winter. The last time I was there was in 2019, and since then the prices have risen quite steeply, but even so, tourists do not find themselves facing Western or Dubai-style prices.” (k.a., 2022)



Ganja

“I visited Nizami's hometown, Ganja. The most populous settlement in the western part of Azerbaijan, it is a city of 17th-century mosques and caravanserais. It is true that only one gate has survived the seventeen-kilometer-long old city wall, but based on the main square, the wealth of this city when it was a node in vast trade networks can be imagined.
Ganja also possesses one of the most beautiful old concert halls and opera houses in the country.
It is easy to find your way around the city. All roads lead to the railway station. Haydar Aliyev and Atatürk avenues run parallel to it. Almost all attractions can be found on or close to these main routes.
Ganja reminds me of Gyumri in Armenia and Kars in Turkey... as if 19th-century Russian architecture is being reborn in the streets..." (Ata, 2022)


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