From Dawn till Dusk in Baku, Azerbaijan

When I told people that I’m going to Azerbaijan, the first thing they said was “Where is that? I’ve never heard of that place”. I have to admit, Azerbaijan is not a common place where people come to visit. Azerbaijan is a country located in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. It borders the Caspian Sea, Georgia, Russia, Iran, and Armenia. The capital city is Baku.

I’ve always wanted to visit Azerbaijan since I’ve been to its neighbors: Turkey and Armenia. In Fall 2018, I had the opportunity to finally travel there. I also visited Georgia and Nepal right after.

Getting from the U.S. to Azerbaijan

I was supposed to fly from DC to London via New York, but my American Airlines flight was canceled, so I re-routed through Chicago. From London, I flew on British Airways to Istanbul. I bought a separate ticket from Istanbul to Baku. It was such a long journey.

Upon arrival in Baku, I proceeded to the custom and immigration. I was on my way out within 10 minutes. The airport was nice and modern. I booked a shuttle service a few days before and met the driver at the arrival hall. My first impression of the city was: WOW. It was super clean and modern. Baku’s infrastructure was amazing. Most major roads are 6-8 lanes in each direction. It didn’t take very long to get to the hotel since it was late at night and there wasn’t any traffic.

The Hotel

I stayed at Drop Inn Baku. It’s a small hotel located in the city center. The hotel felt more like an apartment. Though it was clean and comfortable. I arrived around midnight. So I unpacked, took a shower, and went to bed.

The next morning I felt much better. For some reason, my body adjusted well with the timezone. I got ready and started my day. Since my hotel is located right in the city center, I decided to have a walk around the area.

It was a quiet morning. I could barely see anyone on the street, except the street workers who were mopping the street.

Sightsee Around the City

I headed west towards the old city which is the most historical place in Baku. This includes The Palace of the Shirvanshahs and Maiden Tower. UNESCO classified these two sites as a World Heritage Site.

Right across the street, there is a fascinating looking building. It’s a museum called the Nizami Museum of Azerbaijani Literature.

Lunch with the Local

After a few hours of exploring the area and shopping. I started feeling hungry. Since I was in the area, I randomly picked a restaurant. I sat down in a place called Qala Divari. It’s a cute little place that served Azerbaijani Cuisine.

I ordered a lamb stew and a glass of orange juice. The staff was super friendly. I found Azerbaijani people very welcoming.

In the middle of my lunch, a gentleman sat down across the table to have lunch. We made eye contact – I could tell that he is local. A few moments later, the server came again bringing some food. Well, apparently the gentleman saw that I was a tourist. He shared his food and wanted me to try different local delicacies. I thought that was very kind of him. We didn’t really have a conversation because I didn’t speak the language and he didn’t speak English. It made my day. When people say travel and food bring people together. Well, isn’t that the truth?

South of the City

After lunch, I continue walking south. I walked through a park and saw a Mini Venice. It’s a cute little pond where you can have a gondola ride. I think it’s a nice concept.

I also visited the carpet museum nearby. The building is unique. It didn’t cost much to enter, but you would need to pay a small fee to take photos inside. If you have some free time, it’s definitely worth checking out.

The Flame Towers

One of the most popular landmark in Baku is the flame towers. It’s a set of three towers Towers representing flames symbolizing fire as a sign of Ahura Mazda. You can read about the history here. To reach the ground level of the towers, you will need to take a funicular. I believe the ticket costs 1 Manat each way (~60 cents), and the car departs every 20-30 minutes. Once I got to the top, I could an amazing view of the city.

Dinner

After spending all afternoon, I felt tired. I headed back towards the hotel and stopped by at a restaurant to have dinner. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the name of the restaurant. I ordered a pint of beer, a platter of Kebab, and an order of Qutab. They were delicious!

Evening in Baku

It started to get dark after dinner, but I still wanted to take some photos of the Baku skyline. I walked over to the park again. I waited for a while to get perfect shots. Out of hundreds of photos I took, I like this one the best.

It was a fun day from dawn till dusk in Baku. I headed to the hotel and had a good-night sleep. The next morning I took Bolt, a rideshare app, back to the airport to continue my journey to Tbilisi. I am looking forward to sharing my travel experience in Georgia!

Conclusion

It was a short visit to Baku. I was there for two nights. Though, I think that was enough time to explore most of the city. I had a great impression of the city. In fact, I was surprised by how modern and clean the city is. The infrastructure is amazing. The roads are wide and smooth. Azerbaijan is a developed country that continues to grow.

Azerbaijani people are kind. I was very touched by how much hospitable the locals are. I would never think a stranger who didn’t speak any English would share his food with someone he didn’t even know. That’s a powerful message: Travel and food bring people together.

I’m very humbled for the opportunity to visit Azerbaijan. If I had the change to come back, I wouldn’t think for a second. I will come back.

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