Arrived to Azerbaijan by the end. The train ride went well… finding a place to stay was a way different challenge. The only hotel with an acceptable price range, suggested by the guidebooks, where sort of like a set from a horror movie. Still after many years passed and I traveled around the globe, this hotel still on the top of my list as the worth hotel around the world. It was just so incredibly dirty, shady, dried meat and eggs smashed and left in the bed, the floor was not cleaned for tenth of years and from the doorways older prostitutes where peeking out hunting for a pray… or just simply checking out who is the new meet. Luckily I managed to run out as I always check the room before I pay, but as an experience it still hunts me some nights. The only other option left is the lonely hostel of the city… I was worried after the well recommended hotel how it will look like, but actually it was nicer, clean, tidy… a room from a family house, the older daughter even had a bit of english, which according to my experience is a rearity.. The only issue here was the loo, which was missing a few important bits, like the seating parts and even the area was not up to the standard of the room, but compared to the hotel… well, it was like a five star resort. Other interesting feature of the hostel is the strange but nice guy.. who was sort of a relative of the owner or alike… supposed to be the security personel to avoid the tourists to make parties…. but luckily he went to bed early as he claimed he had way too many vodkas for the night. The unlucky bit came after he fall asleep…. loud snorting until the morning.
Baku is allright although a bit plastic in feel. Everything is new, even the old town is new it is just renovated on a way that it seems old. 🙂 feels like Dubai a bit.. skyscrapers.. fully lit parks…. and everything is very expensive. Hence the reason after a day I decided to move my base to the countryside and wait there until the Kazakh visa gets active…. I will have to wait there anyway for the cargoship… First I wanted to go north to Seki, but everybody suggested to wait a bit as it is really old up there now, so I travelled to the south to Lenkeran. It is next to the sea, seemed like a nice option.
It take around five hours with a very comfortable bus there.. the public transport is cheap… so are the petrol around half a dollar or so.
The hotel at Lenkeran was a hit… they even had hot water.. 🙂 I did not had a shower for a few days or a week so it was just in time. Interestingly it was a few manat cheaper than the mass accommodation… which is the only other option in town… and the restaurant next to it… hmmmm… nice times at Lenkeran I would say 🙂
Although Azerbaijan is not to committed to any religion, women where disappeared from the streets on the countryside… (Baku is entirely different you can even see lovers holding hands on the streets…) it was an interesting experience that next to the hotel there is a restaurant attached to it and which only accepts man… if there is a girl in the group you have to sit in a private room, as the main area is only for man… even behind the door, all the food is served to the man and all the question is asked from the man.
It is interesting, that outside of the capital nobody.. and I mean nobody speaks english.. not even a single word… not even the international words… like hotel.. but… it works very well with a gentle elbow-greasing…. all the people I met where really helpful and made extra effort to explain me things… in azery or russian language. 🙂 for example the nice old gentleman next to me on the bus in my view explained, that this was a hill where people where stabbed (or I will be stabbed… was not clear at this point) what is even more… even their hand was chopped of…… or.. as turned out later he tried to explain that you can fry some nice meat over the fire here on the hill and on the corner you even can buy a nice loaf of bread… 🙂
Shockingly, although Lenkeran is on the seaside you can swim or have a bath… not for any religious rules but simply based on the fact that it is soo dirty nobody dares to enter the foam…. everything is covered with building materials, ruins, plastic trash, and dead fish. Most probably it was possible before based on the few deserted buildings on the shore, but during the 90s the sea level grew a few meters (why, how it is possible?) so they just left everything like this… later I was also told, that even the country has a really nice long seaside it is hardly possible anywhere to enter the water, due to the big amount of oilrigs working around and the pollution and dripping oil coming from them.
All the small towns are constructed on the same way… in the center there is a park dedicated to the big leader… the previous one called Heydar Eliyev who is still very well respected… or has to be respected.. it is not clear… but it is like churches in Georgia.. you can find a sign of him basically on every corner…. He passed away already… now it is his son who rules the country who is not liked that much as far as I heard. Also it is a must for every single town and village to have a monument or shrine representing the brutality of the Armenian people…. even on the bus.. every single times you have to watch a presentation vid about it… I guess it is showed for the tourists even more.. and they make sure you are actually watching it. … other than this it is not entirely different compared to any hungarian towns or villages.. no tourists here… basically at all… I’m the curiosity… although I’m not photographed that much as in Georgia…. sometimes I’m looked and checked out suspiciously… if I would be a us or armanian spy of some sort… other than this everybody is nice… after a few days in town people are shouting: “Budapest!!!” when I approach someone. Internet is basically not existing….
One day I went to the surrounding hills to the village of Leric to the Talish mountains. Talish is also the group of people inhabiting the area. The scenery is awesome, it is maybe even better than the Georgian Caucasus…
Ah, and most importantly… I almost forgot: at the countryside most of the cars… lets say 95% of them are Lada’s.. the rest is Volga… plus some Mercedeses for the reachest families. Lots of custom-make-ups 🙂 I love them..
And btw… my country is called here: Magyaristan 😀