Prior to jumping over to describing and highlighting how beautiful and impressive the country is, allow me to reiterate that this post is not about the trip to Azerbaijan, instead it is about OUR unforgettable memory recollections and amazing encounters during the short stay in Baku and several country side villages.
We planned this trip last minute as an Eid Al Adha get away for the family.
That said, you should expect to stumble on random, lots of random, yet captivating and informative photos taken by us throughout our visit (and inflight;).
The airplane window view- high above the Caspian Sea (also known as largest lake)
A little about the flight, its duration and airlines. I have always wondered why there are no flights to Baku extended by Emirates Airlines to their loyal passengers; be that as it may, we had a safe flight with Azerbaijan Airlines. I know for a fact that there are several other Airline companies that fly to Baku from UAE, I will refrain from naming them as I am not sure which ones do fly though:)
The duration calculated from the take off up until the landing is about 3 hours in total. During the flight we were offered some quick snacks and coffee/tea before the main appetizing meal (since we were flying in the afternoon). There was a choice of meat/chicken meal available, quite adequate for a 3 hour’s flight.
Could not find my camera in my stuffed hand bag at that moment, and when I finally did, we were already exiting the departure gates. ( What a pity, I could not capture the all new Terminal of Baku Heydar Aliyev International Airport from inside!
Since this was my first visit to Azerbaijan along with my husband and son (of course I have been to Azerbaijan before – I am an Azerbaijani), but this was their first ever visit, I could easily tell their lungs were totally submerged in fresh air – all inexhaustible oxygen! I will not lie, I was as excited as them and longing to return home on a visit after almost 5 years. We all felt warmly welcomed by the immigration and airport staff, to an extent that we were escorted through the immigration desk via a VIP booth – hassle and fee-free (for Sultan’s sake as the Captain himself told me:)). Is this kind of pleasant immigration service found anywhere else? No wonder Azerbaijan is well known for its hospitality!
On our way to the hotel, driving through the narrow, yet historical streets of Icheri Sheher – the Old City/Town.
I cannot say enough words to praise Baku night scenery. This was the first photo taken after leaving the hotel for a walk around Bulvar – The Boulevard (promenade) -another historical location.
Walking around the city was very pleasant & safe, given the broad footpaths all across the city streets. When travelling with a baby, it is quite a challenge trying to cross the streets (most parents around the world will agree), and Baku comprises of countless number of streets and junctions, however, good news is that there are plenty of easily accessible subways built all around the city, making it even more secure for pedestrians.
This was the nearest subway we used to cross to the opposite side, leading to Bulvar- The Boulevard.
This is the world’s “largest” National Flag situated in the heart of Bulvar. You may spot it from any angle in Bulvar and some areas of Baku.
A tour around Bulvar. Great seafront spot for fresh air, restaurant dining and chaykhana (tea place), or just a family day out for all.
Another main attraction can be seen from Bulvar, the Flames Towers.
Our first delicacy since we landed in Baku. A peaceful restaurant in Bulvar called Gunesli- pronounced Gyuneshli.
Touring around the Old City, taking countless number of photos:)
The all famous Maiden Tower, inscribed under UNESCO World Heritage. Located in the Old City.
Who does not take home some pretty souvenirs for family and friends? You can find dozens of such shops inside the Old City.
The Art Garden Restaurant. It is a typical traditional restaurant inspired by Azerbaijan’s historical culture and décor. It is definitely worth dining at. They serve a variety of traditional cuisine, that taste just as good as my mom’s food;)
Another city spot – Torgovaya – not sure about the meaning in English – most suitable translation is The Trade Area. This place is jammed (in a good way) with lots of coffee shops, restaurants, fast food chains and retail shops.
Mado restaurant in Torgovaya. Very popular in Baku as well.
For not so-foodies, those who look for picturesque sights, there are couple of charming fountains and views to capture for memory. Again, just as Bulvar, this place is fit for families and couples willing to go on a long walk during a pleasant weather. Why not?
Although I was born in Baku, there are still some places I have not discovered yet. This is one of them.
We were taken to this amazing “decent” club/restaurant by our dear friends from Baku, located a little away from the city, but within Baku, called Sherlock’s. What makes it stand out is that it is built above the seashore, and as I was told by my friends, it has a beautiful view at the sunset. We arrived a little late, hence no photo of the sunset:) Please forgive me…
Okay, not sure about the exact name of this place (I have not been to Baku for the past 5 years, please don’t blame me), however, you can find it opposite Bulvar, going up towards the hillside.
Frankly speaking, after getting closer I was politely refusing to climb the infinite number of stairs ahead of me, but I was convinced by my friends:) It probably took us some good 5 minutes getting to the top, where we could enjoy a fascinating night view and landscape from above. It was all worth the struggle. I hope we burned the calorie-packed dinner consumed prior to this staircase tournament. That would be a great reward!
Same day return trip to country side. The North of Azerbaijan.
Passing by Kachresh- or Qachresh. A pathway leading to forestry.
A huge variety of tea labels in a local market/shop (in Azerbaijan supermarkets are called market).
Fresh fruits anyone? Crops are grown locally:) You may allow yourself to fantasize just how fresh and juicy they are.
My favorite fruit since childhood is Feikhua – again, don’t know the English word, could be Feijoa.
Coming to the most awaited spot, Shah Dagh- mountains, continuously surrounded by them. Unfortunately we got so indulged in the beauty of the landscape that we totally forgot we had a camera:(
Overall, Shah Dagh is best in winter season as its focal purpose is winter sports and activities for tourists, when it snows:) So you have not missed on much scenery.
On our way back to Baku, stopped by a Northern Azerbaijani restaurant run by Lezgi folk- it is a minor nation in Azerbaijan, mainly wide spread in the Northern Azerbaijan villages.
Qouting my husband: “I have never tasted a unique kebab such as this one, ever”.
Indeed the food served was all freshly grilled, we could not hold back from laying our hands on the kebab:) We hinted at the waiter to serve us another BIG portion of the same dish (so guilty), and requested for a take away of additional portion as well lol. We call it – my eye eats before my tummy hehe.
It is very common and is an integral part of Azerbaijani culture and its people to host guests at their houses. In fact they pride in it.
We were warmly hosted by my aunt at her house in Baku:) All home made food, no junk;)
My dearest friend’s mom as well hosted us at her house. Another table setting displaying all home made dishes (we finished the food when I remembered to take a photo of the table setting lol).
Azerbaijani nation’s hospitality has no boundaries!
The BIG Day of my best friend’s brother’s – Wedding
We had a blast. Lots of memories captured. May the couple always be happy!
It is so hard to say bye to Baku and Azerbaijan as a whole.
As often as I was trying to ignore the thoughts of last day arriving soon, it finally came. Here we were at the airport registration desk taking last breath photos before departing.
Heydar Aliyev International Airport Departures gate entrance.
Waving goodbye, Baku. See you soon my city of winds….
I have been planning to share this post in more details, providing the restaurants, parks, museums and sightseeings’ names and locations, however, since I am currently short of quality time and not sure if I could do a detailed blog post on this trip any soon; I thought a summary in photos would deliver sufficient enough information about Azerbaijan, Baku in particular.
I hope you enjoyed the post and more importantly I wish you gained good knowledge about Azerbaijan, its history and people, infrastructure and culture etc. Seeing is believing. Visit Azerbaijan and I can guarantee you that you will love every day of your stay and will return to Baku multiple times afterwards.
If you have any questions relating to the subject, please do not hesitate to drop me a line in the comments.