Walk on the promenade
Baku has a beautiful seaside promenade along the Caspian Sea. Its lenght is about 3km and offers a great view of the city. Azeris call it "Bulvar" the Boulevard. You can get on a boat ride or sit at one of the outdoor cafes or tea-houses... there is amusement park for children and a huge Wheel of Fortune for adults. It's great to walk on the bulvar if you want to see and be seen ;-) There is a huge fountain like Geyser in the sea with the height of 130m (even taller than the one in Geneve). The bulvar starts from the Palace of Hand Games in Azneft and finishes with the Sea Port by the Liberty Square. I have the fondest memories of my childhood connected to bulvar. I loved the rides there and eating ice-cream in outdoor cafes. I miss walking by the water and hearing the sound of waves, watching the seagullls fight, sitting on a bench and reading early Sunday morning... and I always enjoyed riding my roller blades there!
Immigration stories never bore
Trying to leave some countries can be a pain. Azerbaijan was not the best example but provided some food for thought. At the airport border control counter a lady with a stern look took my passport and on the way to the Azeri visa page she came across my Armenian visa. The fact that I had one of those seemed to interest her even more than the existence of her own county’s visa. She started ogling at the Armenian visa as if it was some rare diamond, direct relative of the Kohinoor, looking at it from different angles and twisting the pages of the passport. After a couple of minutes which felt like eternity she quickly went over the Azeri visa and authoritatively stamped it. Later on I checked her work as I always do because stamps are valid documentation for legal travel and solid proof of presence in the respective part of the world. What I discovered was unbelievable – the date was one day ahead so in a way I was time traveling. Poor lady, Armenian visas made her hallucinate. The lesson for anybody who is contemplating a visit to the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and has the slightest residue of this trespassing action, according to the Azeri, is bound to have LOTS of trouble.
How to get to/from airport
If you have arrived at the International Airport in Baku and don't want to take one of those expensive cabbies, then head in the direction of the bus, which you'll find right after the parking lot. You'll see a sign when you get there, however no sign directing you to it ;-) Once you have found the bus stop, look for the bus with number 118. They run about every half an hour in the mornings and in the evenings, less frequent in the afternoon though. The bus will bring you to Ulduz metro station and from there you can get anywhere downtown by just using the subway. Sahil, 28th of May and Baki Soveti stations are right in the center of the city.
You can use the same route to get back to the airport!
The Oily Rocks
Oily Rocks, the world's first offshore oil drilling project!!! In Azeri it is called Neft Dashlari. The oil rigs were connected by means of piers built out over the Caspian. Oil was drilled there in 1949. Trestles were built up in the sea and stretched for tens of kilometers from the central hub. The entire system depended on those trestles which provided access to hundreds of wells, oil collecting stations, pipelines and moors for tankers to dock at when they loaded on the oil. Two-storied dormitories had been built. There was a clinic and cinema. About 3,000 men and women live and work there on one-to two-week shifts... this was all back then. Now this place is deserted but definitely worth a visit! Though the permission may be hard to get.
Cuma means Friday ...This mosque hosted for a long time the carpets museum, but is now back to its original use. The building you can see today dates from the early twentieth century, courtesy of an oil baron, but stands over the remains of preceding buildings. Its main attraction is the intricate stone ornamentation.
The Imam and his assistants are Turks who studied in both Iran and Iraq. Services were on several occasions restricted by the authorities, due to 'radical' content.