Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pearl of Caucasus

Land of Fire – like this people call Azerbaijan, the richest country in Caucasus. Capital of Azerbaijan is Baku, which is coming from the words “Badü Küba” (means “Windy City”). It is the biggest city in whole Caucasus, with it’s 2,130 km2 area.

I would like more to share with you my life experience in Baku: “how to get the things?”, “Where to get them?”, “Cheapest places”, “What places you have to visit?” and so on.
Before starting this “trip”, I would like to tell you, that Baku is considered as the 48th expensive city in the world for 2011. So, be careful with your cash. J
Whatever you buy in bazaars or wherever you go by taxi, always negotiate about the price! I have never been in Holland, but I heard, that barging there is very impolite. Not in Azerbaijan, so do it J

Transport
The cheapest transport in Baku is Metro. It has 23 stations in three lines (“28 May” station is the middle one, where you can change the lines). “Ichari Sheher”, “Sahil” and “28 May” metro stations are situated in the central part of Baku. Train Station is situated just near “28 May” metro station. For using metro, you need to buy a Metro Card, which will cost you 2 AZN. Don’t worry, you can always give your card back (only in metro station “28 May”) and get your 2 AZN. Single entrance will cost you 20 qepik.
Buses in Baku mostly cost 20-30 qepik. It can be more also, depends from the direction and distance of bus line. You don’t need to buy ticket for bus. When you leave the bus, you pay your money directly to the driver or to the guy, who is called “conductor”.
There is only one bus to/from airport. It is number 16. You can get it near park “Samad Vurghun”, which is close to metro station “28 May”. It moves each 30 minutes.
There are also shared taxis to airport from metro station “Koroglu”. Per person they charge 2-3 AZN. If you want to go alone from that station till airport, of course, it is closer than from “28 May”, and it will cost you 5 AZN. Drivers may ask more from you, but don’t raise the price.

Things which u MUST do in Baku
- Drink tea and smoke Shisha (In Azerbaijani language Shisha is called “Galyan”). Azerbaijanis got a huge tea culture. The best place for me, it is close to center, place called Finjan. It is close to the intersection of Alovsat Guliyev and Resul Rza streets. Shisha+tea+Jam for tea will cost you ONLY 10 AZN. It is cheapest and totally local place (not fancy) in Baku.
- Visiting Mountain Park (In Azerbaijani it is called “Dagh ustu Park”). You have to go up from metro station “Icheri Sheher” towards to Parliament. At this park you will see a great panorama of Baku, graveyard with heroes of Azerbaijan from Black January (in night of 19-20 January Soviet Union army attacked Baku and killed about 167 civilians) and fire temple. Also you will be very close to Flame Tower (Three huge buildings). Close to it, you will see the memorial monument of the greatest Azerbaijani soldier Hazi Aslanov, Mosque and memorial park of Turkish soldiers, who helped to Azerbaijan in 1918 to get their first independence (First independence of Azerbaijan was in May 28 of 1918 year. It listed only 23 month, till 1920 year).
- Visiting Old City (In Azerbaijani it is called “Icheri Sheher”. Yes, like metro station name). To be honest, I don’t know a lot about Old City. But, I highly advice you to visit Shirvanshahs Palace and Maiden Tower. Also the streets are very nice. For reaching to Old City, it is enough to arrive to metro station “Icheri Sheher”.
- Visiting Carpet Museum (new one) and History Museum. They are very close to Old City.
- Visiting Ateshgah (fire temple). There you can see the ancient Azerbaijanis. It is in area Surkhani. It is hard to say for me, how you can reach there, but for sure there are buses to that direction. Usually, I am going there by car. If you take car from metro station “Mashadi Azizbayov”, it will be cheaper for you.
- Visiting Gobustan (Rock Musuem) and Mod volcanoes. For going to Gobustan, you need to take bus near SOCAR (Azerbaijanis call this place “Azneft”) towards to “Elet” region. Bus may cost you 30 qepik. Ask from them to stop near Gobustan road. From there you will need to take a taxi. 6-7 AZN is a normal price for going to museum and back to that road. But if you want also to visit Mod volcanoes, then you can combine the prices and deal for both of these places, as they are close to each other. 15 azn is a great price for doing trip Road-Gobustan-Mod Volcanoes-Road. Pay money in the end.
- Walking in Bulvar. It is huge seaside park. It is in the center. Closest metro station to there is “Sahil” (which also means “seaside”).
- Eating different kind of kebabs. My favorite one is Saj Kebab. The best restaurant for it is very close to Central Statistical Committee, called “Efsane” (Legend). Bill for two persons can reach 20-25 AZN. Depends what you will order. Take assorti meat saj.
- Eating Gutab and Shor. You can find them in many places. Gutab is best for me near the metro station “28 May”, place is called “Nenemin Tendiri”. One Gutab will cost you 30 qepik. Shor you can find in bazaars with vegetables.
- Caspian Sea tour by boat. These boats you can find in two parts of Bulvar: in the beginning and in the end of seaside park. One trip (30 minutes) per person will cost 2 AZN. It worth to pay this money!
I think for a short trip this list is enough. Of course, this is not all, what are exists in Baku, but for sure, people can help you to find out about all what you need. There is tourist information center in Baku, near Central National Post office (Azerpocht). It is 10 minutes walking distance from metro station “Sahil”.
Night Life in Baku
Pubs – is the place, where people are hanging out in Baku. You can also drink in the streets, it is NOT forbidden. Sometimes, I am buying beers with my friends and going to drink in Bulvar (Seaside park). Almost all pubs have live music. Recommended pubs are Otto, Pacifico, Eleven, Phoenix and Opera Sky. The choice of yours depends from age and taste of music. Normally little beer cost there 3 AZN, half liter 4 AZN.
Locals have also another way of partying. There is a nice place called “Pivnushka”. It is 10 minutes walking distance from metro station “28 May”. You can order food and bring your OWN alcohol there. . That place is cheap place.
Ah, almost forgot. For eating cheap food, it is nice to go besides “Pivnushka” also to “Qardashlar”, near the entrance of metro station “Sahil”. Prices are affordable there.
Night life in Baku can be very extra ordinary for you. Try to find party people. Yes, if you will see in pubs many guys, don’t be surprised. Sometimes, it happens. Just try to enjoy with your own company. Use www.couchsurfing.com for finding hangout mates.
Remember, that Baku has unlimited possibilities for relaxing. Just you need to see all in a correct way!