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Trip Report Short Trip notes on Baku

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I was the chairman of a panel and a keynote speaker at a conference in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Here are some notes from our two day trip there with my wife. I should also state that the azeris were excellent hosts.

We're back in istanbul. Baku was much more developed than we expected. the people were very friendly, especially to Turks, but they were also very shy. The girls were always dressed up and stand-offish, except when they were dancing to the rock and roll of a good Italian group, as on out last night of the conference, followed by an excellent show of Azeri folk dances and spectacular drum and clarinet show.

One remnant of the russian occupation was that ground floor was "1" but there was a "0" on the elevator call button at the Park Inn, which made us wait a long period at our floor after punching "0" and staring hopefully at the never-opening elevator doors.

There are some difficulties in visiting Azerbaijan, mainly in terms of the visa taking 7-14 days. New 5-7 star hotel capacity is increasing very rapidly in Baku. The Hilton will open soon, The Marriott is on the way and twin sisters to the famous Burj of Dubai tower already loom over the landscape with views of the Caspian Lake (not "sea" because the "sea designation apparently would give more oil retrieval rights to Russia which the other Caspian bordering countries do not like, understandably)

Traffic can be horrendous in the evening on the wide boulevard bordering the huge park by the coast. Somebody must have taught the drivers that when the roads are not jammed you should drive in between lanes by taking the lane dividers as a help to your driving in a straight line. On the other hand, due to a general lack of traffic lights for pedestrians, pedestrians may cross anywhere and cars will usually stop for them, especially if they are in groups of three or more and thus more visible.

The parks are nice, the old town has similarities to medieval European towns. There are almost no tauts and very few tourist shops. We could not find any guide books or maps. Unfortunately, had no time to visit any museums.

We tried to buy a painting or a small sculpture but found them to be over-priced and not good value at the only gallery we could locate during our short stay. Managed to receive the name of an artist but could not find his address so that we could visit him at his studio. We did not ask the prices of the carpets which were the most frequently sold items in the tourist shops.

Service at restaurants is usually poor. We got by better on our Turkish than in English, but even then, it was difficult to get dry wine or paper napkins. We also found restaurants to be rather expensive, especially in view of the income levels of the Azeri middle classes.

We will post some photographs at webshots under my wife’s name. Just google esercelebiler

OC

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