Photos -- Azerbaijan and Armenia

Old Aug 20th, 2008, 04:06 AM
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Photos -- Azerbaijan and Armenia

http://tinyurl.com/59rf7n

Since this region is variously considered by different sources to be in Europe, Asia and even the Middle East, I will cross-post. Even though the countries are not heavily touristed (except perhaps by diaspora Armenians, of whom I met many from Glendale, CA in Yerevan), maybe the photos will be of interest to some considering a trip to the Caucasus, an extremely historic and interesting part of the world.

Due to the lack of interest, I won't post a detailed daily trip report, but I am happy to answer questions, and will provide some short notes.

1. I had initially planned to visit Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, but circumstances conspired to force me to abandon my plans to visit Georgia.

2. I started in Baku, Azerbaijan, and did a day trip to Naxcivan, an Azeri exclave situated between Armenia and Iran. It would be simple to reach Naxcivan overland if the Azeri/Armenia land borders were open, so now Naxcivan can only be reached by air or overland via Iran. For that reason, most visitors fly from Baku (flights are heavily subsidized for locals, and for that reason are oversold and I was only able to get my tickets by coordinating with a "fixer").

3. To get to Yerevan, Armenia from Azerbaijan I had to route via Moscow (I had initially planned to travel via Georgia). If the air corridor was open between Baku and Yerevan the flight would have been less than an hour, but since there are no direct flights, you have to fly via a third country, and Russia is the easiest (although it is in effect equivalent to flying from NY to Boston via Miami).

4. In Armenia, I visited many of its historic sights, focusing on the southern part of the country (I would have visited the northern monasteries if I had been able to travel overland from Georgia, as I had originally planned). So, while Armenia has three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, I only visited two.

5. From Yerevan, I also made the long trip (10 hours or so with stops) to Nagorno-Karabackh, and Armenian enclave insider Azerbaijan. So, while N-K is technically part of Azerbaijan, its controlled by Armenia and can only be reached overland from Armenia. A visit to N-K also requires a separate visa (that can be picked up in Stepanakert, the capitol of N-K).

Michael
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Old Aug 20th, 2008, 04:38 AM
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Welcome back.
I always feel like I need to get an Atlas out before reading your reports.
It great to be transported.
Enjoyed your photos as well - especially the architecture which seems to be an interesting cross similiar to Turkey.
Some Greek, Roman and Ottoman.

I missed all the media frenzy about the invasions while in Africa. It's practically old news here.
Would love to hear your thoughts.
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Old Aug 25th, 2008, 05:10 AM
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Michael - Great photos!!!! You did better in your short visit than I did in 3 years! How did you get some of those buildings without people/cars in the way?

And I loved the ones from Teze Bazaar - that's where I got all my produce!

Glad you had a good time but sorry you missed out on Georgia.
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Old Aug 25th, 2008, 07:34 AM
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Thanks for the photos - very interesting. Please tell us more about the food, wine, hotels, interaction with the people.
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Old Oct 29th, 2008, 04:31 AM
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Michael did you also take a trip to Uzbekistan/Turkmenistan? I was sure I saw your photos of these countries but could not find the report...
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Old Oct 29th, 2008, 06:59 AM
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http://tinyurl.com/ytyfkw

ekscruncy, I only posted them in the Asia forum (the link to the photos is above, and some info is on the Asia forum -- you can find the thread by searching for Turkmenistan in the Asia branch).

My photos start in Kazakhstan, then into Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and finish in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Its a large region and I only skimmed the surface of these countries, and I would like to revisit, especially Uzbekistan, which was my favorite.

Are you planning a trip to that part of the world?
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Old Oct 29th, 2008, 02:12 PM
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Michael:

No, not planning anything to that area although a friend will be working around there.

I am reading, for the second time, a book entitled, " So Many Enemies, So Little Time," which covers several of the Stans..you might enjoy it since you have traveled there..the author was living in Krygystan (teaching journalism and not having an easy time of it, I might add!) and she traveled to several other countries from there including Afghanistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.
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Old Oct 29th, 2008, 02:28 PM
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Michael -

Just got to these. Can't keep up with you and your "off-the-beaten-track" destinations.

Pics are great. Certainly not highly traffic'd tourist areas. The architecture is amazing; lots similar to Turkey, as mentioned above.

Thanks for posting. And, now "where are you off to?"
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Old Oct 29th, 2008, 03:01 PM
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Very cool, Michael, thanks for sharing these. I would really like to emulate your trips to the 'Stans someday, and this one looks like it was also very unique.

Chris
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Old Oct 30th, 2008, 06:45 AM
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Chris, the Stans are incredibly scenic and photogenic, and far easier through which to travel than I had anticipated (I did a fair bit of research, and for the Stans booked a private tour with MIR Travel, who made transfers and border crossing far simpler than I could have done independently). MIR wanted a ridiculous amount of money for a private tour of the Caucaus, so I made my own arrangements.

Sandi, next big trip is end of December (Guam, Saipan, Palau, Yap, the Philippines from top to bottom, Malaysian Borneo and Brunei) -- I was miraculously able to use Continental miles for all the long-haul flights.

I am also going to "sqeeze in" a trip to Andorra over Thanksgiving (one of two Western European countries I haven't visited -- the other is San Marino, on my list for 2010).
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Old Oct 30th, 2008, 03:52 PM
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Your pictures are great! Thanks for sharing.
I have friends originally from Baku - hope to visit with them someday.


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Old Oct 31st, 2008, 04:04 AM
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Still can't believe I missed the chance to meet up with you in Baku by just a few weeks!!!!
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Old Oct 31st, 2008, 05:56 AM
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Grcxx3, are you back in Baku? It really is a beautiful city, especially all of the refurbished historic structures. I was certainly able to notice the difference in wealth (historic and current) between Baku and Yerevan.

I will be back -- I likely will need to fly thru Baku when I try again to visit Georgia (although I may be able to get into Georgia from eastern Turkey). But, that's years away. I'm fully booked through next August, and unfortunately no current plans to return to the Caucasus in the near term.
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Old Oct 31st, 2008, 09:29 AM
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(Guam, Saipan, Palau, Yap, the Philippines from top to bottom, Malaysian Borneo and Brunei)

Michael,
How are you traveling between these and what's covered by the CO award? Thanks for sharing your pics!
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Old Oct 31st, 2008, 10:36 AM
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Patty, its several tickets:

1) The main long haul is open-jaw with one stopover: from Newark to Yap (with stopover in Guam) and return from Manila, so that's treated as Pacific roundtrip (I think it was 120,000 CO miles)

2) While I am on my Guam stopover, I paid for a roundtrip to Saipan (also on Continental, but very cheap, so I didn't want to use miles)

3) One-way: Yap to Manila, with stopover in Palau (37,500 CO miles -- the same price as a roundtrip, even though I am only going one-way)

4) Three internal flights within the Philippines -- Manila to Davao // Davao to Cebu // Cebu to Manila (this allows me to get to the three main parts of Manila, and I'll spend a few days in each) (flights are on Cebu Air Pacific)

5) To get to Kota Kinabalu (Malaysian Borneo), I am flying Air Asia from Manila to KK

6) While in Kota Kinabalu, I will take one day trip (by air on Royal Brunei) from KK to Brunei (I think it will give me 12 or so hours in Brunei)
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Old Oct 31st, 2008, 10:40 AM
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Thanks for breaking it down!
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Old Oct 31st, 2008, 10:48 AM
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unfortunately we are gone from Baku for good. We moved back to the US (Houston) over the summer after the job in Moscow fell thru.
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Old Oct 31st, 2008, 11:30 AM
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Great pics again Michael! License plates and markets-thanks!
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Old Dec 18th, 2008, 08:07 AM
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Hello Michael, I feel I'm following you around the world. Last summer I travelled through the Balkans after reading your account (and looking at your pictures). Now, after reading The Orientalist, Ali and Nino and Blood and Oil in the Orient, I have to go to Baku. So discovered that's where you were recently! Great pictures. But the trip doesn't sound easy.
I see you are about to set off to Micronesia. I was there in the 70s, probably my experience is out of date by now. Did some of my travelling by Air Mike (as it was then) and bounced around on the MicroShips. Let me know if they are still operating, my husband had a hand in their design. Good luck.
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Old Dec 18th, 2008, 10:21 AM
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Gertie, perfect timing -- I am leaving in two hours, flying to Houston, where I'll overnight, and then fly via Tokyo to Guam, arriving on Saturday night. Then, I visit Saipan, Palua, Yap, the Philippines, Malaysian Borneo and Brunei, back sometime in January.
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