Baku Azerbaijan.

It’s not jazz, not culture, not the great art and not the Abşeron’s offbeat curiosities that keep most backpackers hanging around in Baku. Most are simply waiting for a Caspian ferry. In principle ferries run to Turkmenbashi, Turk-menistan (passenger US$50, several weekly) and Aktau, Kazakhstan (passenger/motorbike/vehicle US$60/137/55-per-metre-length, a few times monthly). But they are primarily rail-cargo ships and don’t care a jot about their passengers, and timetables don’t exist. Ships leave virtually without warning as soon as the cargo is loaded. Or wait days if there isn’t enough.

Be prepared for extreme frustration even once aboard and ask other prospective travellers (often to be found thumb-twiddling at the 1000 Camels Hostel) as to the latest ticket-purchasing procedure: it seems to change all the time. The ticket office is a tiny, sporadically open window on the port access road, around 15 minutes’ walk from Government House. Although it won’t sell you anything till the night before departure, still go there, put your name on the list and get the mobile phone number of whoever is the duty agent. Then keep calling!


HOTELS - A lot of tourists, planning their trip to any country, think about: what is cheaper – to stay at any hotel or to rent daily apartment. Concerning Azerbaijan, I’ve understood, that is cheaper to rent an apartment. Why? I am explaining: Looking through the Internet, I was shocked, the prices in Baku hotels are higher than in Paris. For information – when I’ve been in France, I stayed at hotel in Opera block by 35 euro per night. In Baku I did not find such price. So I decided to rent daily apartment. Through the searching system, I have found several real estate agencies: Caspian Estate, New Europe etc. Making a request to these companies, I was offered apartments in the centre of Baku by 100$ per night (the same price as in hotels). As you understand, such price hits tourist in his pocket.

CHEAP DAILY APARTMENT IN THE CITY CENTRE - So I decided to find any information on Russian and foreign tourist forums (such as Lonelyplanet, Virtualtourist etc.), thinking that the people, who are the members of such forums, travel a lot and can give me useful advices. An I was right: a lot of links and tips about Baku, Azerbaijan. I knew that there is no hostel in Azerbaijan and also have read many appreciations about BakuRealEstate company, to which I decided to make a request. In BakuRealEstate company I was offered the apartment in the centre of Baku by 35 manat per night. Of course, at first the low price embarrassed me, but I was offered free of charge apartment’s preview and I decided to try. Anyway, if I did not like the apartment, I’d stay at any hotel. But, thanks God, everything was ok and the apartment was quite well: in several minutes walking from Fountain Square, with all necessary facilities by 35 per night.

USEFUL ADVISES - In addition, I was given a lot of useful advises by company’s real estate agent – where I can buy at a low price different souvenirs (Khagani shopping centre on Torgovaya str, second floor) and of course caviar (on Taza Bazar or in Caspian Fish Co fish monger ). Also where I can taste delicious and chip local cuisine (Nargiz restaurant on Fountain Square, Faeton restaurant with medieval decoration on 17’Rashid Beybutov str., by the way, there you can taste hookah and also L’aparte restaurant on 51’ Istiglaliyat str. ).

FOOD - I can advise: gutabs (with meat and green), different kinds of dolma (from grapes leaves and stuffed pepper/tomato/aubergine) and different kinds of kababs ( sturgeon, potato, tomato, aubergine, and from meat: lula-kabab, tika-kabab), buglama (soup with big piece of meat), fried hen-lavangi (hen stuffed with walnut and pomegranate).

And a lot of different delicious sweets: pakhlava, sheker-bura, gogal (better to buy in Cudo Pechka)

for info: - chaep accommodation in Baku