Tuesday, March 15, 2005


The most tourist-oriented part of Azerbaijan would be the city of Baku. From the mysterious century's old Maiden's Tower on boulevard, and the Palace of the Sirvan Shahs built in the 15th century, Baku offers up it's historical presence with the Caspian Sea lapping at the city's door. The ancient walled city section"the old city" of Baku, the Maiden Tower, and the Palace were designated a World Heritage site by
UNESCO in 2000.

"the Walled City of Baku represents an outstanding and rare example of an historic urban ensemble and architecture with influence from the Zoroastrian, Sassanian, Arabic, Persian, Ottoman and Russian cultures" says UNESCO and after visiting the city the description is overshadowed by the reality. It is antiquity. It is civilizations mixed over the centuries.

Close by Baku is the Clangerland Mud Volcanoes and ancient petroglyphs. The town of Surakhani, about 20 km northeast of Baku, is home to the Zoroastrian Fire Temple. The area was noted over the centuries where fire came out of the land, this all on the fact the area was one of the richest oil deposits in the world. Ancients came from many nearby lands to collect "fire fuel" Since recent time and heavy oil Barron exploitation over the years, the oil has been depleted from the land, but Oil Rigs stand out in the Caspian within site of Baku and modern day Oil recovery continues to be a major source of revenue for the country at large.

There is a book one could write to describe more about Azerbaijan and TRAVELSAPIEN would suggest a visit now that the old Soviet rule is gone and Azerbaijan works to export it's potential as a major tourism destination. As to the Caspian area it is well worth it but in Azerbaijan do not expect the trappings of any western tourism destination. Expect it too be short of perfect with accommodation, transportation, highways and infrastructure not being to Western expectations. As to the people they are happy, fun loving, and can cook up a storm. Great food. Wonderful interaction. Great culture. Wonderful music. Good times, with almost no tourist trappings. Even finding T-shirts to take home is a difficult task. Enjoy the ancient surroundings. A region known for fabulous carpets. Make the trip. Azerbaijan lies on parts of the original SILK ROAD and it's history is notable.

It is hard to find Tour Operators that service the area as yet but for your own curiosity try www.azerbaijannews.net and www.bakuonline.com and www.parstimes.com so as to acquaint yourselves with the area. American Express is recognized with an agency called
www.si-travel.com and there is www.caspiantravel.com too. Out of the UK, but on line you might want to check out www.silkroadandbeyond.co.uk Going on your own it is best you can speak Russian or Azi or both. English is not widely spoken by the older generation although younger ones will give it a really good go. Suggestion is know you cannot expect language or service like New York. Then again New York? Hmmm.

If you really want to go "out of the box" TRAVELSAPIEN can say Azerbaijan is an adventurous tourists dream. Take advantage before the crowds discover it.
PS- As to Caviar. Ohhhhh my. The real thing. Extremely inexpensive by Western markets. If for nothing else try fresh caviar on a variety of fabulous local offerings be it bread, on top of eggs or out of the dish. Caspian caviar is worth saving up for. Forget western foods in Azerbaijan as the local fare is inexpensive and absolutely delightful. See you on the Boulevard.