We knew that having Armenian stamps in our passports would not stand us in good stead at the Azeri border crossing, but after only 20 minutes of polite questioning and constant reassurance that we had never been to Nagorno-Karabakh we soon found ourselves in yet another Lada taxi, Sheki bound.
We gave ourselves a couple of days to explore this town, visiting the ancient caravansary, sipping teas and sampling sugary sweets before taking the old soviet style night train down to the capital city, Baku. After a long journey we were inconvenienced by our airbnb host, who’s apartment we had booked suddenly became unavailable. Nevertheless we headed straight to the Uzbekistan Embassy to sort out our visa’s (it would take a least two weeks because Olof needed a special letter, a letter of invitation). With no apartment to stay in, we decided to head up to the highest and remotest village in Azerbaijan, Khinaliq, a drive not for the faint hearted. On route we befriended a local man, Ramin, who showed us around his home town of Quba, best known for it’s population of Mountain Jews. Back in Baku, we had better luck second time round with our airbnb host, who allowed us to spend almost one month in her penthouse apartment near fountain square, where every morning became a pancake breakfast brunch.
Just when we thought our day couldn’t get any better we met a famous travel writer, Mark Elliot, who showed us some of Baku’s hidden gems. After attending the First European Games opening ceremony, most of our time in Baku then became consumed by the necessity to obtain visa’s for Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, Turkmenistan, Iran and China, it’s was quite the feat, resulting in Azeri visa extension requests and obtaining that is a story in itself.
So whilst we battle the visa bureaucracies, we met with a local Permaculturist, Amir, who takes us to visit his brothers horses and small holding and cultural sites around the city. We celebrate Anna’s birthday on the edge of the Caspian sea, we scrap the idea of going to Iran as the Brits visa just isn’t materialising. It’s took some 35 days after arriving in Azerbaijan to have all our visa’s in hand and so off we went to Alat to board a cargo ship, Turkmenbashi bound.
Click the interactive map to see the places we visited during our thirty-six days in Azerbaijan.
1) Sipping Tea in the ancient caravansary in Sheki.
2) Enjoying a night out on the time with famous travel writer Mark Elliot.
3) Going to the opening ceremony of the First European Games and listening to Lady Gaga sing “Imagine” live.
4) Becoming good friends with Emil, Azerbaijan’s first Permaculture designer and consultant.
5) Spreading Permaculture knowledge to the villagers of Khinaliq and inspiring them to build rocket stove mass heaters.
1) The amount of time, energy and money invested into obtaining visa’s for central Asia
2) Having to fake an injury in order to be able to extend our Azeri visa.
3) Anna’s mild but seemingly constant deli belly and Olof’s squat toilet nightmare.
4) Feeling like we keep getting slightly ripped off every once in a while.
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