Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mud volcanoes (!) and petroglyphs

How cool is that! Burping, cold mud burbling out of the earth. These, near Gobustan, are about an hour south of Baku, very near the coast (Caspian Sea)

And, in the same area--wonderful rock formations, and ancient petroglyphs

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


A strange place! On the shiny Metro (I hear you get fined for chewing gum), each train hasVIP (“Gold”)seating, and a car only for women.
The Metro covers some serious distance—my quest to reach an Asian shopping area takes 50 minutes and 16 stops, yet we are still some distance from the edge of town.

Flocks of shining sky scrapers—30-40 stories high-- seeming to vie with each other for world height records. There is almost nothing on the ground between them, spaced out; appearing as hair plugs on a vast bald head.

I pass by—OMG--a golf course. This is for real desert, so obvious, then a green golf course. No one out there at this time—2 pm on a 104°day.

We stay at a 5-star hotel :-)  at Ibn Batutta Gate.  Named after 13th C explorer Ibn Batutta, who set out from his native Morocco for the Haj to Mecca, and found he liked traveling so well that he spent the rest of his life visiting Moslem lands, never taking the same road twice.

The hotel and the nearby shopping mall have floors or wings dedicated to each area he visited. We stayed on the Turkey floor.

Ibn Batutta gate
from the hotel elevator

Three grown women, who climbed on a camel statue in the hotel lobby

Dubai is known for its shopping malls; Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Mall, Ibn Batuttta Mall. They are amazing, and vast. Honestly, what else is there to do in a desert city anyhow. A newspaper article promoting good health exhorts us to “shop until the weight drops off.”

The indoor ski slopes at Mall of the Emirates
Detail from on of the wings of Ibn Batutta Mall--maybe Persia?

Migrant workers lining up at the mall to send remittances home

n line at the checkout at the malls' enormous supermarket, I note a lady’s shoes poking out from underneath her abaya: Skechers.

The entire country, as, I gather, much of the Gulf, is run in a day to day sense, by people from other countries: migrant workers.  The shopkeepers make me feel as if I am in Manila. Fabulous service. Imagine stepping into a Walgreens to find someone waiting to ask "May I help you find something?"
At our hotel, people in varying shades of brown serve us US, British, and Saudi tourists and business people, along with, one day, a busload of Chinese.

Just LOVE the clouds painted on the ceiling in the mall

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Exciting escalator excavations

They must have all come on the same boat—15 foot chunks of escalator wrapped in white plastic, placed in readiness at various downtown intersections. How long has the excavation under busy city streets been going on, I wonder.  Before long, we hapless pedestrians will find underground havens, with the ability to pass underneath traffic while possibly viewing hawkers' wares or admiring some bit of public art. One passageway under the Bulvar sports marble half-vases mounted on marble shelves placed against mirrors, which complete the image, providing the vases’ other halves. T and I will benefit greatly from the new passageway under Azneft Square near our apartment. We cross the streets there daily, sometimes using the timed walk light that allows almost enough time to make it, or K more often darting across the road, happy when there is some local to follow and share the thrill.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Baku bits II

Seen ~

Cell phone towers disguised as palm trees--I was fooled!

Legions of  gardeners, keeping the many city squares and parks trimmed

At the supermarket:
  • iceberg lettuce $9
  • tofu $7
  • mouthwash $14

Restaurant name:  WINE AND MEAT  (reminiscent of Drink & Sing in Beirut)


K started teaching at a private language school, 1 - 3 kids ages 6 - 10, so far 4 hours a week but no more than 8 (by choice). That and continuing Azerbaijani language classes make for a good schedule. That and lots of travel: life the next two years!

T and K on a boat ride around Baku harbor
And lovely new friends, at dinner in the Old City


Main street of Lahic town
Some kind soul at Tom's school arranged a weekend trip to Lahic, three hours north west of Baku, in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains. Beautiful scenery, and a very photogenic village (my pix don't do it justice).

walking crew
We decided to walk to Lahic town from the cabins/resort where we were staying, even though it meant a steady uphill climb. Glad we didn't know just how far it was--after walking for three hours a couple of us began to tire and acepted a ride (which was, maybe, the fifth one that had been offered!) from a passing car. Glad we did as it turned out to be another three miles to the town. Tom and MaryBeth walked all the way... 

Had to try out a suspension bridge along the way.

And check out a roadside stall

In town, interesting sights,
Elderly gentleman in fine hat (Persian lamb, we learn), willing to be photographed
samovar, anyone?

great hats for sale
craftsman at work

handmade metal work for sale
And back at the resort--

some of the group, with breakfast tea

and whence it came