14 May 2013

Into Azerbaijan

Being massively behind on writing anything about Georgia I'm going to start again on Azerbaijan and will try and finish writing about Georgia at some point - maybe on the ship across the Caspian.

Days 16 & 17 - 10 & 11 May 2013

The border crossing for Georgia in to Azerbaijan was surprisingly simple; given the headaches I had getting the visa sorted I was surprised at how easy it was to get across - 30 minutes end-to-end to leave Georgia and enter Azerbaijan. Well, that is what it was for the passengers, the truck always takes longer - another 2 hours by the time all the paperwork was sorted. That was 2 hours of sitting on the tarmac in the sun, as there is nothing once you cross. Next time I'll take a book. And my sunglasses. And sunscreen.

One thing became very obvious once we'd crossed the border and started heading for Sheki (our stop for the night) - the Lada car is still really common (popular?) here. Yes there were quite a few in Georgia, but Azerbaijan is The place to be if you're a fan of Ladas. I'm wonder if I can get one of the 4x4 ones with right hand drive for home. Perfect for London! ;-)
A Lada which looks like it's a contender for the Azerbaijany edition of Pimp My Ride is well worth seeing.

Sheki itself is a small town which isn't massively interesting - there is Khan's Palace and that it mostly just for the "huh, so they really knew how to do woodwork back then" factor - no nails or glue in the building, just joins. We'll, none apart from the replacement floor which has been put down - someone decided nailing that down would be a good idea. *sigh*

Given our inability to speak any of the local language getting dinner was entertaining for all involved (us, the guy who ran the place, his other customers) - I've still no idea what we ordered and if it has any relationship to what we ate; tasty either way.

Breakfast on day 17 was the source of much amusement - having left the hotel at 7am we have bush "camped" breakfast on route to Baku. Given that there was no where really suitable, we ended up having breakfast in a bite of scrubland next to a major road - anyone for breakfast on the hard shoulder of the M1? It's effectively what we did.
The entertainment comes from the confused looks on the drivers at 9 people having a picnic on the side of the road.

The rest of the days driving towards Baku was dull, with the exception of finding a tree growing in the middle of the road. Not something that had fallen on to the road, not something which had fell off a lorry, but actually growing up through to road. A main road.

The day was mostly about driving - the whole route through this Caucuses is because we can't go through Iran at the moment, which most, if not all, on the truck would have preferred. Alas global politics is what it is - a shame, as from what I've heard Iran is a really nice place, not that Georgia and Azerbaijan aren't, and that your average Iranian is a very friendly and welcoming person - as are the people of Georgia and Azerbaijan.
The pushing with the driving was to get to Baku as quickly as we could, as there isn't a scheduled boat service from Baku to Turkmenistan; the boat goes when the boat goes and Olly & Jan needed to start getting it sorted.

There was time to stop in Gobustan to see the Petroglyphs and mud volcanoes, both of whish were well worth seeing.

Our bed for the night was a random field about 60Km from Baku. Just us and a heard of sheep which stopped by for a visit.