2/9 – What do you do when you have an hour to wait in the station before your train arrives? You get a haircut, of course! I’ve been needing a trim for quite some time, but never had luck finding a women’s hair cutter in Turkey (there are barbers for men on every corner). With zero vocabulary in Georgian, I managed to communicate what I wanted, and my sassy stylist took it from there. Nice Person of Georgia!
Our sleeper train was sort of down-in-the-heels, yet was the most expensive ticket we’ve purchased.
I sure hope an accident does not appear!
We left at 5:30pm, rode for about an hour, then stopped for two hours to clear all the passengers through Customs – once on the Georgian side, then again over the border with Azerbaijan. That left us the rest of the night to make up our bunks and lie around in our little cabin. There was no dining car, and no snacks or anything for purchase. The cabin had no thermostat, and, true to our recent experience, the heat was set on 85F, so we had to keep opening the door to cool off. We drank most of our water, and wished we had more, but fell asleep eventually.
The train arrived in Baku right on time at 9:20 the next morning. Here is our sunrise through the train’s dirty window.
Coming in, the land was flat, featureless and brown.
However, once we arrived in the city, it was a different story. Lots of wealth here, courtesy of the oil industry.
There were designer boutiques everywhere – Dior, Gucci, Armani, and plenty of others.. Cars were bigger, newer and fancier than those we’ve seen in a while. Here is the shopping mall.
And here, believe it or not, is the KFC!
We booked at the Guest House Inn Hotel, and walked up and down the street, but couldn’t find it. A nice young man stopped to help us, called the hotel, got directions (it was on a court behind the street) and walked us there. Nice Person of Azerbaijan!
We walked to the Old City, where we found the Maiden Tower, one of the few remaining medieval buildings in the city.
There are several myths regarding the origins of the tower – it may have been built by sun worshipers (the sun shines directly through the portals on the Equinoxes), as a celestial observatory, a defensive fort, or a gift for a beautiful princess (hence the name). Here are the views from the top.
We planned to spend five days here, trying to book passage on a commercial ferry to Kazakhstan. To our great surprise, we got a call on our very first afternoon, and we’re on the ship by midnight. We didn’t even get to sleep in our lovely room at the Guest House Inn Hotel!
See the next post for details.