Baku was a curious place. Rural Azerbaijan was a very natural feeling synthesis of what we’d seen in Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and Georgia, plus more apparently rich people, and a tendency to build ornate walls around scruffy areas. Baku was thus, writ large.
We came into Baku on a big busy highway, amongst increasingly smart, and large, cars & SUVs, generally driven quite soberly. They and the trucks must have been newish, too, as the air quality wasn’t so bad for a city. Buildings got smarter and newer, until in the centre, it felt very developed. There were gleaning new public buildings, malls, loads of swanky shops, and innumerable little phone shops. There were gleaming limousines, a Bentley showroom, and in the car park also serving the hotel, I spotted two cars fitted with the pricey option of the Valeo Surround View system I used to work on: Never seen so many in Europe!
We spent an unnecessarily long time in Baku, because we took a while to be ready to buy our ferry tickets. There were things to see and do, but to a lesser extent than Tbilisi. Here we are seeing and doing old Baku:
Yes, those are London taxicabs: Baku ordered 1,000 of them a few years ago.
Baku is not liked by every visitor. Perhaps it’s a bit raw. The new bits have no history yet, and the old bits are few, or it seems that way because they were often restored so as to look new. And perhaps there’s a suspicion it is trying very hard to look grand, but not doing so much for the locals. Yet it seemed a perfectly good place to just be. And reasonably safe to cycle around in, albeit in great loops because of the one way systems.
The hotel was the Guest House Inn, with a guest kitchen which helped keep costs down, comfy beds, and helpful staff. Hope the sick kitten made it! We used both 2Teker and Velosport (?) bike shops, conveniently they’re in almost the same road. Both a bit limited for cycle tourists, but we didn’t need much (although dry weather lube would’ve been good). Couldn’t find anyone selling “outdoor gear” although this shop situation was reversed in Aqtau.