13 Jun

Baku, originally uploaded by Big Al!.

Azerbaijan has been miles of nothing but poverty, with mostly unfriendly people and very few facilities like cash machines, hotels, petrol stations that take credit cards. At one petrol station today, all the attendants had gold teeth, in numbers seemingly proportional to age. Albania was nothing but petrol stations, azerbaijan is nothing but furniture shops. Road to Baku under construction, as with so many other roads we’ve been on. When it finally led on to the recently finished part at the baku end, with perfectly smooth tarmac, it was a joy and a relief. It’s really getting hot now, over 40 today. Azerbaijan landscape could be mars at times, really odd and getting properly desert-like. Italian driving is manic, albanian driving is crazy, in azerbaijan it’s just moronic. Dave put it best; "like driving the wrong way up a dual carriageway". All of a sudden, baku appears and is a huge city with modern hotels, fashion shops, glitzy buildings, luxury cars. Totally unexpected, and utterly incongruous. Finally found a hotel cheap enough, unfortunately no wifi, air con, proximity to city centre, or any clean surfaces. We found a half decent bar, suprisingly with english speaking staff and a private booth with our own tv, including CNN in english. They also have an english menu. I’m hoping for much better things tomorrow, once we get the bikes safely behind the line at ferry customs before the transit visas for our bikes run out. With our beer comes chicken wings. It turns out to be a whole baby chicken, about 3 inches long. Tasty, but insubstantial. Baku looks like an amazing place, so i’m really hoping we get lucky with finding a hotel and the ferry port, and that we can enjoy some of what the city has to offer.