From Baku with Love

Since I am only writing on Sundays now, it does not really make sense continuing Wineweek as it is. My workload has increased both at my “adult job” as well as with Tripsteri, so I don’t find it enjoyable to write several times a week any more. But on Sundays, I feel relaxed and inspired, and writing this blog contributes to my overall sanity. But this is not the topic of today’s post. This week, I had the pleasure and honor to visit Azerbaijan for the first time in my life, and I took a few pictures from the coast of the Caspian sea as souvenirs.

Azerbaijan is one of these countries I have just not thought about that much in my life. I have never had any business or travel ambitions there. Getting there from Sweden is not that easy; travel time is long and you need to have a visa to enter. So when I heard the good news that I would be going to Baku, I really did not know what to expect. Baku is the capital and business hub of the country, one of the ancient cities along the Silk Road, and a significant port on the Caspian sea. Baku is also one of the major F1-locations, where the track is in the center of the city.

The most convenient route from Sweden to Baku is via Istanbul. Turkish airlines flies there several times a day. The other airline with daily flights is Azerbaijan airlines. Visa application can be finned online, and a standard entry is normally granted within two to three business days. The price of the visa is 48€. According to my colleagues, the best way to get around in Baku is with Uber.

What to see and do in Baku? I really did not have that much free time there. I only had a few hours in the afternoon, and decided to take a walk along Bulvar, the boulevard on the sea with great views to the old part of the city. If I had had a whole day, I would have also visited the Icheri Sheher, which is the old city in the heart of Baku, the Maiden Tower, one of the oldest buildings in Baku and the modern Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center, which is one of the most impressive architectural sites in the city. There are some amazing buildings in Baku. On a clear day, it is a photographers dream.

And now to the interesting part. Azerbaijan has a long history in making wine, dating  back to the second millennium BC. This is one of the oldest wine making regions in the world, with neighboring Georgia, Iran, Armenia and Greece. However, wine making in Azerbaijan was almost wiped out during the 20th century communist rule, and is now lifting its head as the country becomes more open to the world. Azerbaijan has a mountainous geography, and its close location to the large Caspian Sea creates a vast diversity of macro and microclimates. I had the pleasure of tasting an Azeri Chardonnay, Savalan (2016) from Aspi Winery, with vineyards are southeast of the Caucasus Mountains at an altitude of 400m above sea level. It was a simple table wine, meant I suppose for tourists as it was quite heavily marketed at the airport, but I was not at all half bad. I am curious to try out more on my coming trips to Baku.

I only spent 48 hours in the city, but I am very keen on going back. Perhaps in the spring though. As you see from the pictures, the weather in February is as charming as November in Sweden. The humid and rainy weather made for some cool photos from along the seaside boulevard.

xx Soile

The mysterious Caspian sea
The docks on the Bulvar
Seaside boulevard with views to the old city
A spot of color from the Azeri flag

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