Heading Home

After returning to Da Nang, it was time to make plans to head back to Canada around the third week of April, this is when our latest visa would be expiring. We decided not to travel east, back across the Pacific, instead travelling west.
We left Da Nang around noon on a flight to Bangkok, this is where we would catch a connecting flight to Doha, Qatar. We arrived at 10:30pm but had an 8-hour layover, we decided a few days prior to leaving, not to leave the airport and stay in a hotel.

Doha, International Airport.

Photos of Doha from our departing flight:

Snow on the mountains in western Iran.

Our first destination would be Baku, Azerbaijan, we would be here for 14 days. We arrived around noon and arranged a taxi to the hotel, as the driver we had booked from the hotel  did not turned up. This hotel came highly recommended by ‘Booking’ an 8.5 out of 10 on ‘Booking’s’ scale which has been reliable in our past usage. When we arrived, we found it was not up to standard, on our scale about a 2 out of 10! The photos on ‘Booking’ must have been taken just after they had refurbished, which in our estimation must have been 20 years ago.
The management informed us they had another hotel in the ‘Old City’ which they would allow us to stay at for the same price. They transported us to this other hotel where we viewed 3 rooms. One was OK and would suffice for our stay. The location turned out to be good for our needs.

After taking a walk to find our bearings it was off to dinner, we found a restaurant just by chance which had very good local food. The locals eat lots of Lamb, Beef, and fresh locally grown produce, they also produce wine in Azerbaijan which we also sampled.

Our first Meal.

Next day we did some exploring, purchased local Sim cards for our phones and found a local tourist company. We booked two trips, one to some Petroglyphs, a burning mountain, and a Historical Temple, the other to a town that was part of the old ‘Silk Road’, this was to be a full day’s trip 7am to 11pm. On both these trips they provided transport and meals.

We had breakfast in the hotel the first couple of mornings, this was served on the top floor of the hotel, these are some of the views:

The following are photos from our self-tour of the city.

The following are from; in and around the ‘Old City’ which is a walled city.

Maiden Tower

The Maiden Tower (Azerbaijan language: Qız qalası) (Persian language: قلعه دختر) is a 12th-century monument in the city of Baku, Azerbaijan. Along with the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, dated to the 15th century, it forms a group of historic monuments listed in 2001 under the UNESCO World Heritage List of Historical Monuments as cultural property, Category III. It is one of Azerbaijan’s most distinctive national emblems, and is thus featured on Azerbaijan Manat and official letterheads.

The Maiden Tower houses a museum, which presents the story of the historic evolution of Baku city. It also has a gift shop. The view from the roof takes in the alleys and minarets of the Ichar Shahar, the Baku Boulevard, the Isa bek Hajinski’s House and a wide vista of the Baku Bay.

The Tower is covered by cloud of mysteries and legends which are rooted to the History of Azerbaijan and Culture of Azerbaijan. Indeed, some epics became a subject for scenario for ballets and theatre’s plays. The Maiden Tower (ballet) is a world-class masterpiece of the Azerbaijani Ballet created by composer Afrasiyab Badalbeyli in 1940 and ballet’s remake was performed in 1999.

Consequent to the receding of the sea shoreline of the Caspian Sea, a strip of land emerged. This land was developed between the 9th and 15th centuries, when the walls of the old city, the palace including the huge bastion of the Maiden Tower were built. (Wikipedia)

After our exploring it was time to sample a local beer, we found a small bar on the edge of the tourist downtown area.

This sign was posted in the bar:

The interpretation is: The women said “Don’t drink.” The man said “Don’t need a woman, Cheers.”

After seeing the three towers on top of the hill behind the old city we ventured out to see them close-up. This was quite the slog up the hill to the top.

One of these buildings houses the ‘Fairmount Baku’ Hotel. Across the street a ‘Highland Park’ where you can find the Mosque of the Martyrs and Martyrs Lane which has plaques for the fallen.

The Mosque of the Martyrs (“Azerbaijani language”: Şəhidlər məscidi), also popularly known as the Turkish Mosque, is a mosque in Baku, Azerbaijan, near the “Martyrs’ Lane”. The mosque was built in the beginning of the 1990s with assistance of the Turkey government. The mosque currently is used as an official residence of religious attaché of the Turkish embassy. The mosque has been under construction since 2009. (Wikipedia)

Martyrs’ Lane or Alley of Martyrs (Şəhidlər Xiyabanı), formerly known as the Kirov Park, is a cemetery and memorial in Baku, Azerbaijan dedicated to those killed by the Soviet Army during the ‘Black January’ of 1990 and in the First Karabakh War of 1988–1994.

At the end of Martyr’s Lane there stands the Shahidlar Monument.

Shahidlar Monument, Baku, Azerbaijan
The Baku Turkish Martyrs’ Memorial is a memorial dedicated to the Ottoman soldiers killed during the World War I in Azerbaijan. It is situated within the Martyrs’ Lane in Baku. It consists of a monument, an alley with name plates of the martyrs and a mosque.
1,130 Turkish soldiers and officers of the Army of Islam were killed in action in the Battle of Baku of Caucasus Campaign, who fought alongside the Azerbaijani forces against the Bolsheviks–Armenian Dashnaks and Baku Soviets in 1918.
The monument was designed by Turkish architects Hüseyin Bütüner and Hilmi Güner in the form of a two-story pyramidal frustum with square bases, of which truncated corners are carved out so that it appears as a sort of octagonal frustum. (Epic Azerbaija Culture & Adventure Route © Monika Newbound)

There is also a ‘Lookout’ at this point with views of Baku and the coast.

On one of our strolls, we came across a monument to Nikola Tesla.

Monument to Nikola Tesla Azerbaijani language (Nikola Teslanın heykəli) is a monument to the Serbian scientist Nokola Tesla, located in the capital of Baku, Azerbaijan, in a park at the crossing of the Azadlig Avenue and the Suleiman Rahimov Street. The monuments authors are the Peoples Artist of Azerbaijan, the sculptor “Omar Eldarov” and the architect Sanan Salamzade. The monument is cast from bronze. Its height together with the pedestal is 3.3 meters.
The monument is set against the background of a decorative panel depicting one of Tesla’s main inventions – an alternator. The opening ceremony of the monument took place on 8 February 2013. The ceremony was attended by the President of Azerbaijan, “Ilham Aliyev”, the First Lady of Azerbaijan, Mehriban Aliyeva, the President of Serbia, “Tomislav Nikolic”, and the First Lady of Serbia, Dragica Nikolic. At the opening ceremony, the presidents delivered speeches. (Wikipedia)

Next: Azerbaijan

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