The Caucasus – Hits and Misses

September 2018

Of all the 84 countries I have traveled in the past 46 years, I have to admit to knowing the least about the countries of the Caucasus – Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia. Little is written about this area beyond snippets of information, a few news flashes, and, if you know an Armenian, possibly you are aware of the atrocious genocide of the twentieth century. When I informed my credit card of my travels, I had to spell Azerbaijan for them (after memorizing how to spell it myself) and inform them that Georgia was a country by Russia, not a state near Florida. (more…)

Sheki – Republic of Azerbaijan

14-15 September 2018

Today is what busy travelers call a day of rest. We board a bus, greet our driver, strap into our seats, and just go along for the ride. These are days I love because I can relax, gaze at the countryside, observe village life, and see what Azerbaijan looks like outside its modern capital of Baku.

We drive northwest along “one of the most scenic routes in Azerbaijan.” (Actually, Google maps shows it is the only road.)  (more…)

Baku – From Rock Art to Hell Fire

9-13  September 2018

Gobustan petroglyphs

The Absheron Peninsula has long been a coveted location. Jutting into the Caspian Sea, one flies into Heydar International over the largest inland sea on Earth. Its shores were home to not only early civilization, but the long dead organisms, fossils and marine life that produced immense deposits of fossil fuel. Azerbaijan: petroglyphs, Starbucks, Tiffany’s, beaches and crude oil – all in one spot.  

My friend Kathy and I have joined an Eldertrek tour to usher us about the Caucasus. Our first stop will be Gobustan National Park (UNESCO), just 38 miles southwest of Baku along the spectacular Caspian Sea. It is an interesting drive past countless oil wells, arid expanses of land, tall apartments built atop old oil pumping sites, and over an impressive highway system.  (more…)

Baku Azerbaijan “The Windy City”

9-13 September 2018

The ‘Mad Hatter’ drives us from the Heydar Aliyev International Airport using wide avenues of multiple lanes, flashing his headlights to move others from our path. Government official or royal family? Actually, a Baku Grand Prix hopeful. The Baku City Circuit, a motor racing circuit constructed along these boulevards, is the second-longest circuit on the Formula One racing calendar. I think we are being treated to an example of ‘driving the circuit’.

Our little taxi careens and tailgates toward our hotel, certainly beating his previous land record. We exit our taxi in laughter of relief. This was our initiation into the insane driving of Baku. The Baku Grand Prix may run each April, but these wide, one-way streets appear designed more for a Ferrari than a Kia or Lada.

I have landed in Azerbaijan.  (more…)