In 2013, I was in Tbilisi, Georgia, with another few weeks left on my trip. I eventually had to fly back to The Netherlands and decided to take the time to visit Azerbaijan. I got my visa through Victory Tour, while I was in Georgia. I sent them a copy of my passport, an application form, transferred the fee online and got my e-visa. I could just print it out and present it at the border. Quite easy! Then, I booked a WizzAir flight from Baku to Budapest and one from Budapest to Eindhoven, The Netherlands. This is how my three-month backpacking trip through Europe would come to an end. And what a fantastic trip it was!
But first, Azerbaijan, a country I had long wanted to travel to. I had always wondered what the country would look like, it's on the crossroads of east and west and north and south. A fascinating location on the Caspian Sea. Few travelers visit this country. I was a bit nervous to cross the border, especially because I already had an Armenian travel stamp in my passport. Yet, as I crossed the border by train from Georgia to Azerbaijan, there were no issues at all. Just a few questions about my trip and then the customs officer changed the subject to soccer, and then I knew I could cross. The people on board the train were all very friendly - the sleeper train was modern and comfortable. As I woke up in the morning, we were moving through a desert-like landscape, such a scenery I hadn't ever seen in my life. I know Azerbaijan has some very green and exotic landscapes, but then I'd have to venture out to the north a bit more.
We approached Baku. What an immense city. The suburbs take forever to cross and then there's the skyscrapers near the center. I got off the train and walked into the city life. As of 2013, I found the city to be quite expensive. However, this has changed as the tourism industry is developing quickly. Quite honestly, travel fatigue had set in. I decided to stay in the city mostly, I was exhausted from three months of carrying around my backpack and visiting new places every day. It was the first time I really settled down. I stayed in the apartment for hours, watching some good series and walking around the sea front at night. Honestly, I really enjoyed this laid-back part of my trip. I took it easy, made random trips by metro and visited many parks and pretty squares. Baku is a glamorous, modern city. It looks very wealthy. There's only expensive cars on the roads. People are well dressed. They are very polite towards their visitors. I really enjoyed the place. The sea front boulevard was so stunning I walked there every day. It's so spacious and clean, people enjoying themselves all around.
What a city - I never expected I'd enjoy Baku this much. Just by taking it slowly - giving it my time. I did make a day trip, to Elat to be precise. I was planning to visit the mud volcanoes of Qobustan yet had enough of the long bus ride. I got off at Elat, walked through the town, to the seaside. There were some interesting, abandoned buildings that I pictured. Then I saw the sea and walked back to the bus, towards Baku. It was an interesting ride, after all you pass all the oil fields on your way south. It shows where the wealth of Baku comes from, or at least for a part. I liked Baku and even though I haven't even seen one percent of Azerbaijan, I am definitely tempted to come back. I know very well that there is some unique culture and fantastic nature to be seen. The country deserves time - and I wish to return for a fresh trip with new energy. The country awaits us to come explore!