Baku had been on my mind for the longest time! It is a quick weekend getaway from Dubai, with on-arrival visa benefit for GCC residents. Still the first trip i took to the get a glimpse of Azerbaijan was to Baku as a long layover for my onward journey.
I flew Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL) from Dubai to Baku – It was clean, spacious and had entertainment with a meal included! All in all i was happy with the service of the flight attendants too.
Landing and On-arrival Visa was a smooth process. It comes with a fee of USD 26 per person. If you do not have change, there is a cash counter to exchange your bigger bills and give you the exact change. Once you plug in your details into a Vending Machine sorts, it will print your Visa.
I had a taxi booked via taxi2airport.com so a driver with my name board was waiting for me at the arrivals. He was generous enough to arrange a bottle of water and stopped at the Heydar Aliyev Center for me to hop out of the taxi and snap a few pics on the way to the Hostel. The drive to the city is about 30mins. It costed me about USD 32 for a two way transfer.
It was a layover so i opted to book myself into the centrally located Sahil Hostel & Hotel. It initially costed me USD 45, but closer to the date i saw a price drop and modified my booking, ended up paying only USD 35. On check-in, as desired i got a double room with private washroom. The hostel was on the main road and had a Quirky Decor. The staff was friendly! After dumping the bag with an overnight change, i headed out to explore the city! I guess it was about 4.30pm then.
Grabbed a map and began the walk!
First stop was most definitely the Maiden Tower, which i kept as my landmark to understand the direction in which i had to walk back to my hostel.
The lane next to it was so quaint with lovely traditional balconies. Offcourse i had to sit down and take my pic :).
Moved on to the Old Town ( İçərişəhər). It was a small street with souvenir shops on either side and street vendors approaching to come in and see what special items they have to offer. The Flame Towers were peek-a-boo’ing in the backdrop too.
Walked in to a store, picked up my Fridge Magnet, some Tasty Honey and a Keychain.
It was a hot day!!!
Easy excuse to grad an Ice-Cream i say!!!
While travelling i like to try local stuff, so i wanted to also try the local ice-cream.. but to my disappointment, it was more pretty to look at than delish to taste, i guess thats why i can’t remember the name or flavor.
Continuing my stroll, i reached a waterway in middle of a garden…
It is known as “The Little Venice of Baku”. I can safely say, it was very little indeed. You can plonk onto a Gondola and enjoy the gimmick, but as i didn’t have a small bill or exact change, the ticket counter didn’t let me take a ride! Wasn’t so tempted to get change from another place and come back to it, so i took a rain check on it.
The Sun starting setting and the breeze got cooler…
Next stop was the Famous Nizami Street. Lights came up and the restaurants were packed with Sheesha and Kebab lovers… I was enjoying the Street Performers which increased in number as it got cooler.
Ate a Shawarma, followed by Tiramisu and Drank the Local Tea to satisfy the hungry tummy.
Recommended by a friend, i wanted to end my layover shenanigans by sipping some Rose Wine at the Sky Grill Terrace, Hilton. The Glass of Wine was perfect and so was the rotating 360 degree view of the city from a height of 24 floors of the hotel. Some Drinks and Some Spins can get you a bit happy and dizzy faster for sure!
At about 12.30am i called it a day… a good one at that!
Snoozed for 4 hours before i got ready to head back to the airport to catch my flight to the next exciting destination.
#baku #azerbaijan #middleeast #europe #travel #explore #dubai #blog