Baku the Paris of the Caucasus

Read / lees in : Nederlands

Heydar Aliyev Centre / Baku
Baku the Paris of the Caucasus, j’aime!

From the moment we left Dushanbe, because we wanted to see more of Tajikistan, we really haven’t had any rest. All the time we had to keep going because the visas we were given all had short validity and they all had fixed travel dates. Only in Iran we could take it easy, visa technically speaking, because you can extend your visa there a couple of times quite easy. But we really didn’t want to, so there too we did our best to photograph see as much as we could in as little time as possible. Thus we had planned to take a couple of days off as soon as we’d enter Europe. When we entered Baku the Paris of the Caucasus and Azerbaijan’s capital, that moment finally arrived.

Baku / Azerbaijan
They look like 19th century buildings, but they’re all brand new.

Like is customary in this region Azerbaijan too is ruled by a presidictator, who has been replaced followed by his equally handsome son, who has a nearly unlimited amount of petrodollars at his disposal. Apparently the president went on a schooltrip to Paris and London and he liked it there so much that he spent all his the taxpayers money to make Baku the Paris of the Caucasus, with London style taxis. But to be fair, he succeeded splendidly, it’s beautiful. That’s one of the reasons we even stayed a bit longer than we planned, but also because after five weeks in Iran we needed french bread beer and bacon desperately. What also helped a lot is the fact that Baku is not very expensive. Hotel prices for example are about half of those in Iran, and for that price you’ll get twice the stars.

Baku / Azerbaijan
Oil derricks right where you need them, in the parking lot.

The fact that behind all those new buildings you’ll find good old slums doesn’t spoil the fun. Just as it doesn’t matter that only a few kilometers from the city centre the people have oil rigs and derricks in their backyard. And while we enjoy the view of windmills when we’re kicking it on the beach, the people here have an unobstructed view of numerous off-shore drilling platforms in the Caspian Sea. It seems that the whole peninsula on which Baku is situated floats on a sea of oil. On top of that they have a lot of gas, so much gas that, at least, since the days Marco Polo passed here it has been seeping out of the rocks. You could say it looks here like the Turkmenistan of the Caucasus.

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