Given that Azerbaijani culture and language is Turkic in origin, it’s not surprising that its cuisine also carries a strong Turkish influence. Doner kebabs are so prevalent on Baku’s streets that you’d swear they were Azerbaijani by origin.
One thing is certain though. Azerbaijanis like their meat, with shashlik (barbecue) as the style of choice. One meal took us on the tour of the animal kingdom with seven different types of shashlik Continue Reading »
Lahic was the last of the Caucasus hill villages we visited and it reaffirmed that hill villages often have the most to offer in terms of scenery and real life experiences. They are generally hard to get to and usually involve boarding a Soviet-era school bus that should have been retired 20 years ago.
Winters in these remote villages are difficult – roads get snowed out and access to the rest of the world and its goods is limited. Locals reflect their accumulated years of difficulty with an outwardly rough exterior, but they usually soften quickly upon engagement. Even a “hello” in the local language will bring smiles, invitations for tea (or vodka), and possible induction into the extended family.
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While visiting the village of Kish just outside of Shaki, the Azerbaijani long weekend getaway of choice, we struck up a conversation with a newlywed couple – a young dentist and his wife – as they gave us a ride back into town.
“The situation with doctors and dentists is really bad in Azerbaijan. My salary as a dentist is only $30 per month.”
“How could you afford a car like this on $30 per month?” Audrey asked, as she sank back into the deep plush seat of his Mercedes sedan. Continue Reading »
Sometimes quotes are the best way to describe a place. Here are a few from our friend, Yahya, about Azerbaijan’s capital Baku.
Posing as Estonians
The influence of Azerbaijan’s current oil boom (its second, the first occurred in the early 1900s) can be felt just about everywhere, not least in the price of accommodation which happens to be geared more towards oil executives with large expense accounts than independent tourists. Based on our research, hotels were out of the question. Baku didn’t seem to have a network of homestay families as in Tbilisi and Yerevan, so we opted for a short-term apartment rental.
“Don’t speak English when the woman comes. I told her you were Estonian. We get a better price this way.”
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Wedding parties, mountain lakes, Soviet scientific centers and parks – images from Kazakhstan are up in our photo gallery. Enjoy!
After surviving on more than three months of Soviet and nomad-inspired cuisine from the Caucasus to Central Asia, we’ve begun to have visions of our favorite foods and restaurants. Here’s a taste of what we’ve been craving.
Note: this fantasy interlude does not represent a “best of” and is in no particular order. Deprivation knows no logic or sequence! Continue Reading »
Peaceful Haghartsin Monastery is nestled in the forest about 15 minutes outside of the northern Armenian town of Dilijan. Continue Reading »
At 1900 meters, Lake Sevan’s waters are icy cold…a toe dip and you’ll lose feeling immediately. Continue Reading »
Changes to our home page, our erratic publishing schedule, and varied topics have thrown some of our readers off. It’s time to come clean.
We’re not actually traveling. We’ve been updating this site from a beach in the Maldives. We’ve fabricated all of our stories and grabbed content and photos from around the web and Photoshopped ourselves in where possible. Isn’t technology amazing?
OK, the real story.
For those of you who believe everything you read, that last bit was a joke. All the experiences are ours. And so is the content. Continue Reading »
Garni, a reconstructed Hellenic temple (originally from the 1st century) located at the Avan Gorge. Nearby Geghard is an early Christian rock monastery from the 4th century, augmented by the Zakarians in the 13th century. Catch someone singing in the upper chapel (as we did) – the acoustics are terrific.
How to get there: As public transportation makes it a bit tricky to visit both sites in one day, we took a tour with Sati (21 Mashtots Avenue) for around $8 per person.