After waiting a week for my Azerbaijan visa, it was just an overnight train from Tbilisi to Baku. I try not to talk bad about a country but this weekend was a disaster.
Train from Tbilisi to Baku
From Tbilisi main train station it’s a 14 hour train to Baku and for about £20 in a new sleeper train isn’t bad at all.
It turned out that the train wasn’t busy so I had the compartment to myself. Most of the journey was quiet until the Azerbaijani border when a load of men dressed in camo got on the train. It was just customs checks but they must have thought I was suspicious. Outside my compartment was 4 men and a guard dog talking to me in a language I couldn’t understand. I emptied my bags out and they processed my passport then left.
We pulled into Baku only half an hour late and it took another an hour to locate an ATM and get into a taxi. This was the worst taxi driver ever. He didn’t know where he was going, he had no phone to call the place and he had no change and ended up just driving off.
Worst Airbnb apartment ever
It’s good to break up staying in hostels and I had found a cheap apartment on Airbnb. It didn’t look amazing, but it’s fine just for me.
So a man met me on the street to show me to the apartment and we walked down some back alley towards the apartment. At this point, I didn’t know if I was about to get robbed or shown to the apartment.
We walked up some old rusted metal stairs. Half of the steps would move when you step on them as if it’s about to fall through. We went up three flights of these steps and he leads me to a shed door and it’s the apartment. It was a cheap apartment but this was squalid.
I’ve stayed in some basic accommodation but this one was beyond basic. It had no shower and just a hose on the wall. The bed sheets were torn and dirty. No hot water, no heating.
Two hours passed trying to think of what to do and I ended up cancelling the room and leaving. Well leaving was difficult because the door was jammed shut and I couldn’t leave. It took another two hours before the apartment owner came out. He handed me a screw driver through the window and I had to unscrew the shed door.
I managed to find a hotel for £20 a night and headed out to see Baku city. So far Azerbaijan hasn’t been good to me.
Azerbaijan is an oil rich country, Baku being the capital city. Coming from Tbilisi and Yerevan; two awesome cities. I had my hopes high for Baku. In reality, Baku was a massive disappointment.
Baku is a fake city; there is nothing to like about the place. As usual it’s a case of people trying to create history, trying to give somewhere character. European style buildings, London black cab taxis driving around the city. The old city looks no more than 10 years old, sky scrapers on one street and then dilapidated houses in the next.
It’s a city without an identity. They need to stop spending money on their ego and sort out their city first.
Thoughts on Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan was a disappointment and it sucks because I had high hopes to stay here and see the country. It has been a massive waste of money with the visa fees, accommodation issues and booking an onward flight.
I’ve been in Azerbaijan less than 24 hours and I’m ready to leave. Flying out of Baku east is a bit difficult but I have found a good flight to Almaty. Kazakhstan does not have any visa issues for UK passport holders so it’s ideal.