Day 15

15. May 2000, Tbilisi to Baku ferry

The day starts off with foggy and slightly rainy weather. We drive through small Georgian villages towards the Azerbaijan border. The vegetation is again very green, animals are strolling about and roads are again very bad.
But as we cross into the Azerbaijan, roads suddenly get a lot better. They can still be described as in a bad state but at least they are repaired, so the contrast makes us think of them as very good. On the other hand, less imported limousines can be seen on the roads (is there a relationship?)
Just like Georgia, the west of Azerbaijan is very green and has very nice nature, many exotic looking birds can be seen and heard. Pet-wise there are no more pigs but more sheep, goats and horses on the road.People are proud of their horse-back heritage in Azerbaijan just like in the other Central Asian states.
Language and people in Azerbaijan are close to Turkey, so even within a day we feel to start at home in Azerbaijan.We talk to many people and they are very friendly and open and have a totally different mentality from the Georgians, who seem to be closer to the Russians. At first we thought we might be biassed because we can communicate in Turkish but an American couple confirms our view. We get asked many questions by the Azeris but the question that is most on their mind is: Who pays for your petrol on the road?
Towards Baku, the landscape gets a lot drier. Baku itself is a huge city, unfortunately we do not get to see much of it as we have to board the ferry. We had heard many warnings about this ferry: Waits of several days due to low tide, bad facilities, etc. But on the actual crossing most went reasonably fine and we arrived only with few hours delay.
Unfortunately we only spend one day in Azerbaijan but our impressions of it have been very nice so we plan to come back, especially to see Baku.

TC 57: Tbilisi OUT
TC 58: Cockchai
08 367.05 km
TC 59: Motodrom IN
35 207.15 km
TC 60: Motodrom OUT
13 11.55 km

Overall 37 minutes penalty

The official results can be looked up on this website

A small border crossing into Georgia, Azeri officials let us enter with little hassle.

Sheep and another common sight: A horse carriage

wide, mostly dry river beds, another common sight

before Baku

The ability to speak Turkish attracts attention.

Escorted by the police to the port

The natural harbour of Baku


Not another picture of cows... These are actually buffaloes and we saw so many animals on the road today that we had to show these photos.
Also notice the beautiful alleyways which remind of us Central Europe, a stark contrast to the east of Azerbaijan.

Kids cheer the rally participants in Cockchai

east Azerbaijan: hills and dry grass

Industry still has to live with the Communist legacy but certain areas (such as petrol stations) are Western standard.

Baku: Paris on the Caspian Sea, city of culture and history, capital of an emerging country - and what do we get to see of it: The Baku Motodrom, normally used for motorbike races.
But anyone who read Jules Verne knows that Phileas Fogg's voyage suffered the same kind of hastiness.

Boarding the ferry