Saturday, December 01, 2007

Baku, Azerbaijan

The capital of Azerbaijan on the Caspian sea smells of oil. Literally. The promenade is full of couples being romantic and trying to ignore the passing tankers and the scent of Brent Crude.

I now have a personal reason to loathe oil companies. Besides propping up dictatorships, corrupting political processes, ensuring the West's foreign policies are borderline abject, heating the planet when not fucking up the environment on a local basis, Big Oil has now sent its minions in droves to this place to make lodgings and beer very pricey for innocent backpackers. Let's all go renewable. Fuck 'em.

Baku has a reasonable array of mosques, city walls, etc to make it worth a short and expensive stay. Once again I am drawn to the local big tower. My distubing fondness for phallic symbols aside, it had a fun story (amongst many) to explain its name of Maiden Tower.

It's claimed some local lord got into his head to marry his own daughter. The girl was understanbly a bit queasy at the prospect and did the fairy tale thing of setting a difficult challenge for her icky suitor. She requested that he built the biggest tower ever for her before whe would consent to some highly unnatural rumpy pumpy. The sicko was not deterred and had the thing built. Upon completion, our distressed damsel went to the top of it and flung herself to her death. A beautiful tale for the fireside.

Amusing anecdotes about parental abuse aside, a quick glance at the thing shows the story to be bollock. The arrow slits and single entry indicate something built for defence and not to please a lady. If it had been done to please a chick it would have been far more ornate and floofy, incest or no incest.

Baku's wealth has some advantages as it is wonderfully familiar in layout, looks and services. There is a good availibility of comfort chow from around the globe, street names are visible and I don't need an envelope to carry a day's worth of cash. Even the dosh is familiar to a fault. The new manat (coins and notes) looks remarkably like the euro.

All these perks have somehow given me a wee boost and for some reason this boost gave me an idea. As I am now in an enlightened region where the entry requirements for Westerners are to show up with a passport, a smile and some dollars, I have decided to add Armenia to my little blitz through the Caucasus.

Next stop, Saki/Sheki

Take care,



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