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Four days in Baku, an Azerbaijan adventure

Four days in Baku, an Azerbaijan adventure

Old Mar 25, 2024, 7:19 am
  #91  
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Narrowly avoiding smashing into a bus on the way out of the car park, we were on the way to our final stop of the day, the fire temple. I’d thought this tour was a half day but apparently there are two very similar tours, one is a half day and the other a full day, it seems this is the full day version.

The tour around the fire temple was pretty rushed, I think at this point the guide wanted to see the back of us, or one passenger in particular. The young lads incessant chattering had quickly gone from amusing to irritating and had reached annoying hours ago.





As the temple was the last stop of the day I thanked our guide and cut away on my own. 5 in a taxi was value for money to escape the incessant noisemaker and the thirty minute trip back to the hotel was conducted in blissful silence.
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Old Mar 25, 2024, 7:34 am
  #92  
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And there we are, eight and a half hours of minibus fun compressed into a handful of updates. Returning to the hotel the first port of call was back to the room to pick up some painkillers as my head is absolutely pounding. Given that it’s already 5pm the only sensible course of action is to have a beer or two whist I contemplate food. I have to be up at 3am so I may try that special menu I pictured earlier, or another one of those excellent burritos, before trying for an early night.

Tomorrow is a seriously long travel day with over 9 hours of transit along the way. I leave the hotel before 4am (midnight UK) and arrive home 21:30 assuming no delay, so 21 1/2 hours all told end to end. For now, it is beer o’clock, time to check in for tomorrows flights, and catch up on the world.
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Old Mar 25, 2024, 8:25 am
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Originally Posted by JapesUK
And there we are, eight and a half hours of minibus fun compressed into a handful of updates. Returning to the hotel the first port of call was back to the room to pick up some painkillers as my head is absolutely pounding. Given that its already 5pm the only sensible course of action is to have a beer or two whist I contemplate food. I have to be up at 3am so I may try that special menu I pictured earlier, or another one of those excellent burritos, before trying for an early night.

Tomorrow is a seriously long travel day with over 9 hours of transit along the way. I leave the hotel before 4am (midnight UK) and arrive home 21:30 assuming no delay, so 21 1/2 hours all told end to end. For now, it is beer oclock, time to check in for tomorrows flights, and catch up on the world.
Cheers to beer oclock! Looks like you have had a bit of an adventure there
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Old Mar 25, 2024, 10:32 am
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What an adventure you've had! Those muddy roads didn't look too bad 😁 they are definitely better that the road to San Blas Island in Panama.
Pity you missed the food tour. Maybe that can be an excuse for returning back sometimes in the future.
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Old Mar 25, 2024, 10:41 am
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Originally Posted by JapesUK
And there we are, eight and a half hours of minibus fun compressed into a handful of updates. Returning to the hotel the first port of call was back to the room to pick up some painkillers as my head is absolutely pounding. Given that its already 5pm the only sensible course of action is to have a beer or two whist I contemplate food. I have to be up at 3am so I may try that special menu I pictured earlier, or another one of those excellent burritos, before trying for an early night.

Tomorrow is a seriously long travel day with over 9 hours of transit along the way. I leave the hotel before 4am (midnight UK) and arrive home 21:30 assuming no delay, so 21 1/2 hours all told end to end. For now, it is beer oclock, time to check in for tomorrows flights, and catch up on the world.
Let's see, what I had is leaving the hotel at 7 am and unlocked my front door at 1 pm the following day, 21 1/2 is easy mode
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Old Mar 25, 2024, 2:07 pm
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What you don't a sense of from the pictures is how fast the Ladas drive and how quickly they change direction when the road gets rough. It's like being on a fairground ride ramped up to 11.

This gives some sort of sense of it, the music was recorded as we went from the radio in the car.

Video

I did substantially the same tour - it's a sort of "must do" in Baku, though I did another that was a tour of the mountains, ending up at the top of a mountain eating in a farmhouse, looking at the Russian border to the north and hearing stories about Stalin who apparently came from the region. It's a genuinely fascinating place. I was on the same error fare.
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Old Mar 25, 2024, 5:13 pm
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I really should have done a video, the occasional exclamation from the ladies in the back seats would have added flavour . As bisonrav says, the speed, the throwing the car around to avoid all the pitfalls, and the occasional 10-20 degree lean at speed all made for an experience!
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Old Mar 25, 2024, 7:08 pm
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Last night finished with a second beer and a burrito and then to bed by 8pm. From then until the alarm rudely interrupted me at 3am I probably snatched four hours broken sleep, maybe a little less. It is going to be a long, long day.

The taxi driver arrived at 3:15 for the 3:45 pick up, so a good start to the day. The second taxi driver arrived at 03:40 looks like their company double booked them. They were both outside when I came down exactly on time at 03:45 and in good humour, they’d worked out the double booking for themselves.

After Istanbul it’s very confusing to be getting into a minivan to the airport and there not be any bling As we headed to the airport we travelled past a number of illuminated buildings. Any attempt to get pictures of the light shows on the skyscrapers failed due to the moving, bouncing van and the low light, at least it kept me amused for five minutes trying.






And so to the airport. On entry to the airport you have to put your baggage through the standard screening and pass through a metal detector. There is a little table to one side to put your phone on before you pass through.






The airport was pretty empty at this time of the morning, in fact I was the only customer at both passport control and security and so was through pretty instantly, apart from a couple of minutes chatting to the guy before security who took an interest in the flyertalk tags!
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Old Mar 25, 2024, 7:15 pm
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The airport is airy and feels very spacious with almost nobody here. There are some very cool looking pod arras housing a library, bar, snack bar, and fine dining






Checking out the duty free prices and they’re not bad, I’ve seen a lot worse eecently




The business class lounge is on the top floor and is well signposted. Once you reach the top of the escalator you are greeted with two lounges, and the Azerbaijan business
lounge is to the right



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Old Mar 25, 2024, 7:23 pm
  #100  
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And so to the lounge. The lounge dragon was very personable and we chatted for a couple of minutes about her recent trip to the UK.

The lounge falls into the OK range. It is nicely appointed, brightly lit, has a manned bar, and slight views over departures. The food and beverage are nothing spectacular but adequate and at least there is Turkish baklava, something the Istanbul lounge failed to deliver!

Unlike a certain YouTuber who seemed to have some drama filming in one of the
lounges, I had no issues whatsoever with taking photographs.















Internet speed is more than adequate



And possibly the most unusual “feature” in any lounge to date, there are birds in the roof so you are treated to constant background birdsong!
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Old Mar 26, 2024, 3:13 am
  #101  
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After a pleasant hour in the lounge where there was never more than ten passengers at any one time, I wandered off to the gate at t-40





Boarding was in full flow when I arrived and there was a significant queue. It was not until I got almost to the front of it that I spotted the priority boarding was at gate 11! Not that it made a huge difference as I noticed that there were far far fewer carry on rollers than I would expect to see on a BA flight. I’d guess 1 in 10 people had a carry on suitcase.




Onboard and the same pillow/blanket/slippers/ amenity kit as with the outbound. Today’s plane is an A320 with five rows of business class seating. Again it is an aging hard product, no USB or public wifi, and the padding of the seats was crushed long ago.





Massive amounts of legroom again and, interestingly, despite being an early morning flight of 6 hours, nobody reclined their seats, even though pretty much the entire cabin was asleep.




Pre-departure drinks offered to everyone except seat 2F and the reason soon became clear as she was shortly sent off to her proper seat at the back of the plane. She took all the business class accoutrements with her so a great way to get a comfy pillow etc and an amenity kit




Everyone was on board and all buttoned up with ten minutes to go and now waiting to be on our way. The safety briefing is on these little screens that pop down at the front of the cabin. It goes on for a VERY long time interspersed with tourist clips of Azerbaijan. And it plays twice, the second time in English.







Shortly thereafter the pre-departure drinks were cleared and menus were distributed and almost immediately thereafter we were on our way. The flight path took us on a wide loop around Baku and I regret my choice of 2D, I should have snagged the window when the self-upgrader was sent packing.








Once up in the air the seatbelts stayed on for nearly 15 minutes. Once deluminated (yes, I know ) the crew were out and about taking orders. It looks like the same setup as last time with an older lady preparing everything and the younger one running the cabin. By this time the seat headrest had become very irritating as it would not stay in the raised position and kept sliding down to my shoulder blades. Finally I’ve found a use for the in flight slippers, jamming them behind the headrest fixed it nicely.

Fully an hour into the flight and hot towels are handed out and tablecloths setup. At this point there is no sign of the drinks that were ordered forty five minutes previously.




When the coffee finally arrived it was accompanied by the same bowl of sweets and sugars as the outbound and a little tray of nuts which felt a bit odd to be serving with a coffee at 8:30 in the morning.




Breakfast followed shortly thereafter and again the same comment as on the flight to Baku, you are not going hungry on Azerbaijan Airlines! Breakfast done and debris cleared it was time to settle in for the second half of the flight with a movie or two and there may have been some cheeky cognacs towards the end. As 90% of my flights are BA short haul, cognac is a treat, BA removed the cognac from short haul a little while ago in favour of yet another gin. As an aside, I had a handful of Manat left to spend at duty free and therefore cognac on the next two BA flights today will not be an issue








After the very slow start service has been as good as the first AZ flight. Although the curtain has been closed since breakfast, one or another of the crew has appeared at regular intervals to see if anyone was in need of further food or drinks and I turned down at least three offers of further snacks and a second breakfast.

Landing pretty much exactly on time it was thick cloud almost all the way to the ground so no pictures of the wonders of Paris today. On arrival at Paris I have decided to clear security and go land-side.

Edit: As if I had a choice, all roads led land side
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Last edited by JapesUK; Mar 26, 2024 at 3:22 am
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Old Mar 26, 2024, 4:27 am
  #102  
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After the standard CDG route march required to get anywhere I finally arrived at the B/D gates






The lounge is not going to set the world on fire, and I suspect four and a half hours here are going to drag on rather painfully












Strangely there is no wine to be seen!

Not to worry, at least I get to start my visit in the traditional way

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Old Mar 26, 2024, 5:18 am
  #103  
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The lounge has switched to the lunch menu




And the wine has appeared, for what its worth



Impressive how they have managed to bring out five hot options and they range from luke warm to stone cold! Both meat dishes were also very bland, the tastiest thing out of all of it was the carrot!
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Old Mar 26, 2024, 8:36 am
  #104  
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As I have passed the 14 hours awake point tiredness was starting to set in and so out of an excess of caution I decided to head to the gate early rather than risk falling asleep in the lounge. Rather surprisingly at t-45 there is absolutely nobody crowding the gate



Today is the first day of BA rolling out group 0 across all flights so I am very interested to see if it is implemented here.
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Old Mar 26, 2024, 8:42 am
  #105  
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Epic fail, groups 0,1,2,3 called for boarding
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