Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Community > Trip Reports
Reload this Page >

Four days in Baku, an Azerbaijan adventure

Four days in Baku, an Azerbaijan adventure

Old Mar 21, 2024, 1:07 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Location: Newcastle, UK
Programs: BAEC Gold, IHG Platinum, FlyingBlue Gold, Hilton Gold, Mucci des repas d'enfant
Posts: 2,822
Four days in Baku, an Azerbaijan adventure

And now for something completely different! I'm off to Baku this week, thanks to snagging a cheap flight with Azerbaijan Airlineóa result of a mistake fare way back last September. I jumped on the opportunity to go somewhere I otherwise would never have considered at a bargain basement price. You can see the details of the fare HERE if interested.

The rest of the travel and hotel costs for this jaunt have almost entirely been covered using points and avios, making this a very wallet-friendly adventure.

Hereís what the itinerary looks like:

- Departing today, Iím flying BA from Newcastle to Heathrow, then to Paris, where I'll spend the night at the Holiday Inn Express.
- On Friday, it's off to Baku, staying at the Intercontinental for two nights.
- On Sunday, I'll switch to the Radisson Hotel for another two nights.
- Come Tuesday, Iíll start my journey back, retracing my steps to Newcastle.

Since itís not every day you find yourself in Baku, and as Iím highly unlikely to return, Iíve lined up several tours to make the most of my visit. I've also kept a little free time to explore on a whim.

By sheer coincidence, my visit aligns with Novruz, the Persian New Year celebrations, which means Iíll be in the middle of a bank holiday which started yesterday and lasts until Sunday. Iím not sure how this will affect the opening times of places I want to visit, but itís bound to add an interesting twist to the trip!

And now it is time to tread the well trodden path once more, starting with unpacking and repacking the suitcase! I got back from a four-day business trip to Birmingham late last night and went straight to bed as soon as I got home, giving me a leisurely couple of hours this morning to unpack and then prepare for this trip
JapesUK is online now  
Old Mar 21, 2024, 4:26 am
  #2  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Location: Newcastle, UK
Programs: BAEC Gold, IHG Platinum, FlyingBlue Gold, Hilton Gold, Mucci des repas d'enfant
Posts: 2,822
Uber arrived within two minutes of booking which was a real surprise for me and a happy result for the driver as he had just dropped off a passenger from Newcastle station. The journey was spent with the driver telling me the ins and outs of Bangladeshi family life which, to be honest, was fairly interesting.

The airport is very quiet, the only signs of life are at the BA checkin desk which I guess had just opened a few minutes early



The boarding pass check and security areas were basically empty, no queues to be seen.




And, as usual, my rucksack was pulled for secondary security. I had a chance to see the scanner output and it was the iPad that it was not happy with. Chap on secondary suggested it might be the case causing the system unhappiness. Even with secondary on the laptop bag I was into the lounge ten minutes after hitting the kerb.

Coming down the escalators to the departure gates and lounge I noticed there was even more construction and boarding up than last time, it now covers the right hand wall too.



A lovely greeting on arrival at reception and as I walked into the main area one of the lovely ladies asked if I wanted fizz…. They know me too well by now!




The lounge is currently laid out for breakfast and I shall be indulging in a little fry up shortly



And now I have 90 minutes to catch up on the world before it’ll be time to consider wandering off to the gate.
JapesUK is online now  
Old Mar 21, 2024, 6:07 am
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Location: Newcastle, UK
Programs: BAEC Gold, IHG Platinum, FlyingBlue Gold, Hilton Gold, Mucci des repas d'enfant
Posts: 2,822
Boarding was well underway when I arrived at the gate with 30 minutes to go. Onto the plane and into 1A for todays flight.




The requisite legroom shot and proof I rushed Ironing the trousers last week! G-EUUK is our carriage today, last on this one back from Milan to Heathrow in January.




Everyone is on board and the doors are closed with ten minutes to go before our scheduled departure time so high hopes for an on time arrival as I want to go landside at T5 and come back in for reasons soon to be divulged.

There are 9 rows in the CE cabin today, it never fails to amaze me how many people fly business on this route.

Next stop: London Heathrow T5
JapesUK is online now  
Old Mar 21, 2024, 7:47 am
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Location: Newcastle, UK
Programs: BAEC Gold, IHG Platinum, FlyingBlue Gold, Hilton Gold, Mucci des repas d'enfant
Posts: 2,822
We pushed back on time and as usual at Newcastle it was a very short taxi to the runway. We passed the Fire Brigade practice hull and it looks like they were lining up for practice or a test and we were just a little early in passing. I did also manage to get one scenery picture just after takeoff before we were up above the clouds.





The crew on this flight were very efficient, with 36 in the business cabin they had everyone server and drinks topped up with 25 minutes left to go, and multiple top ups in the remainder of the flight.

I had ordered the Low Sodium meal which was this very tasty poached chicken… very tasty after I added salt




Gentleman in 1A has been a good companion for this leg. He tells me he is a FT lurker not a regular poster and will ping me a message once he works out his ID. He is at the start of a tier point run to Tucson so I wish him all the best with that. He also very generously offered to guest me into the Concorde room but I declined as I wanted to try out the new first wing security. It was very good of him to offer.

Heavy cloud all the way to Heathrow so only one picture of this beloved stadium as we neared landing



We landed a little after ten past one and were quickly at the gate and off the plane.
JapesUK is online now  
Old Mar 21, 2024, 7:56 am
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Location: Newcastle, UK
Programs: BAEC Gold, IHG Platinum, FlyingBlue Gold, Hilton Gold, Mucci des repas d'enfant
Posts: 2,822
After landing I headed through arrivals to landside and jumped into the elevator up to departures and the first wing.



Security was an absolute breeze. The new smiths detection machines were able to cope with my ipad and no secondary screening for me. Chatting to one of the guys he thinks that the rejection rate is around 20% which is very impressive on day 1 compared to the experience at Newcastle. He did say that the machines had a fetish for bananas and toblerone, make of that what you may!

Advertising in the tech tunnel has switched over to range rover and is very bronze



Into the first lounge and out into the glasshouse which is very very warm today



And with that I am back up to date and have thirty minutes to enjoy this fine beverage and see what the buffet has to offer

JapesUK is online now  
Old Mar 21, 2024, 8:51 am
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Location: Newcastle, UK
Programs: BAEC Gold, IHG Platinum, FlyingBlue Gold, Hilton Gold, Mucci des repas d'enfant
Posts: 2,822
By the time I arrived at the gate I was sixty-forth in the group one and pre-boarding queue! And that was thirty minutes to departure



Amazingly when I finally got on board there was nobody in the first three rows and all the bins were empty!

Taking up my usual roost on the 1B seat tray until boarding completed and watching the passengers stream onboard.



G-EUUC for this second leg of the day and it looks like this is another new one for me.



we are now ten minutes to scheduled take off but the boarding has been pretty backed up by a couple of people that really should have pre-boarded but they’re all settled now. I’d guess we’ll be 10-15 minutes late off the ground which we should pick up in the air as there is a ton of flex in this schedule. I honestly don’t care, there’s only the hotel and an early night tonight so personally I’m in no rush. And no great surprise, flighty has just updated with a ten minute delay.

Next stop, Charles de Gaulle

Last edited by JapesUK; Mar 21, 2024 at 9:08 am
JapesUK is online now  
Old Mar 21, 2024, 11:18 am
  #7  
Fairmont Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: UK
Programs: BAEC electrum
Posts: 2,007
Jealous. Baku has been on my list for a while. Should be some good ancient architecture to see!
JapesUK likes this.
DeathSlam is offline  
Old Mar 21, 2024, 12:04 pm
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Location: Newcastle, UK
Programs: BAEC Gold, IHG Platinum, FlyingBlue Gold, Hilton Gold, Mucci des repas d'enfant
Posts: 2,822
In the end we were a good fourty minutes late off the ground but made up the vast majority of that in the air, An excellent flight and an excellent crew. The moment we were off the ground the IFL was up and hustling and the first meals were delivered 60 seconds after seatbelt light was off.

I had ordered another child special menu which was great fun, jam sandwiches and a face on an open cream cheese sandwich.



The young crew member who had been on the flight deck for takeoff mis-served the champers in a bucket, such a shame




A thoroughly enjoyable if somewhat short flight. On the taxi to the gate we passed this regal bird but from 1C its a pretty poor photo, especially as I had to hustle to take it, it caught me by surprise




I honestly believe that Charles de Gaulle has some of the worst signage of any major airport in the world. Once out of the exit from baggage claim you are presented with paths in all directions and not one hint of a sign to a hotel. A little bit of google maps told me it was a 5 hour walk to the hotel It also told me it was close to T1 so I headed that way. Eventually hotel directions appeared and disappeared but I got there in the end, close to an hour after I reached the exit.










Last edited by JapesUK; Mar 21, 2024 at 12:11 pm
JapesUK is online now  
Old Mar 21, 2024, 12:10 pm
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Location: Newcastle, UK
Programs: BAEC Gold, IHG Platinum, FlyingBlue Gold, Hilton Gold, Mucci des repas d'enfant
Posts: 2,822
And arrived at my resting point for the evening, the Holiday Inn Express at the tail end of rush hour!



The Air France flight to Bogota had been cancelled and they had been deluged by AF passengers. There was a huge stack of AF vouchers on the desk.

The hotel is pretty much what you would expect of a HI express








Its been very warm in Paris and both the hotel and the room is pretty hot, but outside is lovely and that is where I have been sat penning these updates. A pint of the local brew in front of me (despite the glassware) it is time to enjoy the cooling air and the cooler beer after which it will be dinner and an early night


JapesUK is online now  
Old Mar 21, 2024, 12:53 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: NCL
Programs: BAEC and Hilton mostly
Posts: 665
The start of another JapesUK adventure

I have to say the trek to the airport hotel(s?) at CDG is not selling it to me as a layover location!
JapesUK likes this.
Tocsin is offline  
Old Mar 21, 2024, 1:03 pm
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Location: Newcastle, UK
Programs: BAEC Gold, IHG Platinum, FlyingBlue Gold, Hilton Gold, Mucci des repas d'enfant
Posts: 2,822
Wandering back into the hotel and dinner is a starter and desert buffet with an A La Carte main and it looked, well, uninspired would be polite.

I had already espied the moxy across the way and so decided to wander over and see what they had to offer.



Its actually quite under-stated by the standard of other moxy properties I have visited but you still would not mistake it for anything else





A lot of the food is in the form of these pre-made jars



and so, asking the server his recommendation for a carnivore he suggested the wings and burger combo and that it what I went for.




Washed down with a pint of Carlsberg Elephant which I’ve never seen before and is pretty good.

JapesUK is online now  
Old Mar 21, 2024, 1:31 pm
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Location: Newcastle, UK
Programs: BAEC Gold, IHG Platinum, FlyingBlue Gold, Hilton Gold, Mucci des repas d'enfant
Posts: 2,822


Not the clearest photo as the light levels in here are very low. It was absolutely delicious. The wings were crispy, properly cooked, and accompanied by a tangy BBQ sauce. The burger was on point with a generous amount of cheese and onion jam and enhanced with the leftover BBQ sauce. The salad went into the empty chicken wing bowl

Total cost was 31 euros including the beer, cheaper than the Ibis I was staying at earlier this week at Birmingham airport.

Now very full of food it’s time to finish the beer and head to bed. Departure tomorrow is 11am from Terminal 1 and so I want to leave the hotel at 8am, therefore a 6am alarm call. Its 20:30 at the moment, so no immediate rush.
JapesUK is online now  
Old Mar 21, 2024, 1:35 pm
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Location: Newcastle, UK
Programs: BAEC Gold, IHG Platinum, FlyingBlue Gold, Hilton Gold, Mucci des repas d'enfant
Posts: 2,822
Originally Posted by Tocsin
The start of another JapesUK adventure

I have to say the trek to the airport hotel(s?) at CDG is not selling it to me as a layover location!
Definitely hotels, plural, there’s a wide array but none of them seem particularly accessible. This stopover was simply by nature of the CDG-GYD flight timing, personally would not plan an overnight stop here unless absolutely unavoidable.
Tocsin likes this.
JapesUK is online now  
Old Mar 21, 2024, 3:41 pm
  #14  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 11,593
I didn't know Carlsberg Elephant as well, but it's either 7.2 or 10.5% on some websites, rocket fuel!

I assume you'll be in the Extime lounge at CDG, so looking forward to hearing your thoughts on that.
JapesUK likes this.
hugolover is offline  
Old Mar 21, 2024, 3:56 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Stockholm
Programs: Various
Posts: 3,376
Originally Posted by JapesUK
Definitely hotels, plural, thereís a wide array but none of them seem particularly accessible. This stopover was simply by nature of the CDG-GYD flight timing, personally would not plan an overnight stop here unless absolutely unavoidable.
I have a stay in Paris during the Olympics and have a booking at that very Holiday Inn Express. I'm convinced I will be paying more than you. However, it will hopefully be easier for me to find it since I've now seen a description how to find it.
JapesUK likes this.
Fredrik74 is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service -

This site is owned, operated, and maintained by MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Designated trademarks are the property of their respective owners.