A Travellerspoint blog

July 2013

Qabala

What to do a free weekend in Azerbaijan? When I had that opportunity last week I decided to go to the buss hall to find the first and best ride out of the city. With a bag of toiletries, fruit and overnight clothes we boarded a minibus headed for Qəbələ, a small city north-west in Azerbaijan. I'm getting used to these long-distance trips in crowded non-airconditioned busses, so the 4-hour trip didn't feel too bad, though it always feels good to stretch after sitting cramped in a small seat for those times.

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As we were late out that morning we arrived around 15:45 in Gabala (or Qabala), without a place to stay or much knowledge of the city. After a delicious kebab (think BBQ grill-spear, not shish-kebab) lunch in a garden restaurant we headed to find a place to stay for the night. We were lucky to get in touch with a cheap hotel, but when we arrived they told us to find another place, as we didn't have a marriage license (required to get a hotel room in some places). So we ended up in a more expensive room in a international hotel.

After settling in we went for a walk in the city. Qabala is a small town, but because of its historical significant and nature its a popular tourist destination, for international as well as Azerbaijani tourists. The city is trying to become a bigger tourist destination and has some nice parks in the center where we were walking around. And the surroundings adds to the relaxing environment; The city is surrounded by green forest clad rolling mountains, the cleaner and not moister-heavy air was a refreshing break from the humid & hot Baku.

Outside the city there lies the famous waterfall "Seven Beauties" at the foot of the mountain. I should have learned by now that the time assessment is not so accurate, so when we were told that the spot was about an hours walk away, we should have guessed it would be longer. We ended up walking in the rural countryside terrain for about 4 hours to get to the village where the waterfall lay.

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Along with hundreds of other tourist we bathed our feet in the cold water, refreshed ourselves on spring water and ate lunch in the valley. After reaching our destination we started walking down toward the main road where we hoped to catch a bus to Baku, luckily we met a nice guy that gave us a ride to the road and actually chased the bus down the road and stopped it for us so we could get on! I truly do appreciate these wonderful acts of kindness from friendly Azerbaijani. Again we were on a 4hour bus ride to Baku and before long the 30-something hour adventure was coming to an end.

5th city I'm visiting in Azerbaijan,
Can't wait for the next one♡

Camilla

Posted by CamillaS 11:32 Archived in Azerbaijan Comments (0)

Forty-Nine Days

Today is my 49th "Anniversary" since I first stepped of the plane in Baku. Time appears differently when you are first moving to a new place, and when I think back it feels like just yesterday and like I've lived here a lifetime.

Yesterday I had a short Skype chat with some other "international" MCPs (Presidents of AIESEC), meaning someone who are MCP in a country that is not their own, and we were discussing the challenges and wonders of being in this unique position. One of the questions that came up was

"Do you already feel like a local?"

One girls answer made me reflect on my own experience in Azerbaijan. She said she still feels like an international, its impossible to not notice how in small and big you are not natively belonging to the culture. But on the other hand feeling at home and comfortable in the city, knowing how to move around and get to where you want to go. And that is how I'm feeling in Baku as well. I'm obviously a foreigner to the culture and society, but I have somehow found my place, there is still loads to discover, but I'm happy I already now know some cafes, restaurants and have gotten some routines.

In my 7 weeks here I have managed to travel to 4 different cities, gone to the beach a few times, stolen apples from a countryside garden, gone sight-seeing in the city, start my term as MCP, gone hiking to a waterfall in Gabala, eaten at 20something restaurants, found what shop sells asian spicy ingredients, met a Chinese speaking Azeri guy, been to company meetings, gotten rejected at a hotel for not having a marriage certificate, danced at a construction site and learned some Azeri. Those are just a few of the moments I have experienced over the last weeks in Azerbaijan.

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Posted by CamillaS 02:16 Archived in Azerbaijan Comments (0)

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