Saturday, 11 July 2015

Action stations Azerbaijan

Before getting there I have one final word about Georgia. . I stayed for the last night in a little "hotel" in Lagodekhi. . The bio yard is a collection of small wooden "huts" in a tranquil shaded spot right at entrance to the national park in the caucuses mountains. . . Amazingly friendly English speaking hosts and it's a cheap as chips. .

If you're travelling from Georgia to Azerbaijan it really is perfect. Only 3km away from the border.

The border itself was mildly amusing with a sign in Georgia that says "Azerbaijan border ahead. . Good luck" . A smile from the Georgian policeman and I crossed to the dark side. . .

With numerous police, army and customs officials buzzing around, my passport and international driving licence, my registration document and visa where all scrutinised and taken into the office while I was asked to unpack everything. .

Some time later. . .

When I had undone one panniers after much messing around, a quick shuffle through my medical kit and the customs guy got bored. . 

The police man asked if I had and religious books, had I been to Armenia and did I have a knife.

Resisting the huge temptation to be my usual humorous self I simple replied in the negative to all. .

Another round of mildly bored investigations into my collapsible spade and photos of me and the bikes Registration plate . . The little matter of $30 in the nice policeman's pocket for the documents I needed and a limited date for the bike to stay in the country and I was set free to engulf my senses in the wonders of northern Azerbaijan.

And therein lays the conundrum. .

Despite all the horror stories, bad news and  warnings, it was actually a very nice place to be. . The road from the border isn't the nicest bit of tarmac I've ever ridden on but the scenery went from lush green wooded hills to flat open baking farm land with huge water melons for sale by the van load. . How many melons can you sell in a day? Ask an Azerbaijani farmer!

With over 400km to Baku it wasn't all pleasant travel, but as the road winds it's way along the foot of the hills heading East , it passes through some wonderful places with wooded areas awash with shaded eateries advertising their wood grilled meat by letting the smokey aroma waft into the road to entice the weary traveller. .
Later on more fruit than you could throw a water melon at and nuts by the carrier bag full are offered to passing traffic by over enthusiastic youngsters. .

The last 100km of the journey traverses an arid desert of rocky rolling hills bisected by a new ribbon of bright blue/Black tarmac in the otherwise sandy scene. .
But with a high 30° temperature and a strong gusty side wind blowing for the duration, I spent all my concentration on simply staying on said tarmac rather than on the unfinished sides.

Two other points highlighted this little trip, I spoke to a few locals en route and all were smiling and friendly  asking where I was from and where I was going. Lots of drivers waving and tooting appreciation as they passed. The second was that despite other reported experiences I managed to slip under the police radar. . There is a lot of them but none took any interest in me and my little Kawasaki.

So Baku. 

A modern busy city with a plethora of high end motors rumbling through the sea side streets. Tall glass buildings and expensive hotels on the sea front. An obviously wealthy town that contrasts with the countryside farmers ladas and one horsepower carts.

It remains to be seen if the ferry lives up to the legend.

The Caspian awaits . . . . 


Unknown said...

Hi mark just caught up on your blogs sounds very interesting glad things r going well for you keep on with blogs very interesting keep safe

Minirollsrule said...

Hi Mark
Just stumbled across your blog and its incredible, really inspiring espesially for a fellow Versys rider. I have had dreams of doing what you are doing and im really enjoying reading about your travels.
I wish you all the best and safe travels
Cheers, Matt

Minirollsrule said...

Hi Mark
Iv just stumbled across your blog and its incredible, such an inspiration, especially to a fellow versys rider. Iv had dreams of doing what you are doing so its great to get to hear about your journey in such detail.
I wish you all the best, enjoy it for all of us wannabe travelers and have a safe trip.