Saturday, June 30, 2012

Adventures in Azerbaijan - Chapter One

My husband and I were invited to travel with a group to Baku, Azerbaijan in May. I had to find it on a map, learn to pronounce and spell Azerbaijan. I think that was the purpose of this trip - to educate Americans about the country, its history, culture and people.

From the Press Release: "Coinciding with the Eurovision Song Contest, the Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasians, TCAE, a leading independent and an umbrella organization committed to advancing the interaction among American and Turkish, Turkic and Eurasian people, is hosting some 150+ representatives from the US including State Senators, State Representatives, Mayors and other officials and high level guests on a study trip to the oil rich country of Azerbaijan which last year celebrated its 20th anniversary of independence from the former USSR."

Landing in Istanbul, Turkey. From here we boarded a flight for Baku with 186 other Americans from around the country.

The Jumeirah Hotel in Baku was our final destination for the day.
 The sun was rising by the time we were checked in and ready for sleep.
 I never did figure out how long the trip took. Little Rock to Los Angeles to Istanbul to Baku.
 We had very little time to relax before taking off "sight-seeing".

An example of the old and new in Baku.

The Arkansas Delegation

Martyr's Avenue

Another Memorial

Maiden Tower

Walking through "Old City" Baku

Statue of Aliagha Vahid - Poet

Lunch - Art Garden Restaurant (Delicious!)

The chandelier at the Jumeirah Hotel
We were honored to be the first group to stay in this new hotel. It was very modern and full of silver and gold bling!

First Course - Dinner Absheron Marriott Hotel

Night View of Baku

Welcoming Dinner - (Note the dancers in the background.)
The Azerbaijani's do know how to throw a party!

The American Center - Foreign Languages University
The students study English as well as American culture.
There were movies, television series, books, etc.

Construction is evident everywhere in Baku.
 This is one of the more interesting new buildings.
 Five, five star hotels opened this year.

This project  was huge! It covered many city blocks.

Infrastructure was impressive in and around Baku.
 These overpasses were scattered about town and were lit up in different colors at night.

Samovar museum at Gala Village

Lunch at Gala Village

We attended dinner at a private home. It was a catered traditional meal.
This lady was making little tortilla-like pies - some filled with meat and others with herbs. 
Skewered chicken cooked over a spit was also served.

Following dinner we walked down to the Caspian Sea.

The wind was strong and cold.

Location, location, location!

I have more of Azerbaijan to share with you. I hope you will visit soon for Adventures in Azerbaijan - Chapter Two for another look at the "Land of Fire".  We will visit Gobustan Historical and Architectural Reserve, a carpet "factory" and Eurovision Song Contest.


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