Day 56 - Sat 10 May 08
What a day and not for the right reasons. Awoken at 05:00 by the light going on and the monotonous monologue continues. What the hell could he be talking about? The train arrives on time at 06:15, as it stops no-one makes a move, so I wait as I'm in no real hurry. However as soon as my feet hit the floor then up the rest of them jump and almost knock me over. I'm off the train and walking down the platform, and I can hear them shouting my name, but I just keep going!
The streets are pretty deserted at this time of the morning. I find my chosen hotel, but they can't tell me if there will be a room until 12:00. Sod that, so I give up and grab a taxi and head for the old town. 3m for the taxi and 90m for the room - but I can put it on my credit card (which has had very little use on this trip so far). It's a good room with a shower and a good location. I have a shower, wash a few clothes, before walking back to the train station to purchase a ticket - The ticket office didn't open until 07:00 otherwise I'd have done it when I arrived.
On the way to the station my ATM card was eaten by a machine so I had to change some US dollars. Walked past the post office and managed to post the LP Iran home, so that's a bit more space in my bag and a lot less weight.
At the station I head for the window with the Visa and Mastercard logos above it only to find that CC's are not accepted. So 45M gets me an SV (1st class) I only wanted a Kupe, but hey. Head back and try to get my card back from the machine that swallowed it, but it's just a chemist shop and they have no access to the machine. I think that card has gone for good.
I've decided to try and get out to the Abseron peninsular and the hotel can arrange me an (expensive) taxi, so we head off at 12:00. When we get out to Abseron the driver doesn't want to drive down to the end - it's a "bad" road. That's true, but we've driven on worse to get here! I get out and walk down, and the view is awful, but in a good way - there are oil drilling rigs out in the water for as far as you can see, and there are nodding donkeys on land. It's a post-apocalyptic scene.
I want to get up to the lighthouse, but again the driver won't take me there. He ends up shouting at me. So then we head off to the Fire Temple, but he has to stop three times to ask directions. When we arrive he parks up miles away from it, in the end I have to point it out to him..
I have to pay 2m to get in, but of course the driver gets in for nothing. He's getting on my tits now. This kind of ruins my trip out. The atmosphere in the car is frosty to say the least - he keeps pointing out non-existent light houses, and I in return keep pointing out the bad roads that lead to them. As soon as we get back into Baku I get him to drop me off. I've just had enough of him.
It's a bright sunny day and I walk down the waterfront along with the entire population of Baku, or so it seems. The navy is out in force, as is the petroleum scum on the surface of the Caspian Sea. Then it was back to the hotel to check on my washing.
Out in the afternoon to see the sights of the old city. Have a look around the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, lots of little nooks and crannies to explore. The one thing I'd say is that some of the buildings in the old city are a bit over restored. They look brand new - maybe they are?
At night the whole city is lit up including the TV tower which has spotlights on the top of it! Then all hell breaks loose with a spectacular firework display for the ex-presidents birthday. It goes on for ages!