August 18, 2019
Having been in Azerbaijan just last year, I wasn’t exactly in a frantic hurry to see places. After the saga of leaving Turkmenistan, hanging out in Baku for a few days doing mostly nothing suited me just fine.
Tourism in Baku seemed to have taken off in tremendous leaps since I was here just a year ago. Icherisheher or the old city is besieged with tourists, both individual as well as large tour groups armed with selfie sticks.
The pedestrianized area with its glitzy shops, see a constant trail of shoppers and gawkers. The cafes have multiplied like rabbits.
But the old-style bazars are still the haunt of locals. Cheese is stored in sheepskins and a garlic garland is strung along the ceiling. Older men still sit and while away hours in the time-honored tradition of playing backgammon and dominoes.
“Caviar?” “You buy good caviar?” from a host of potential sellers follows me as I wander. Tempting though it is, the prices are beyond exorbitant and I decline.