Thursday, May 9, 2013

Going 'guesting' and sight-seeing

Guesting...and sight-seeing...in Azerbaijan

Among the Azerbaijani traditions which are lots of fun and enjoyable are the 'guesting' experiences--visiting people in their homes.  It is best to be prepared to be feasted...

So, soon after Christina arrived in Azerbaijan, and after we exhausted the town's Novruz celebrations, we toured the back streets of Mingachevir.  And went 'guesting'.

Christina with Masazir host family

Baskets for sale on the street for engagement celebrations

Shopping for a cow's head, which when added to hooves makes for  a typical stew dish  called  Xaş

Playing tic-tac-toe



Christina with Mingachevir host family...

...and Babek's family

Soon we departed by marshrutka over bumpy roads, sometimes clogged with sheep and cattle, for the grand sights of Azerbaijan in Sheki and Baku...


...view of the road out the window of the marshrutka.


First stop in Sheki--another school
and then the fine views of the ancient Alban church in Kish, near Sheki
 oldest church in the Caucasus

 Toured around with friends Liz and Kathy...and then on to the fabulous palace of the Khan...


Relaxing with Kathy and Liz in Sheki, which also was preparing for more Novruz celebrations--bonfire preparations.




On the grounds of the ancient Silk Road Karavansaray, caravan resting stop







Sheki streets decorated for Novruz









On to Baku via the Caucasus mountain road...






 In Baku.........One of the world's largest, if not THE largest flag pole and plaza with the Crystal Palace to the left, the showplace of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest...




and Christina warming up to get in tune, just in case they ask her to also perform...

The flame tower buildings and martyrs' lane (solemn resting place of martyred heroes of uprising against Soviet tanks at the time of the break-up of the Soviet Union and the declaration of Azerbaijan as an independent nation).








Flame towers and mosque...tradition and modernity merge...

 Museum of the National Poets...








and the typical Old Town restaurant

The Altstadt Hotel--decorated with European (including Bayern Munich) football regalia.






And furnished a driver to take us and fellow PCV friends on a trip to the mud volcanoes...



And the fascinating museum and ancient petroglyphs of Qobustan...

Hunters, deer, and a carving of an ancient Viking ship...indicating a prehistoric Norse-Azerbaijani connection

We stopped at the fire mountain, where the hillside is literally on fire, continuously burning since ancient times

The famous Baku oil fields which made the Nobel brothers wealthy, and able to sponsor in perpetuity noteworthy prizes, and which were featured in the movie "The World is not Enough" from which James Bond as usual miraculously escapes a fiery doom 




The ancient fire temple, important since ancient times, for the Zoroastrians and Hindu mystics

In Qala we visited ancient and newly excavated archaeological village buildings
Carpet weaving--a traditional craft... as is pottery making...





In the so-called marriage house, Christina poses...




and later makes friends with the camels.


 Baku boasts the largest KFC restaurant in the world


Posing under the sign for the Nərd House, the one who has earned the family nick-name, Nerdstina

More famous Baku sights...McDonald's and









the Palace of the Khan

 Walking down a typical street in Old Town Baku, on our way to another special guesting experience...


Bye to Baku...

Time to bid farewell to Baku, on the shores of the Caspian Sea...

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