Yesterday I had a quiet day touring the city. I walked along Neftçiler Prospekti, which hugs the coast of the Caspian, and tried to take the funicular up the steep hill to the top of the city. Unfortunately I caught the staff during their lunch hour. I decided to walk around to wait until 2, but in that time ended up walking all the way up the hill anyway. At the top, Baku’s Flame Towers overshadow Martyr’s Road, a quiet and slightly haunting row of tombstones of those who died in the process of gaining independence and during conflict with Armenia. The view from this park of the Caspian is incredible, though, and I’m glad I climbed up the hill. I took the funicular back down the hill, though, which was a nice treat. I went out to a Georgian restaurant for dinner, and ate enough cheesy bread to last a lifetime. It is certainly tasty food, but afterward my stomach was not entirely happy with my decision.
This morning, at the prospect of rain, I dipped into the same cafe for breakfast. As I started eating, I recognized a guy from the hostel passing by and invited him to eat with me. We ended up chatting for three hours over tea, which was fantastic. He has been biking across Europe for four months, from Sweden to Baku. He’s from Wisconsin, so we also had the Midwest connection.
After breakfast/brunch, I head out to the Azerbaijan State Art Museum. It took me several tries in one building to locate the correct entrance, but eventually I made it inside. On the first floor, I was bored with 18th century Flemish paintings, but the floor turned into a party as groups of young Azeri art students were copying paintings and the museum attendants played Candy Crush Saga with the volume on high. The second and third floors proved more interesting with WILD Soviet-era art and a crazy multimedia installation that gave me motion sickness for a solid ten minutes.
The only appropriate follow-up to the intensity of this museum was ice cream for lunch. The ice cream stand man (dondurmacı?) didn’t speak English or Russian, so the transaction happened in Türk-zeri. I was glad to respond to ‘afiyet olsun’ with ‘ellerinize sağlık,’ which only one of the dudes at the stand understood when I said it. But still, 50% is a number I’ll take.