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Things I learnt about Azerbaijan in 4 days

1. Azerbaijani people are very hospitable

They go out of their way to help you, serve you when you are their guest, and make you feel at home. They are super friendly and easy to talk to!

2. Not everyone can speak English

If you are going to explore the country by yourself, good luck with communicating and getting directions and information because most of the locals do not speak English. They are well versed in Azerbaijani language, Turkish and Russian. Be prepared to use Google translate and lots of hand movements to explain your point. 😀😅

3. Azerbaijanis are all Muslims

The country is a Muslim country and all of them follow the religion of Islam. They are mainly Shia’a Muslims and you can’t obviously find pork anywhere here.

4. But alcohol is found everywhere

Very liberal in their views, you’ll find beer and wine in every grocery shop and locals telling you that they drink it sometimes. Don’t be surprised if they insist you to taste it. It’s normal for them! Politely refusing would do the trick 😉

5. Their culture is a mix of many cultures

The buildings and architecture is Italian, the language is almost Turkish, food is a combination of Turkish and Russian delicacies, dressing style is Western, their music sounds like a blend of Turkish, Indian and Arabic rhythms, and their faces resemble with Syrian, Jordanian and Russian people.

6. You get a little bit of everything in Azerbaijan

You want to have Arabic shawarma? They’ve got it. You want dönür kebab? They’ve got it. You want wine or beer? They’ve got it. You want pilav rice? They’ve got it too.

7. They dislike Armenians

Almost every Azəri person I met and had a conversation with, gave a funny but loud expression when I disclosed that I’d go to Armenia afterwards. “Armenia, not good!” I heard this all the time. “Only, their women good! Haha.

8. Azerbaijanis cannot enter the conflict Karabakh area

The region originally belonged to Azerbaijan and was under their territory. But, locals here say that Russia helped Armenia to occupy the Karabakh area under their territory as it has amazing natural beauty and marks the border to both countries. Having a stamp of that region in that passport means recognizing it of its existence as a nation. Azeris won’t be allowed to their country again. Neither, will any tourist if a visit to that region is identified in your passport.

9. Most of their basic food has beef and yoghurt

All sorts of kebabs, fillings, curries have beef in common. Lamb and chicken are widely available too but their speciality is definitely beef. Yoghurt is used as a dressing for the salads and kebabs, or as a drink named Ayran or Akhroshka when cucumber, dill and mint is mixed into it.

10. It’s completely safe to walk around

I have been advised every time before my travel to be careful about my belongings, to watch my surroundings and to never let my guard down especially if I’m on the street clicking pictures. However, walking around Baku city, or exploring the other places outside Baku, I felt so safe. My cellphone was loosely held in my hands but no one even came close, my sling bag would be lying somewhere but no one even showed interest and no one blinked an eye at my wallet while paying for a commodity.

11. The water body Azerbaijan boasts of is Caspian Sea

Caspian sea is the largest enclosed water body on Earth. The Boulevard is home to the water from the Caspian sea and makes an excellent place to unwind in the evening. Swimming in the sea though requires you to go 15 to 30 kms away from the city centre which is accessible by taxi.

12. But, Caspian Sea isn’t technically a sea

It’s a lake. It’s a large salt water lake. It has no outflowing rivers and is bordered by 5 countries – Azerbaijan, Russia, Iran, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. It’s called a sea because it is so huge and salty. But, if you read in detail, the 5 countries haven’t been able to finalize whether the Caspian sea is a lake or sea. And the reason is more geopolitical than anything else.

Hint: It has around billion barrels of oil and trillions of natural gas hidden underneath it. 😉

13. Azerbaijan has become very touristic in the recent past

After it eased its visa regulations, promoted Qabala by building properties and holiday homes there, enhancing their reach to GCC countries’ tourists, you can find a lot of tourists from the surrounding countries like Iran, Turkey, Russia and the GCC countries like Saudi Arabia and UAE.

If you haven’t added Azerbaijan yet to your list of countries to visit, you are missing out on a lot, trust me on that!

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