My Trip

April 2018


I arrived on a Friday morning by the night train from Tbilisi, not sure if the two Caucasus countries would be similar or different. Turns out they're very different, but in ways that make them both interesting. Baku, for one, was one of the most modern cities I've ever seen, with pristine stone buildings, numerous pedestrian streets, and virtually no garbage anywhere. It was definitely one of the most visually beautiful cities I've seen, but the only downside was that it didn't have quite the outgoing spark of life Tbilisi has. The best part of the trip though had to be the time spent with my friends Nadir and Zinyat. The two of them went all out to make sure I had the best trip possible and made me feel welcomed like royalty.

Outside of the city, we made trips to an ancient Zoroastrian fire temple called Ashtegah, which was one of the most interesting sites I've seen anywhere and to a site of Neolithic stone carvings called Gobustan. There, alongside the history and thousands of amazing carvings, the natural landscape was absolutely mesmorizing. It is a place I absolutely wish to return to some day, and makes me want to explore more of the nature Azerbaijan has to offer.

Hobo Advice/Recommendations

Despite the relatively small size, there's a lot to do in Azerbaijan. I recommend balancing your time between Baku and the countryside. But when I say countryside, I'm referring more to natural and historical sites scattered throughout the country. Azerbaijan has a huge, long, and rich history being one of the earliest settled places in human society and being at the crossroads between Persian, Turkish, and Russian cultures. Try to do and see things here that you cannot do elsewhere, such as the Zoroastrian fire temple Ashtegah, the Caspian Sea coast, and the country's mud volcanoes (since nearly half of the world's supply exist only within Azerbaijan). Open yourself to new experience and try to make friends. People can be incredibly welcoming here and that makes the trip infinitely better.


  • Visit Gobustan, preferably at a quieter time
  • Walk throught the medieval castle in the center
  • Drink traditional Azeri tea
  • Go to the Caspian Sea
  • Make friends (never have I been treated so well before)
  • Find a street musician
  • Make the trip to the fire temple
  • Prepare yourself for the wind
  • Absolutely bring your camera
  • Do not be in a car during rush hour
  • Try the shisha/hooka
  • Walk the many stairs to the top of the city


Seeing as my trip both began and ended in the country's capital, Baku, it deserves a page here on the blog. I arrived on a Friday morning by the night train from Tbilisi, not sure if the two Caucasus cities would be similar or different. Turns out they're very different, but in ways that make them both interesting. Baku, for one, was one of the most modern cities I've ever seen, with pristine stone buildings, numerous pedestrian streets, and virtually no garbage anywhere. It was definitely one of the most visually beautiful cities I've seen, but the only downside was that it didn't have quite the outgoing spark of life Tbilisi has. For example, as I'd walk down gorgeous, tree-lined streets, there would be almost no one out and about, making it seem a little like a ghost town. Anyway though, here are the things that stood out to me about Baku.



I've never in my life seen a city quite like Baku. From the first minute after getting off the train, it was apparent that everything was incredibly new. However, it was not 'new' in the same sense as an eyesore like Dubai or some horrifying resort city. Everything was instead built out of stone and was a color similar to sand, made to resemble the traditional cultural Azeri architecture. All the buildings though, were in absolutely pristine condition, as were the monuments and many parks scattered throughout the urban area. There were very few skyscrapers, and nearly everything was focused towards a ground level.

On top of that, Baku is spotless. Literally, during my entire week there I couldn't find a single piece of trash in the city. Every street and every building was clean and maintained really well. Even the pollution was surprisingly really low despite the city's large size of three million and the abundance of cars. I'm not particularly sure how this happens but maybe it's due to the constant and ever-present wind keeping the air moving.



One of my personal favorites here was the waterfront part of Baku along the Caspian Sea. There's a long walking/cycling path going along the waterfront in the center and once you get further and further out, it eventually turns into a calm beach with clean water and smooth sand. This all made for incredibly gorgeous views, and if I could recommend one thing, it would be to climb the huge set of stairs in the city center and look out over the waters below. It was quite an experience.



Good news and bad news. The bad news is that there are not many street musicians in Baku. The good news is that the ones that are there are amazing. It almost made me wish that the usually quiet streets were flooded with music, but as that was not the case, I really appreciated what I found. I may have just seen at most one or two per day, but each musician completely blew me away, mixing traditional Azeri rythems with modern instruments. If you ever get the chance to go and come across a musician, wait around for a while and listen to the show. Believe me, you won't regret it.



This was one of the most interesting features I found in Baku. Directly in the city center, there is the ancient medieval castle castle walls with the interior remodeled to fit the modern city. There are windy walking streets that weave up and down the different levels, all the while tea shops and traditional Azeri restaurants have been constructed within the ramparts. Just like the outside, all of the stone within the castle also maintains the same sandy color and green trees sprout up here and there. One really striking features for me was that there are a lot of ancient, wooden artillery devices like catapults lining the walls. The whole place itself was very large and contained many twisting, interweaving streets, each with it's own unique aspect. It's definitely worth spending a day there.

Shout Out to Friends and Hospitality

So I need to give credit where credit is due. During my trip to Azerbaijan two weeks ago, I was treated better than royalty and shown hospitality unparalleled to anything I've ever experienced before. It was better than any ancient petroglyph or ancient temple, and it topped seeing the Caspian Sea for the first time ever. And, in fact, I was only able to see those sights due to the friends who hosted me. So, therefore, this post if for Zinyat, Nadir, and Lamiya.

I first arrived in the country at about 9:00 in the morning on a Friday to the Baku central train station. Naturally (due to spending the last 12 hours on a train), I was a bit out of sorts. Thankfully for me, however, Nadir was already standing and waiting for my arrival on the platform. Knowing what was best for me, he instantly took me to the nearest coffee shop and made sure I back up to a functioning level. We then called Zinyat (who was at work until the evening) to tell her that I had arrived, and then Nadir took me to see the sea before ultimately bringing me to my hostel so I could check in and settle down. Later on in the evening, I met up with him and Zinyat, and together they took me all around the city before we eventually settled into a nice restaurant in the city center for dinner and drinks. And although I insisted on paying for myself. They absolutely refused to let me spend money, stating that I was a guest and it was their pleasure to cover me. Anyway, that was just day one.


Over the course of the next week, we walked around and explored every side of Baku, from traditional tea rooms to the beachfront of the Caspian Sea, to the medieval castle in the city center, and even to a shisha-karaoke bar. The experience wasn't just limited to the city either, because like the amazing hosts they were, Zinyat and Nadir both made sure I got to see the places around in the country. For example, on my third day, I got a message from Zinyat saying, "Hey, can you be ready in an hour?" I replied, "sure," as I wondered what this could possibly be. Then, about an hour later, a car pulled up for me and together we went to an ancient Zoroastrian fire-worshiping temple.

However, the best part of all had to be the dinners we all had together at their friend Lamiya's house. Twice, we all gathered together there for home-cooked meals more delicious than I could imagine (this time not exaggerating) and generous amounts of Georgian wine. During this time, we all hung around and talked for hours on end all the while feasting and drinking in order to replenish ourselves after walking what felt like the entire city of Baku. It was a time I will never forget and hospitality unlike anything I've ever had before while traveling.

Following that, Zinyat and Nadir proceeded to take me through the ancient castle in the city center and to a traditional tea restaurant (which was amazing), as a means to show me a little more of the cultural side of things. Together, they were determined to show me everything Baku had to offer and all I had to do was sit back and enjoy the ride.



See this place


Throughout my life, I have seen many things. This has ranged from gigantic mountains to deep seas, to my friend Doug nearly getting into a fight after he cut the entire bathroom line in a Russian bar (long story). Therefore, it takes a lot to amaze or surprise me. But the historical site of Gobustan in Azerbaijan absolutely did just that, exceeding my wildest expectations (and my expectations are often quite wild).

Located just about an hour outside the city, I made the trip with my friends Zinyat and Nadir. Together, we took a bus to the city limits and then a taxi from there. As we went, the urban atmosphere slowly changed to open planes and large hills until we reached one particular place that seemed a bit different from the rest. Standing a bit away from the others, a large hill with gigantic stones protruding out of it loomed on the horizon. Our driver turned and drove in that direction. It was our destination.


Not know what to expect, I stepped out of the car and was immediately overwhelmed by my surroundings in the most amazing way possible. It was as if I'd entered into a different era in time (except for a single sign with an arrow reading 'toilet'). We walked forward, eager to explore the place in front of us. Following the trail, we entered the first of the cave-like caverns. The rocks were so close we could just reach out and touch them (although the signs commanded us not to). That's when I noticed it. All around us were images of animals and people, etched into the rocks. These were the ancient petroglyphs the site was known for.

I meandered my way all over the site in a complete state of awe, staring at scenes of celebrations, dances, hunts, and herding from thousands upon thousands of years ago. As someone with a fascination in history, this was like finding a gold mine for me. And aside from the numerous caverns with thousands of images, there were several large stones that were hollowed out for drumming (presumably for rituals way back when), which were just sitting there for you to hit with a rock. So naturally, I did... several times. And as an added plus, the whole place was situated in just a way that provided an incredible view of the open planes and Caspian Sea below.  Anyways, I'm struggling to think of the right words to describe the place, so I'll just take the easy way out and use pictures. Please enjoy.

Carving of a bull

Carving of a bull

Caspian Sea up ahead

Caspian Sea up ahead

One sign of modernity

One sign of modernity

Good times with good friends

Good times with good friends