MIR Corporation's Travel Blog:
Treasures of the Trans-Caucasus
Follow along with MIR Corporation Tour Manager Devin Connolly as she accompanies MIR clients on MIR's Treasures of the Trans-Caucasus small group tour.
View what other past MIR travelers have had to say about Georgia.
Day 1: Arrival in Baku
September 29, 2008
I arrived into Baku from Moscow on "Azal" - Azerbaijan Airlines. After gathering up my things, I deboarded the plane and made my way down two corridors to passport control. The only real challenge in arrivals procedures at Baku's Heydar Aliyev Internatinal Airport is keeping your place in line for passport control - Azeris seem to have their own set of confusing line etiquette that rewards the quick and the wily. I waited in a line for citizens of Azerbaijan because the control window for foreigners was closed. A look at the passports of my fellow arriving passengers assured me that I wasn't the only non-Azeri in line. I finally reached the booth and slid my passport across the counter to the woman seated behind the glass panel. She paid special attention to my two Armenian visas from earlier this year, but ultimately stamped the book and handed it back to me. While I waited for the baggage carousel to rev up, I stole a glance at a few of the other folks standing around. The crowd at the baggage carousel was an interesting mix of people: anxious Azeri men smoking and obviously eager to go, young Azeri women traveling alone, and foreign men in company garb: in town on oil business I guessed.
Once I claimed my bag from the carousel, made my way toward the arrivals hall. Awaiting me there was my transfer agent, a polite young man named Ibrahim, who carried my bag and chatted with me in Russian about the flight as he led me out of the airport. It's quite a drive from the airport to the center of Baku. Without traffic, the journey takes at least 40 minutes. Since it was already late in the evening, I couldn't see the Caspian Sea, but the vast blackness out of the car's left window assured me it was there. During the long, dark drive into the city, I took in as many sights as I could and tried not to be too alarmed by the aggressive Azeri drivers - one thing about this part of the world I'll never get used to. We reached the Hyatt Regency about 45 minutes after we left the airport and I checked in to rest up for the full touring schedule that awaited our group the next day.