Day 57 - Sun 11 May 08
Out of the hotel and a look around the old town. Had a look around the Maiden's Tower a structure that has more than a passing similarity to the German defence forts that were built on the Channel Islands, the tower doesn't open until 11:00, so continued down to the water front. It's much nicer as they are far fewer people around than yesterday. Wander into the newer parts of the city and by the time I get back the tower is open.
The official tourist price is 2m, but I plead and get in for 1m. I climb to the top for some good views. I got chatting to a Kiwi couple who have been here working for the past three and a half years. They said that petrol prices had gone up 300% overnight a few months back.
Back to the hotel to checkout at 12:00 and then head up to the roof to chill out. It's very sunny but there's a stiff breeze coming off the Caspian Sea. I've seen all I want to see of Baku, and spent most of the rest of the day up on the roof.
Headed off to the station at around 19:00, there was traffic chaos as a lot of the streets were closed while the presidential convoy sped past. The walk to the station took about 40 minutes, and I found my train was at the platform waiting, so I jumped aboard. It's the same ex-soviet stock, but in much better condition than the one up from Astara. Maybe it's because I'm in SV. After a few minutes my bunk mate appears. A very sprightly 76 year old with grand daughter and great grandson in tow. She speaks a bit of English and translates for the old man as he only speaks Russian and Azeri. He's off to Tibilisi to give a talk to geologists.
Good byes are said and the train heads off. We're joined by George a 16 year old from the next cabin. He has very good English and has just won a scholarship that will take him to America to study for a year. I think he will do rather well. Settle down and have a rather a good nights sleep!