Cars in Azerbaijan are narrower than in the rest of the world. How do I know this? Well, when two people sit in the front, they have to hang their arms out of the windows. And that makes sense, because they drive with their dicks.
After our ridiculous entry into the country from the ferry, our first few hours of freedom did not go well. Firstly, at our farewell lunch with Hannes and Tommy, the service station told us the menu listed “the old prices” and lunch was actually 40 euro. This was a scam as old as written language itself. Later whilst Nickiy was scoping a hostel in the centre of Baku, a taxi driver deliberately reversed his car into Stein because I refused to cede my parking spot to him. Needless to say, my introduction to this shouty, gorilla culture did not make me very happy. Spiritual enlightenment continued to elude me even after I kicked his car and told him I was going to go to his house and fuck his mother.
So what else don’t you need to know about Azerbaijan? Well, when the USSR dissolved, the locals demolished all the Soviet architecture and built a beautiful capital city from all their oil money. Not unlike Geneva, the glitz of Baku stands far apart from cities we had visited further east. Alive at night in the pedestrian piazzas and with thousands of fountains dotted throughout, it truly was a shock to our systems. Unfortunately it is also full of shimmering designer shops selling wank you’ll never need and wouldn’t really want. So it took us a while to find some food and drink we could afford.
If the gentle oil slick covering the city’s bay isn’t enough of a reminder of the provenance of the country, the references to the oil and gas industry are everywhere in Baku. A triptych of flame-shaped skyscrapers dazzle at sunset on the hill. Pushing the literal to the extremes, the windows illuminate nocturnally with moving orange and yellows to recreate, you’ve guessed it, flickering flames! You can even indulge in a medicinal crude oil spa here. You pay to lie in a bath of warm, brown and thick crude oil. Hello? Carcinogens coating your most delicate of delicates! Try washing that out from where the sun don’t shine!
We even had trouble scraping the turd from our shoes when we came to leave the country. Aside from some untouched Amazonian tribes, the Azeris must be the only people in the world who cannot tell one end of a motorbike from the other:
“Where’s your visa?”
“Do you have a drone?”
“Have you been to Armenia?”