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Azerbaijan - Blog


From Ganja to Georgia

Søndag d. 03. december 2017 - onsdag d. 06. december 2017              (Update 12. feb. 2018)

Goran - Ganja 51 km
Ganja pausedag
Ganja - Dzhelili 86 km
Dzhelili - Il Sixli grænsen (Georgien) 67 km

Dagens cyklerute gik en smule opad, faktisk hele vejen til Ganja. Undervejs kunne vi se hvordan der blev høstet bomuld på markerne. Her var store flokke af mennesker samlet og i fuld gang. Vi tænker det måtte være noget af det sidste bomuld for sæsonen. Marianne tog en tot bomuld og skallen fra en plante på en mark, for at tage det med til Danmark som souvenir. Andre steder så vi sharonfrugter hænge på nøgne træer uden blade.
Ruten var ikke så inspirerende. Byerne var meget anderledes fra storbyen Baku. Det virkede somom at regeringen havde brugt alle pengene på at gøre Baku flot og stor og måske glemt at bruge penge på de mindre byer. Mange gange var byrene gemt bag en høj mur der var bygget langs med vejen, som om manikke måtte se hvordan landsbyerne så ud.
Nu var det december og det betød jul for os. Selvom vi må tilstå, at det ikke var det vi tænkte mest på. Vi havde fået fat i lidt jule stads i form af noget glimmerpynt og et par juleklokker.
Marianne pyntede hendes fortasker med glimmer pyntet og satte en juleklokke på styret. Noget vi så frem til hver dag, var en elektronisk julekalender vores kolegaer fra lufthavnen havde lavet til os.
De havde sørget for at vi fik en mail hver dag, hvori der enten var et lille videoklip eller et billede. Altsammen, så vi kunne følge med i hvad der skete hjemme i DK og på Lufthavnen. Et dejligt indslag på vores rejse.
I Ganja havde vi set der skulle være noget der hed Old Ganja Hostel og det ville vi se hvad var for noget. Da vi kom derhen, så det vildt fancy ud ude fra, men skinnet bedrager nogen gange.
OK, billederne der var vist udenfor levede ikke helt op til det vi så indenfor, men det var helt iorden med os. Vi besluttede os for at tage et privat værelse og så ville vi blive to nætter.
Da vi havde fået alle vores ting indenfor, sad vi bare i vores cykeltøj. Vi var bare dovne og ingen af os gad egentlig at gå i bad. Efter noget tid, kunne vi mærke at der ikke var varme på værelset og så fandt vi ud af at der heller ikke var noget varmt vand. Manden der ejede stedet var kørt, så vi kunne ikke lige løse problemet med det samme. Det eneste vi kunne gøre var at kravle ned i vores soveposer og så holse øje med hvornår manden kom tilbage. Der gik yderlig en time inden han var tilbage, men med det samme fik vi fyre op og inden længe var der varmt vand.
Vi var simpelthen så dovne at vi ikke gad hverken at lave mad eller at gå ud for at spise, så aftensmaden kom til at bestå af de ting vi havde i vores snackpose. Ikke sundt, men det var mad.
Så var det tid til at gå på opdagelse i Ganja. Ganja har været Azabaijans hovedstad fra 1918-20 og er Azabaijans næststørste by med omkring 300.000 indbyggere.
Jeg havde kigge på wikipedia for at se hvad vi kunne forvente af Ganja og udfra det havde jeg lagt en plan for dagen.
Første stop på vores tur rundt i byen blev en historisk Hamam, som lå i en sidegade til hvor vi boede. Så gik vi hen for at se den lutherianske kirke og derfra ned til floden. Til vores store overraskelse var der ingen vand i floden, selvom det så ud til at have været en stor flod. Derfra gik vi hen til den nyistandsatte gågade - Cavadxan. En hyggelig gade med små skulpture, cafe´er og forskellige butikker. Gaden førte op til centrum af Ganja. Her lå mosquen Sah Abbas og den gamle hamam Chokek. Hele centrum er en kæmpe plads med smukke bygninger rundt om, den ene mere prangende end den anden. Så der var nok at kigge på.
Vejret viset sig fra sin smukke side med solskin og omkring 12-14 grader.
Imens vi gik rundt, kom en mand hen til os og sagde der var et eller andet vi skulle se i en af de andre gader, vi forstod bare ikke hvad? Men gik i den retning han havde peget. For enden af gaden kom vi til det der blev kaldt Bottle House. Et hus hvor en stor del af huset er blevet bygget af tomme flaske. Et sjov indslag.
Efter bottle house gik vi hen til den ortodoxe kirke og gik ind for at se hvad den havde at byde på. den var så smuk udsmykket og lyset fra solen gav en helt speciel stemning inde i kirken. Vi måtte ikke tage billeder, men Marianne kunne ikke lade være og listede sin mobil telefon ud af lommen og fik taget et utroligt flot billede uden at nogen opdagede det. Derefter stod vi bare og nød stilheden et stykke tid inden vi gik på cafe´ Kolorit og spiste frokost.
Inden vi gik tilbage, fik vi handlet ind til de næste dages cykling. Da vi kom tilbage til hostellet, var døren låst. Hvad var nu det for noget??? Vi prøvede bag indgangen men den dør var også låst. Vi ringede på klokken, men der skete ingenting. Imens vi stod der kom en ung fyr forbi og han ville gerne snakke lidt engelsk og vide hvor vi var fra. Ham spurgte vi om han kunne ringe til et af de telefon numre der stod på døren.
Men der var ingen der svarede telefonen. Ialt måtte vi vente 40 minutter inden at manden dukkede op og åbnede døren for os.
Atter idag var der ingen varmt vand, men heldigvis havde Heidi set hvor manden tændte for det varme vand, så hun gik bare hen og sændte på knappen, for varmt vand ville vi have.
Vi rullede ud i den kølige morgen og fandt let ud af Ganja. I udkanten af byen så vi den kæmpe store Heyder Eliyev Park. Her var indgangen til parken lavet som en kæmpe triumph bue og alt sammen med en kæmpe boulevard. Parken er opkaldt efter den tidligere president af Azerbaijan (1993 - 2003).
Da vi var godt på vej, blev det tid til en pause og da vi holdt ved en cafe´ for at drikke kaffe, var det somom vi ramte ind i en tidslomme. Her var der en oven midt i lokalet, hvor der kunne varmes vand og rummet kunne varmes op på og alting havde været på denne måde i mange år.
Kaffen måtte vi ikke betale for og æbler skulle vi også have med på vores vej. Inden vi kørte videre derfra, var der taget omkring tyve billeder af os, med både den ene og den anden. Gæstfriheden vil ingen ende tage.
Dagen endte i en skov, hvor vi kunne gemme os, så ingen kunne se os og da vi havde sat lejr, snakkede vi om hvornår vi egentlig sidst havde set en skov. Det kunne vi ikke huske.
Om natten havde vi haft besøg af en hund, den både gøede og knurrede, men forsvandt hurtigt da vi råbet af den ellers havde det været et godt sted at sove.
Vi var opsatte på at nå til Georgien og havde tjekket at der ville være omkring 65 kilometer til grænsen. Så vi cyklede afsted på hvad skulle blive sidste cykeldag i Azerbaijan. Turen bød på et andet landskab end det vi havde set indtil nu i landet. Nu var der flere bakker og områder med grønne og gule nuancer.
Vi cyklede igennem små og større byer. I byen Quzak bemærkede Marianne at et eller andet blev tørret inde i en kæmpe hal. Så hun stoppede for at kigge nærmere på hvad det var. Det viste sig at være et tørrested for tobak. Ja, ingen af os var klar over at der groede tobak i Azerbaijan.
Vi kunne godt lide landskabet denne sidste dag. Det var meget mere varieret end de andre dage.
Vi tænkte tilbage på hvad vi havde oplevet og var kommet frem til at mange gange virkede befolkningen lukket, men det var kun indtil vi begyndte at snakke med dem, så var alle vildt søde og mange havde endt med at give os et eller andet med på vejen. Som så mange andre gange, snakkede vi om vi kunne tænke os at komme tilbage til Azerbaijan. En ting var sikkert vi syntes at Baku havde været smuk og gav os lyst til at se mere. Så man ved aldrig. Men nu var vi tæt på grænsen til Georgien og det var begyndt at regne, så vi måtte have mere tøj på og så se at komme over grænsen til land nummer 14 på rejsen

 


English

Sunday 03rd december 2017 - wedensday 06th december 2017             (Update 12th feb. 2018)

Goran - Ganja 51 km
Ganja one days rest
Ganja - Dzhelili 86 km
Dzhelili - Kashalo (Georgien) 82 km

Today's cycling route went up a bit, actually all the way to Ganja. Along the way we could see how cotton was harvested on the fields. Here were large groups of people gathered and all were picking the cotton. We think it should be some of the last cotton for the season. Marianne took a small bud og cotton and shell from a plant on a field to bring it to Denmark as a souvenir. Elsewhere we saw sharon fruits hanging on bare trees without leaves.
The route was not so inspiring. The towns were very different from the big city of Baku. It seemed that the government had spent all the money on making Baku nice and big and maybe forgot to spend money on the smaller towns. Many times the towns were hidden behind a high wall built along the road, as if you were not alloved to see how the villages looked like.
Now it was December and it meant Christmas for us. Even though we must confess that's not what we thought most about. We had grabbed a little Christmas things in the form of some mica decorations and a pair of Christmas bells.
Marianne decorated her front bags with mica decorated and put a christmas bell on the front of the bike. Something we looked forward to every day was an electronic Christmas calendar our co-worker from the airport had made for us.
They had made sure we got an email every day in which there was either a small video clip or a picture. All in all, so we could follow what happened in DK and at the airport. A nice touch on our trip.
In Ganja we had seen there was something called Old Ganja Hostel and we wanted to see what it looked like. When we got there, it seemed fancy from the outside, but the skin can be cheating sometimes.
OK, the pictures that were shown outside did not quite live up to what we saw inside, but it was quite alright with us. We decided to take a private room and we would stay two nights.
After we had taken all our things inside, we just sat in our bicycle clothes. We were just lazy and neither of us really bothered taking a bath. After some time, we could feel that there was no heat in the room and then we found out that there was also no hot water. The man who owned the place had gone out so we could not fix the problem right away. All we could do was climb into our sleeping bags and watch out for the man to return. It took another hour before he left, but immediately we got the room heated up and soon there was hot water.
We were simply so lazy that we did not care either to cook or to go out to eat so the dinner became to consist of the items we had in our snack bag. Not healthy but it was food.
Now it was time to discover Ganja. Ganja has been Azabaijan's capital from 1918-20 and is Azabaijan's second largest city with around 300,000 inhabitants.
I had looked on wikipedia to see what we could expect from Ganja and from that I had made a plan for the day.
The first stop on our trip around the city was a historic Hamam, which lay in a side street to where we lived. Then we went to see the Lutheran church and from there down to the river. To our great surprise there was no water in the river, even though it appeared to have been a big river. From there we went to the newly built pedestrian street - Cavadxan. A nice street with small sculptures, cafes and various shops. The street led up to the center of Ganja. Here was the mosque Sah Abbas and the old Hamam Chokek. The whole center is a huge square surounded with beautiful buildings, one more flashy than the other. So there was enough to look at.
The weather showed its beautiful side with sunshine and around 12-14 degrees.
As we walked around, a man came up to us and said there was something we should see in one of the other streets, we just did not understand what? But went in the direction he had pointed. At the end of the street we came to what was called the Bottle House. A house where a large part of the house has been built of empty bottle. A fun feature.
After the bottle house we went to the Orthodox Church and went inside to see what it had to offer. It was so beautifully adorned and the light from the sun gave a very special atmosphere inside the church. We were not allowed to take pictures, but Marianne could not help it and listed her mobile phone out of her pocket and got an incredibly nice picture without anyone discovering it. Then we just stood and enjoyed the silence for a while before going to cafe´ Kolorit and ate our lunch.
Before we went back, we shopped for the next days cycling. When we got back to the hostel, the door was locked. Why ??? We tried the entrance in the back of the house but the door was also locked. We ran the door bell, but nothing happened. While we stood there a young guy passed by and he would like to speak some English and know where we were from. We asked him  if he could call one of the phone numbers that stood on the door.
But no one answered the phone. In total, we had to wait 40 minutes before the man showed up and opened the door for us.
Again, no hot water this day, but luckily Heidi had seen where the man turned on the hot water, so she just walked over and turned on the button as we wanted at hot shower.
We rolled out in the cool morning and easily found out of Ganja. On the outskirts of the city we saw the huge Heyder Eliyev Park. Here the entrance to the park was made like a giant triumph arch and all along a huge boulevard. The park is named after the former president of Azerbaijan (1993 - 2003).
When we were well on our way, it was time for a break and when we entered a cafe to drink coffee it was as if we hit a time slot. Here there was an oven in the room where water could be heated and the room could be warmed up and everything had been this way for many years.
We did not have to pay for the coffee and apples should also be included free of charge for our journey from the owner fo the place. Before we drove from there, about twenty pictures were taken of us, with both the one and the other. The hospitality will never end.
The day ended in a forest where we could hide ourselves so nobody could see us and when we had set camp, we talked about when the last time had been we had seen a forest. We could not remember.
During the night we had a visit by a dog, it both barked and crushed, but disappeared quickly when we shouted otherwise it had been a good place to sleep.
We were keen to reach Georgia and had checked that there would be about 65 kilometers to the border. So we cycled along on what would be the last bike day in Azerbaijan. The trip offered a different landscape than we had seen so far in the country. Now there were several hills and areas with green and yellow shades.
We rode through small and larger cities. In the city of Quzak, Marianne noted that something was dried inside a giant hall. So she stopped to look what it was. It turned out to be a dry place for tobacco. Yes, neither of us knew that tobacco was growing in Azerbaijan.
We liked the landscape this last day. It was much more varied than the other days.
We thought about what we had experienced and found out that many times the people seemed closed, but it was only until we started talking to them, then everyone was sweet and many had ended up giving us something for the road. Like so many other times, we talked about if we would like to come back to Azerbaijan. One thing was for sure we thought Baku had been beautiful and wanted to see more. So you never know. But now we were close to the border with Georgia and it was starting to rain so we had to get more clothes on and then get to the border to country number 14 on the journey


Azerbaijan - Clay Camp and the shepherd

Søndag d. 26. november 2017 - Onsdag d. 02. dec. 2017                      (Update 09. feb. 2018)

3 dage i Baku
Baku - Alat 77 km
Alat - Padar 84 km
Padar - Alpi 81 km
Alpi - Lidt før Goran 76 km

Nu skulle vi til et land vi aldrig havde været i før og faktisk vidste vi ikke meget om landet. Marianne kunne huske at Eurovision Song Contest var blevet afholdt i Baku nogle år tilbage (2012) og have tænkt dengang at Azerbaijan så ud til at være et spændende land. Vi havde læst os frem til at Baku blev beskrevet som Central Asiens Dubai.
Inden vi kunne se om det passede, skulle vi med Azerbaijan Airlines fra Aktau til Baku 04:30 om morgenen d. 26. nov. turen tog en time og det sjove var at klokken ville være det samme når vi landede i Baku, da Azerbaijan og Kazakstan har en times forskel.
Aktau lufthavn var en ny lille og overskuelig lufthavn. Her var 6 check-in skranker og 3 gates. Der var to til at checke os ind og når bagagen var tagget, blev den manuelt løftet over på en bånd bag ved check-in af en portør. 
Da vi kom op i afgangshallen ville vi have en kop kaffe, fyren der passede cafe´en lå og sov hen over disken. Selvom Marianne prikkede til ham og sagde Hello gik der noget tid inden han kom til sig selv.
Vi fik vores kaffe og derefter kunne vi gå ombord på flyet. Flyverturen var stille og rollig. Personalet havde travlt, da de skulle nå at servere sandwich og drikke på de 50 minutter vi var i luften.
Vi kom hurtigt igennem immigrationen og skulle kun vente kort tid på vores bagage. Da vi kom udenfor ankomsten, skulle vi have fat i en taxi. Taxierne i Baku bliver kaldt " London Cap" da de minder meget om taxierne i London. En fyr viste os hen til sådan en Taxi og vi tænkte: Der er da ikke plads til alt vores bagage og to cykler. Men det var der.
Vi fik forhandlet os frem til en OK pris på 50 manat eftersom txa manden først ville have 8o manat. Det skulle så vise sig 25 minutter senere, da vi ankom til vores hostel, forsøgte taxa manden af bilde os ind at han skulle betale 20 manat mere til politiet og forlangte 70 manat. Men det kunne han ikke bilde os ind og 50 manat var det han fik!!!
Vi boede på Sahil Hostel og Hotel imens vi var i Baku. Stedet var kun 4 måneder gammelt og maget pænt og rent. Ejeren havde tænkt på alt. I hver køje var der en lille hylle og et lille skab med stik indeni. Så her kunne man have småting, som telefon og værdier. Til hver køje, var der en stor skuffe med lås, som befandt sig under køjesengene og der var god plads på værelset. Vi havde booket os ind op et 4 sengs mix dorm.
Nu vllle vi sove til vi vågnede og derefter gå ud og kigge på byen.
Da vi vågnede, blev vi enige om at gå på cafe´ for at spise brunch. Vi fandt en hyggelig cafe i gaden bag ved hostelet og fik to lækre brunch platter og kaffe til 75,- kroner ialt.
Udbuddet af brød og kager var som at komme i paradis. Nu kune vi få fuldkornsbrød, kager og den lækre lokale baklava, så to madglade piger som os havde et stort smil på læben.
Efter cafe´ besøget, gik vi ud for at kigge på Baku. Sikken en by. Den havde alt. Flotte store design bygninger med den vildest akitektur og så var der den gamel bydel. Smukt restaureret og begge dele gik godt i spænd med hinanden. En lang promenade langs med vandet og næsten lige meget hvor vi befandt os kunne vi se Flame Towers. Tre skyscraper som er bygget som tre flammer og indeholder lejligheder, hotel og kontorer. De er det højeste skyscarper i hele Azabaijan. Om aftenen var der lysshow på bygningerne. Ja, vi vil faktisk sige at Baku, vil blive den nye trend for storbys ferie om nogle år, når folk har fået øjenen op for denne smukke by.
Ellers gik dagene i Baku med lidt service på cyklerne, Skype med Lars (Check-in bladet), Heidi´s forældre og Marianne´s kolegaer som havde julefrokost. Vi blev klippet og det trængte vi meget til.
Sightseeing blev mest om aftenen, da vi også nød at slppe af i løbet af dagen.
Vi fik også planlagt hvilken vej vi ville cykle, når vi forlod Baku. Vi blev enige om at cykle syd på mod Alat og derfra mod vest ind i landet. På den måde ville vi få en flad ruten og derved kunne vi tilbage ligge en god del kilometer per dag.
At komme ud af Baku blev lettere end vi havde regnet med. Dervar en del trafik, men bare vi fulgte den, så gik alt sammen. På vej ud af byen kunne vi se nogle af anlægene der var blevet bygget til European Games i 2015. Vi så bl.a området hvor der havde været afholdt BMX konkurrencer og i asfalten kunne vi se logoet for European Games flere steder. Ellers bød vejen på en masse industri og olie områder og massevis af tankstationer, hvor en liter benzin var lige så billig som vand. De mennesker der lever i Baku, ser ud til at være velhavende. Ihverfald ud fra alle de strore biler vi så undervejs. Billedet blev noget helt andet da vi kom udenfor Baku. Her kunne vi se de små landsbyer, hvor husene ikke altid var i pæn stand og menneskene så ud til at have et hårdt liv.
Vi lå mærke til at tagene på mange af husene var lavet af tin. De fleste var udsmykket med forskellige udskæringer i tinnet. Det kunne være et billede af en palme, løve eller en påfugl. Smukke kunstværker, vi kiggede langt efter når vi cyklede forbi. Her ude på landet var bilerne ikke så store som i byen. En bil vi mødte igen på vores færd var ladaen og standen varierede meget.
Den første dag var der to taxaer der stoppede for at sikre sig vi var OK og en sjov ting vi så undervejs var fiske handlere der stod ved siden af den trafikerede vej og solgte levende fisk fra store baljer. Så kunne man stoppe i bedste drive in stil og vælge sig en fisk til aftensmaden.
Da vi var kommet på den anden side af Alat, fandt vi et egnet sted at slå lejr. Vi gik ind under en bro, som førte os ud på et stort åbent stykke. Herfra gik vi yderlig længere ind og under en anden bro, som førte ind under togbanen. Her fandt vi en lille oase med et enkelt træ og en busk hvor vi slog teltet op.
Det havde været et godt sted at sove. Det var kun et par gange i løbet af natten at vi havde hørt toget køre forbi.
Dagens etape bød ikke på den store udfordring. Mest flad vej og landskabet bringer grønne faver fra de bølgende bakker. Det er somom der er små kløfter. Skråningerne har etager og der er græs. Bjerge i baggrunden og landskabet er flot. Store flokke af geder græsser alt imens hyrderne holder øje med dem.
da vi skal finde et sted at sove, bliver det noget svære end dagen før. Området er total fladt og det ser ikke ud til at vi kan gemme os nogen steder. Men da vi kommer til at kigge efter, bemærker vi at cirka 500 m fra vejen er der en fordybning, som løber paralelt med vejen. Den kiggede vi nærmere på og det viser sig at være perfekt, da vi kan forsvinde ned i fordybningen og ingen kan se os derfra.
At cykle langs hovedvejen var let. Vi kunne nøjes med at handle ind til en dag af gangen, da der hele tiden dukkede små købmand op langs med vejen. Ved disse købmand kunne vi købe alt vi havde brug for.
Det eneste der ikke var det store udvalg af var kød, så for det meste købte vi kylling pølser. Marianne syntes godt om dem, hvor Heidi var godt og gryndigt træt af pølserne.
Marianne havde det ikke så godt. Hun havde optræk til en god gang forkølelse og det værkede i hele kroppen. Men med et par piller gik det godt nok til at vi kunne cykle. Det ville jo ikke nytte noget at ligge ude midt i ingenting. Vi har tit snakket om, at det er forunderligt hvad kroppen egentlig kan holde til. Havde vi være hjemme i Danmark var der ingen tvivl om at sådan en dag var man blevet i sengen.
Men afsted kom vi og undervejs holdt vi et par pauser. En gang ved en butik og en gang ved en restaurant og begge gange med stor opmærksomhed fra de mennesker der var begge steder. Opmærksomheden blev altid fulgt op af de sædvanlige spørgsmål: Hvor er i fra? Hvor er i på vej hen? Fryser i ikke??? osv.....
Da vi skulle lave aftensmad, blev det en helt ny menu. Vi lavede kartofelmos med ægte New Zealansk smør og godt nok stadig pølser men masse af grøntsager. Dejligt når vi kan komme på noget andet end bare pasta og pasta.
Vores campingsted var ikke så godt som de andre dage, men vi havde fundet et lille stykke med lidt græs, godt nok hvor vi skulle gå ad noget hårdt trapet ler og da vi gik derned sagde vi til hinanden, bare det ikke regner i nat, så bliver det ler til mudder!!!
Hvad skete der så??? Det begyndte at regne om natten. Heldigvis kun en mindre byge, så min første bekymring var, om teltet kunne nå at tørre og egentlig ikke kvaliteten af jorden.
Vi fik pakket og var allerede klar 9:20 og tænkte: I dag kan vi når rigtigt langt. Men sådan blev det ikke. Da vi begyndte at trække cyklerne hen af stien op mod vejen, nåede vi kun 50 meter inden at cyklerne var smurt ind i ler overalt og det var umuligt at skubbe....overhovedet. Derfor måtte vi tage taskerne af cyklerne og løfte dem op til vejen, for derefter at løfte cyklerne derop. Vi skøjtede rundt i mudderet og til sidst så det ud somom vi havde plauteau sko på. Ny cykelmode. Selv vores tøj var blevet godt beskidt. Da vi havde alt oppe ved vejen, begyndte 1 1/2 times rengøring af cyklerne. En tidlig start var nu forvanlet til en sen start og vi havde lerjord nok til at lave juledekorationer af. Vi måtte bruge hænderne og grene for at få mudderet af, så godt som vi kunne.
Specielt ind under skærmene var det svært at få væk. Alt tog vi med et smil, vi kunne jo ikke rigtig gøre andet.
Da vi havde fået nok af leren af, så vi kunne cykle, var klokken næsten 11:00. 
Vi havde cyklet 30 kilometer da vi kom til en større bro, her standsede vi for at tage et par billeder. Broen blev bevogtet af to politibetjente fra et lille hus. Den ene af betjentene kom ud og råbte til os: chai (Te).
Det kunne vi da god drikke, så vi gjorde tegn til at vi kom over til huset.
Her sad vi så, sammen med de to betjente og forsøgte at føre en samtale. Det var ikke meget der blev sagt. Men en ting vi fik forklaret var at vi havde cyklet 16.400 km på vores rejse, hvorefter han pegede på hans Lada der holdt udenfor og sagde at så meget kørte han ikke engang på et år. Efter et kvarters tid takkede vi for te´en og forsatte til vi havde cyklet 75 kilometer.
Lidt fra vejen fandt vi et lille buskads og ved at rydde et lille område for lidt grene og ukrudt, kunne vi lige nøjagtigt få plads til teltet. Inden vi nåede at sætte det op fik vi besøg af to fåre hyrder. De var meget intereserret i hvad vi var for nogen og hvad vi lavede. Vi fik forklaret: Palatka (Telt på rusisk) og vist sove tegnet, hvilket de forstod. Så begyndte vi ellers med at sætte telte op. Den ene af hyrderne gik med det samme, hvor den anden blev stående og fulgte os meget nøje. Vi er sikker på han aldrig nogen sinde havde set et telt som vores. Selv da vi havde sat det op og Heidi var igang med at sætte inderkabinen fast, måtte han ned på alle fire for at kravle ind og se hvordan teltet så ud indvendig. Han var så hyggelig med næsten ingen tænder i munden og hans mumlen om vi ikke ville fryse om natten. Inden han gik forærede vi ham en flaske vand, da han sagde han var tørstig.
Næste morgen kom hyrden forbi igen, han ville sikre sig at vi ikke havde frosset og at alt var OK.


English

Sunday, November 26, 2017 - Saturday 02. Dec. 2017                    (Update 09th feb. 2018)

3 days in Baku
Baku - Alat 77 km
Alat - Padar 84 km
Padar - Alpi 81 km
Alpi - A little before Goran 76 km


Now we were going to a country we had never been to before and in fact we did not know much about the country. Marianne could remember that the Eurovision Song Contest had been held in Baku some years back (2012) and thought that Azerbaijan appeared to be an exciting country. We had read that Baku was described as Central Asias Dubai.
Before we could see if it was true, we would fly with Azerbaijan Airlines from Aktau to Baku at 4:30 am on the 26th of November. The trip took an hour and the funny thing was that the time would be the same when we landed in Baku, as Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have an hour's difference.
Aktau airport was a new small and manageable airport. Here were 6 check-in counters and 3 gates. There were two persons to check us in and when the luggage was tagged, it was manually lifted onto a belt behind the check-in by a baggage man.
When we got up in the departure hall we wanted a cup of coffee, the guy who was watching the cafe lay asleep over the counter. Even though Marianne poked to him and said Hello, some time went on before he came to himself.
We got our coffee and then we could board the plane. The flight was quiet. The staff were busy as they were going to serve sandwiches and drinks during the 50 minutes we were in the air.
We quickly got through immigration and just had to wait a short while for our luggage. When we got outside of the arrivals, we called a taxi. The taxis in Baku are called "London Cap" as they look very much alike as the taxis in London. A guy showed us to such a Taxi and we thought: There is no room for all our luggage and two bikes. But it had a lot of space and everyting got inside.
We got negotiated at an ok price of 50 manat because the taxi man first wanted 8o manat. It would appear 25 minutes later when we arrived at our hostel, the taxi man attempted to let us know that he had to pay 20 manat more to the police and demanded 70 manat. But he could not fool us and 50 manat was what he got !!!
We stayed at Sahil Hostel and Hotel while we were in Baku. The place was only 4 months old and it was nice and clean. The owner had thought of everything. In each bunk bed there was a small shelf and a small closet with a plug inside. So here you could have small things like phone and values. To each bunk there was a large drawer with a lock under the bunk beds and there was plenty of space in the room. We had booked ourselves into a 4 bed mix dorm.
Now we wanted sleep before we then would go out and look at the city.
When we woke up, we agreed to go to the cafe to have brunch. We found a nice cafe in the street behind the hostel and got two delicious brunch plates and coffee for 75, - dkr in total.
The supply of bread and cakes was like paradise. Now we could get whole wheat bread, cakes and the delicious local baklava, so two food delighted girls like us had a big smile on the face.
After the cafe visit, we went out to look at Baku. Such a city. It had everything. Great large design buildings with the wildest architecture and a old town. Beautifully restored and both went well in tension. A long promenade along the water and almost wherever we were, we could see the Flame Towers. Three skyscrapers built as three flames and contain apartments, hotels and offices. They are the highest sky scapers in the whole of Azabaijan. In the evening there was a light show on the buildings. Yes, we will actually say that Baku will be the new trend for big city vacation in a few years when people have got their eyes on this beautiful city.
Otherwise, the days in Baku went on with a bit of service on the bikes, Skype with Lars (Check-in magazine), Heidi's parents and Marianne's co-workers who had a Christmas lunch. We got a hair cut which we needed a lot.
Sightseeing was most in the evening as we also enjoyed relaxing during the day.
We also planned which route we wanted to ride when we left Baku. We agreed to ride south towards Alat and then west into the country. That way we would have a flat route, leaving us a good deal of kilometers a day.
Getting out of Baku became easier than we had expected. There's some traffic, but if we just followed it, everything went fine. On the way out of the city we could see some of the facilities that were built for European Games in 2015. We saw the area where BMX competitions had been held and in the asphalt we could see the logo of European Games in several places. Otherwise, the road showed a lot of industrial and oil areas and lots of gas stations where one liter of gas was as cheap as water. The people living in Baku seem to be wealthy. In any case, from all the big cars we saw along the way. The picture became something else when we came outside Baku. Here we could see the small villages where the houses were not always in good condition and the people seemed to have a hard life.
We noticed that the roofs on many of the houses were made of tin. Most were decorated with different carvings in the tin. It could be a picture of a palm tree, lion or peacock. Beautiful works of art we looked long after when we rode by. Here on the countryside the cars were not as big as in the city. A car we met again on our way was the Lada and the conditions of the cars varied a lot.
The first day there were two taxi drivers who stopped to make sure we were OK and a fun thing we saw along the way was fish traders standing next to the busy road and selling live fish from big tubs. So you could stop in the best drive in style and choose a fish for dinner.
When we reached the other side of Alat, we found a suitable place to set camp. We walked under a bridge that led us onto a large open piece. From here we went  further in and under another bridge that laaed us under some train tracks. Here we found a small oasis with a single tree and a bush where we put up the tent.
Today's stage did not offer the big challenge. The road was mostly flat and the landscape bring green faeries from the rolling hills. It's like there are small gorges. The slopes were built up in stages and there was grass. Mountains in the background and the scenery was beautiful. Large flocks of goats graze as the shepherds keep an eye on them.
As we started to find a place to sleep, it got somewhat difficult than the day before. The area was totally flat and it did not look like we could hide anywhere. But when we took a closer look, we notice that about 500m from the road there was a recess that ran parallel to the road. We looked closer and it turned out to be perfect as we could disappear into the recess and no one could see us from there.
Biking along the main road was easy. We only had to shop for one day at a time as there was always a small grocery store along the way. At these merchants we could buy everything we needed.
The only thing that was not the big selection of was meat, so for the most part we bought chicken sausages. Marianne liked those where Heidi was very tired of the sausages.
Marianne did not feel so good. She had a chatched a cold and it worked throughout her body. But with a couple of pills it went well enough for us to ride the bike. It would not be useful to lie in the middle of nowhere anyways. We have often talked about that it is amazing what the body really can cope with. Had we been home in Denmark, there was no doubt that one day like this had been laying in bed.
But we managed to cycle and along the way we stopped for a couple of breaks. Once at a store and once at a restaurant and both times with great attention from the people there were at both places. Attention was always followed by the usual questions: where are you from? Where are you heading? Are you not cold ??? etc .....
When we were to have dinner, it became a whole new menu. We made mashed potatoes with real New Zealand butter but still with sausages but lots of vegetables. So Delicious when we can get anything but pasta and pasta.
Our campsite was not as good as the other days, but we had found a little piece of grass, where we had to walk a bit along some hard clay tracks, and when we went down we said to eachother: as long it is not raining tonight we will be OK otherwise the clay will turn in to mud !!!
Then what happened??? It started to rain at night. Fortunately, only a minor shower, so my first concern was whether the tent would dry and not really the quality of the soil.
We got packed and were ready at 9:20 and thought: Today we can reach really far. But that was not how it was. When we started pulling the bikes towards the road on the small path, we reached only 50 meters before the bikes were smeared in clay everywhere and it was impossible to push .... at all. Therefore, we had to take the bags off the bikes and lift them up to the road, then lift the bikes thereon. We slipped around in the mud and eventually it looked like we had plauteau shoes on. New bike fashion. Even our clothes had become very dirty. When we had carried everything up the road, 1 1/2 hours of cleaning of the bikes began. An early start was now changed to a late start and we had enough clay soil to make Christmas decorations. We had to use our hands and branches to get the mud of as good as we could.
Particularly under the fenders it was hard to get of. Everything we took with a smile, we could not really do anything else.
After a good while of cleaning we could ride the bike and now it was almost 11:00 o´clock.
We had cycled 30 kilometers when we got to a bigger bridge, we stopped here to take a couple of pictures. The bridge was guarded by two police officers from a small house. One of the officers came out and shouted at us: Chai (Te).
That would be nice, so we made signs that we came over to the house.
Here we sat together with the two officers and tried to conduct a conversation. There was not much that was said. But one thing we got explained was that we had cycled 16,400 km on our journey, after which he pointed to his Lada which stood outside saying that he did not even drive that many kilometers in a year. After 15 minuts, we thanked for the tea and continued until we had cycled 75 kilometers.
A little from the road we found a small bush and by clearing a small area for some branches and weeds, we now had enough space for the tent. Before we set it up two shepherds came up to us. They were very interested in who we were and what we did. We explained: Palatka (Tent in rusian) and showed the sleeping sign, as they understood. Then we started to put up the tent. One of the shepherds went immediately, the other stayed and followed us very carefully. We are sure he never ever had seen a tent like ours. Even when we had set it up and Heidi was about to fix the inner cabin, he got down on all four to climb in and see how the tent looked inside. He was so nice with almost no teeth in his mouth and his mumbling about: if we would not freezing at night. Before he left, we gave him a bottle of water when he said he was thirsty.
The next morning the shepherd passed by again, he wanted to make sure we had not frozen at night and everything was OK.