Stefan Bachmann

Right at the beginning of 2020, when all of us were still blissfully ignorant lil’ ignoramuses about pandemics, I went to Azerbaijan for a week.

It was nothing like I expected, not as surreal and over-the-top as Dubai, nor as dirty and gritty as Moscow, but kind of partway in between, a big gleaming Middle Eastern metropolis mixed up with ancient sandstone castles and minarets, and just a hint of Vienna in the tall, baroque apartment buildings lining the downtown.

On my first day I found the Swiss embassy, which made me feel right at home.
 


Then I stumbled across a museum of tiny books, which was equally delightful. Why are tiny books not more readily available? Think of the shelf space! *nudges publishers*



This carpet museum is made to look like a carpet.



This part of the city is made to look like a small, fake Venice.



This building was made to look like a beautiful, swoop-y wave, I’m assuming, I don’t actually know. I trekked for miles to see it, and I got a little lost and scurried across a (not-too-busy) highway, but it was worth it.



I don’t know what this demonic presence is, but I like that that one lady is completely unbothered by it and is using its serpentine skull tongue as a comfy spot to chat with friends.



So many skulls.



After that, I walked another very long way to get to one of the largest soukhs in the city, which was something I was recommended to do, and which, if you find yourself in Baku, I recommend you do, too.



They made little houses for all their outdoor plants for winter, which I thought was very considerate.


 


Carpets for days.



At the end of the trip, I went to the airport and shared the waiting area with a sheik’s entourage. The entourage was returning to the UAE from a hunting trip TOGETHER WITH THEIR HUNTING FALCONS. (I asked for permission to take this picture, and I’m still proud of me for doing that because they were an intimidating bunch. They were like “Is it for your Tinder profile”, and I was like, “AHAHAHA, no, I think I look more pheasant-y, actually” and they didn’t get it.)



And that was Baku! After that I went to Chicago for my brother’s wedding, and then all travel ceased, so I’m glad I squeaked in when I did.


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