Monday, May 9, 2016

Monday, May 9th, Baku, Azerbaijan


Twenty-one of us now.  Two smaller buses, which are harder to see out the windows unless you're in the right seat, but today we took short trips around town, and out to a couple of Zorastrian fire temples.

The group seems interesting, stocked with plenty of seasoned travelers.  Our local guide is knowledgeable, but a little too dedicated to trashing the Russians who gave away major parts of their land, and the Armenians who accepted it.

In the morning, we drove up to a hilltop above the city, and viewed the bay from near a set of buildings called the Flames.  The President appeared in the area to celebrate at a cemetery for those killed in fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia in 1990.  The celebration was of a great victory at the end of WWII (May 9th), but we were absorbed by the tributes to the local victims in the more recent fighting.  Tensions are still pretty high, and our guide's family and friends were among them.

The four of us from the first tour are trying to mingle with the newbies, but our familiarity with each other makes it hard not to want to hang out together.  We had a great lunch together at a restaurant of our choosing.  I had pasta dumplings with lamb; Johanna had grilled sturgeon; Linda had meat stuffed into eggplant, bell pepper, and tomato; and Pat had eggplant relish and bread with tomato soup.  A good local Italian company's chardonnay called Hillside added to the meal, and the restaurant treated us to some desert tea with candied cherries.

Every country has palaces, mosques, and mausoleums.  But who has fire temples?  Azerbaijan!  And fire coming out of the base of its hills?  Natural gas has been seeping out of the ground for thousands of years, and we traveled out to a couple of those sites today.

Pottery found buried around it date to between the 3rd and 2nd Millenium BC, and it looks as good as the bowls and vases dating to the IV century AD found with it.

Guess which one is older?

Answer:  They are both 3rd-2nd Millenium BC.  They sure don't look like they were made before the height of the Egyptian civilizations.  Before Babylon.  Before the Romans or Greeks or Mings.

About the time we needed to carry around water (and wine) around in large jugs on camels to quench our thirsts on hot desert days as we traveled the Silk Road.

To see the photos we took today, click on:
Monday, May 9th

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