Baki, Azerbaijan (Silk Route Scouting Report)
It is of course a truism that coming to a place one has never visited before, one will be surprised about what he/she will find. For example, did you know that part of the Nobel fortune that is annually distributed to the Nobel price winners was made here in the 19th century when Baki (I always thought it was Baku) first experienced the oil boom, what one would now call the beginning of the oil age.
Did you know that the Azeri language is almost identical to Turkish and they also share the culture, the looks and the hospitality as well as a liberal approach to Islam. (I have yet to see a woman in hajib or shador but there are no lack of stylish high heels boots and shoes.)
Here are few more things I have learned in the last three days; there is remarkable carpet museum, I would call it carpet heaven for those who love hand made carpets, the wind in this city can beat any wind in Chicago and the food is delicious. So is the beer, the wine and the vodka!
There are some amazing 19th century oil mansions and an on-going construction boom generated, I suppose, by the latest oil boom. There is a new high rise being built, it seems, on every corner.
Oh, and one more thing, the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Sports and Culture have been very supportive of our Silk Route Tour and are helping with all necessary logistics and support.