Surprise? Change? Same, same, but different? It is the little things and trifling details that build our view about a country and its culture. You compare opinions, habits, popular conversation topics…

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At last – a country where football is not the most beloved sport! Baku plays chess. It doesn’t really surprise me, after all this is where Kasparov comes from, the most outstanding chess player of all times. It is a nice shift after the many football tests that we took in the previous weeks, though.

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Tea, seemingly served just like in Turkey, has been seriously upgraded. First of all, it’s served along with a bowl of home-made jam, secondly, lemon comes into play, thirdly, sugar cubes are not there to dissolve – you keep them between your front teeth while sipping your tea, alternatively, you bite into them while cracking hazelnuts open with your very own molars. I’m beginning to understand the idea behind those gold teeth.

And the cups and kettles are painted and pretty.

And the cups and kettles are painted and pretty.

Azerbaijan sits on oil, so it’s probably going to be pricy… Baku – metropolis aspiring to the title of Caucasian Dubai, so it’s going to be even pricier? So, in brief: a metro or bus ticket – 0.20 manat, which equals 12 cents. Entrance fee to any museum – 2 manats, a bit over a buck. Lentil soup for me and kebab for Piotrek – 2.5 manat altogether. One can survive.

Baku likes contrasts.

Baku likes contrasts.

Luckily, good relations with Russia don’t translate into what’s on the radio. It is tough to love Russian disco, this is why the comeback of Turkish disco actually made me glad. The Azeri language is incredibly similar to Turkish (that’s the opinion of Azeris, not just mine), so sometimes it’s hard to know whether the singer is a local or an imported one. Classical music also plays a big and significant role, education in this respect begins in Baku metro. Each station has its own melody, usually a fragment of an important Azeri piece. Imagine that instead of a loud beep and nasal voice it is a Beatles’ Help! or an Auld Lang Syne that’s informing you about the next station. Cool, right?

In İçəri Şəhər - Baku's historical Old Town.

In İçəri Şəhər – Baku’s historical Old Town.

The Palace of the Shirvanshahs complex.

The Palace of the Shirvanshahs complex.

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Maiden Tower - supposedly the second most visited place in Azerbaijan, just after the airport.

Maiden Tower – supposedly the second most visited place in Azerbaijan, just after the airport.

And many minature colourful painted maiden towers.

And many minature colourful painted maiden towers.

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The view from said tower.

The view from said tower.

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Baku by night.

Baku by night.

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The super interesting carpet museum.

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