Thalassa, thalassa

Not quite the North Sea, but it'll do.

I’ve reached the Caspian Sea! I haven’t seen the sea for a very long time so it’s good to be back by the water. Even if said water carries a certain oily sheen. Baku has been an oil boom town for over a century, and boy does the landscape around the city show it. I believe the correct adjective is “dystopian”. I am apparently going to have a lot of time to appreciate it, as the next ferry to Aktau in Kazakhstan is unlikely to leave until Friday or so. The concept of timetables or schedules for this kind of transportation has yet to catch on here.

Azerbaijan has been a pleasant surprise so far. I was extremely grumpy about having to leave Tbilisi with its coffee shops and wireless hotspots and dilapidated European architecture and khachapuri and plum conserve for a country which I expected to be expensive, time-consuming and tiresome (an impression based, entirely unfairly, on my experience of getting the bloody visa, but six separate embassy visits can do that to a person). And then I spent my first night in a tiny village eating the greatest dolma in the world because I’d met a girl on the bus, and the second at the best hotel in the next town being wined and dined for absolutely nothing, because her father knew someone. Good going, Azerbaijan!

Something I’ve really missed: Central Asian grannies, lurking under their multicoloured headscarves, sweet and innocent right up until the alcohol comes out and you find that the words “No thanks, I think I’ve had enough!” have no meaning for them. Still, mulberry vodka is pretty damned good *collapses*


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