Given that Azerbaijani culture and language is Turkic in origin, it's not surprising that its cuisine also carries a strong Turkish influence. Doner kebabs are so prevalent on Baku's streets that you'd swear they were Azerbaijani by origin.
Sometimes quotes are the best way to describe a place. Here are a few from our friend, Yahya, about Azerbaijan's capital Baku.
Searching hopelessly one night for what turned out to be a defunct traditional Armenian restaurant, we inquired with the locals in Yerevan regarding where we could find good traditional Armenian food. “There,” all fingers pointed in the direction of one of the handful of local kebab joints.
“This is a hotel, right?”
“Do you have rooms?”
“Yes. How long would you like the room?”
“For one night.”
“The whole night? You mean until morning?” It was 11:00 P.M. The woman at the desk seemed surprised by Audrey’s response.
Have you ever watched the news and witnessed escaping refugees at a border crossing, crushed against iron bars like animals in a cage? You know the scene. Now superimpose two backpack-laden white faces onto that newsreel, throw in a few cries of “Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan” amongst the shrieks of old women and children being squashed in a sea of madness, and you would just begin to understand what we went through at the Uzbek-Kazakh border yesterday.
Taking advantage of free wireless internet in Tashkent, we've decided to conclude our time here by uploading photos from Uzbekistan's Silk Road.
Tashkent has been the most connected city in Central Asia thus far. Rather ironic considering Uzbekistan's penchant for blocking internet sites and restricting printed material. Just one of the many contradictions here.
Trekking in Svaneti, an area the high Caucasus mountains of the Republic of Georgia, is so much more than just a physical experience. Yes, you are surrounded by stunning mountain landscapes and vistas. But the Svaneti trekking experience is one steeped in Svan culture, history, cuisine and all the people you meet along the. Here is our experience trekking from Mestia (Mulahi) to Ushguli in Svaneti.
Some cities seem to exist in two dimensions, best taken in with a camera from afar. Not Tbilisi. Its turbulent history is a veritable bullet list of invasions, destructions, occupations, and reconstructions. As a result, it tends to reveal itself in layers, both architecturally and culturally. Labyrinthine and tactile, Tbilisi invites visitors to dig into it like urban archaeologists intent on determining its composition and its narrative.
Between embassy queues for visas, we've been taking advantage of Tashkent's surprising supply of wifi and internet cafes.
As a result, we finally have some photos to show from Armenia and Azerbaijan, thereby completing our visual tour of the Caucasus.
While putting the finishing touches on our website, we spent a considerable amount of time at internet cafés in Tbilisi, Georgia. At one café, we noticed a semi-private room set up with couches, comfortable chairs and computers outfitted with webcams for video Skype calls. The typical configuration: children and grandmother crowded around the computer and Mommy or Daddy on the video screen. So, what's going on here?