NY to Baku
It’s been a haul. The famed city of Baku, distant and mysterious, is not a place found just down the street. One way to reach Baku – nearly 6,000 miles and nine time zones east from New York – is through Istanbul. From Istanbul the next path of flight cuts eastward, straight across Turkey, skirting the southern side of the Bolshoi Mountain range of the Trans-Caucasus. On our travel day, the absence of cloud cover enabled us to see the jagged heights of these mountains peaks covered with snow, a sight of astonishing beauty against the backdrop of a clear blue sky. From here, one can sense how such mountains would have acted as a physical barrier to human movement through this region of the world. Here is where the Russian tsarist expansion ran up against the Ottoman Turk. Here is where rugged communities remain resistant to outside forces. And it is here, on the east side of these mountains, on the shore of the Caspian Sea, where we land in the small, newly reborn Republic of Azerbaijan.
Flame Towers Of Central Baku
Heydar Aliyev Airport, named for the leader who took control of the country following the collapse of the Soviet Union, is clean and relatively new. Aliyev’s picture greets the incoming with a look of assurance and authority. We walk past, taking in the shiny walls, spotless floors, and bright new passport control booths. The airport is efficient. Immigration takes little time. In a matter of minutes we’ve cleared immigration and gathered our things from the baggage circular.
While snow is rare in wintertime Baku – this is an arid place – temperatures can drop below freezing at night. Our day of arrival was cold and windy, and so our stroll from the airport to parking lot reinforced the reminder that there are places in the world that feel remarkably like Upstate. For now, we’re very happy to have our Woolx on the job as we heave our luggage into the trunk of the waiting Lexus.
Baku New Construction
Baku is a city on the go. Newfound independence and oil money are transforming the old Soviet city into something new. As we drive along busy Heydar Boulevard, we see a world in transformation—a place of new cars, new apartment buildings, and new offices, which are either under construction or just finished. Somewhere out in this beehive lies the flat that we have secured for the next several months. Our Azerbaijani friend, Ibrahim, tries to make sense of what we are seeing as we sail along. It’s a delightful struggle for us, fascinated on our first day of calling Baku home.