We’ve been living in Baku, Azerbaijan, for two years now, and I feel very excited to share with you 5 things that I never expected to fall in love with while being here. I guess there are even more, but as of right now those are the main ones that have caught my heart and that I will surely miss when I go home one day.
Oh, my goodness! Did it take me some time to get used to that one! But ones I accepted it, I immediately fell in love with it. Everyone everywhere in Azerbaijan drinks tea. More than water, probably! There are even cafes where you can order tea, but not water. They literally don’t offer water! OK, those are usually small cafes, targeting mainly men, but even so, I found it very amusing. The typical Azerbaijani tea is black tea. That’s why whenever I got asked during my first year here whether I want tea, I authomatically declined thinking I won’t be able to sleep afterwards. (You know, some people say that black tea is stronger than coffee!) After a while though, I began feeling uncomfortable declining every time, so I started drinking tea… whenever offered. And oh, how I fell in love with it! The tea-pots, the tea-cups, the whole process of making it taste just right (not too strong, not too weak), the candies and sugar cubes that are placed on every tea table… it’s all so very pleasant and delightful! I have a lot of fun making tea the Azerbaijani way, and that’s something I hope to remember for many years to come.
2. The people.
The Azerbaijani people are something else I keep falling in love with every day. They are calm and friendly and I’ve never felt like an outsider in this country. They are curious, ask questions, are happy to start a conversation with you even though you’re international. The Azerbaijani people are more open than the Europeans and that makes you feel immediately at home here. They are eager to invite you to their houses, to treat you some tea… to make national dolma (aubergines, tomatoes and peppers filled with meat) for you, and to chat with you about… pretty much anything, really! It’s easy to make friends here.
Mugham (or Mugam) is a folk musical composition of Azerbaijan that has a very specific sound. I find it very powerful and I enjoy listening to it live and looking at the musicians who play it. They are usually very absorbed in the music and emit an atmosphere of past epochs. It’s loud; it’s powerful, it’s unique to listen to. For me, it’s more fascinating listening to it live than on record, but everyone has his own preferences. I think that for most people this would be one of those things that you either love or not. No middle ground. 🙂
Spring is a big deal in Baku and I love celebrating it together with the local people. Novruz is a traditional holiday in Azerbaijan that celebrates the coming of Spring (the beginning of the New Year). For one month, each Tuesday is dedicated to one of the four elements: water, fire, earth, and wind. Fires are built and the children and young adults jump over them The people clean their houses, cook delicious national pastries (shekerbura, shorgoghal, pakhlava), plant trees, sew dresses, and paint eggs. The tradition comes from the Zoroastrian believes and exalts the beginning of new life and sunshine. It’s a wonderful time to visit the city and the whole month of March is filled with fresh atmosphere and festive activities.
5. The Moon.
The Moon is one of those things that are the same for all of us living on planet Earth, but I’ve never seen a Moon sooooo huge and so bright as I often do in Azerbaijan. We’ve tried to capture it on camera, but it’s nothing in comparison to how we see it, so we gave up. I’ve never ever seen a Moon so big and so red (sometimes) as the one we see over Baku. It’s an inspiring way to end a day well spent in Azerbaijan.
Those are some various things that I ended up falling in love with while living in Baku, Azerbaijan. Make sure to share your Top 5 in the comments below and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more great articles, reviews, and inspiration.