On our last day in Baku we slept in as long as we could after the extremely long day the day before and checked out around noon. First we headed again to Café City as we’ve missed the hotel breakfast and had a slow lunch.
We’ve seen everything we really wanted to see in Baku, so we didn’t really have any plans for today and our flight was leaving quite late in the evening. The Lonely Planet guidebook flagged Yarat Contemporary Art Centre as a highlight, so we decided to take the taxi there. The entrance to the museum is free, but the exhibition we saw was rather underwhelming. It took us maybe half an hour to see everything there was and not a single work of art was memorable, so I have no idea why this was such a great place for the Lonely Planet writers.
Because we had a lot of time left, we headed back to the hotel by foot along the familiar Baku Boulevard. We saw the Baku Crystal Hall, where they had the Eurovision contest in 2012.
And finally we saw the world’s second largest flagpole up close. Today was so windy that it was sometimes difficult to walk, so it explained why there was no flag on the pole.
We had our taxi booked via the hotel purely for convenience and we headed to the airport. There we spent about half an hour at the Azerbaijan Airlines check-in counter. First they claimed that our carryons were too big and they are not allowed on the plane as carryons. We had to first wrap them together and then pay almost 50€ for them to check the bags in. The ironic part is that we were traveling with our carryons just because we knew that our tickets didn’t include checked baggage! Also we had identical Rimowa Salsa Air carryons with which we’ve been traveling for several years without a single issue. So this was purely a bullshit scheme to get more money. To add insult to an injury there were plenty of people with even larger carryons on the plane! I took some pictures and filed a complaint with Azerbaijan Air the next day, but I haven’t heard anything from them in two months, so I’m not exactly holding my breath here. 😀
The second part was that they made some sort of mistake when they checked us in and three different people tried to fix it without success. They never told us what the mistake was and the last guy tried calling somebody three times and eventually gave up, so we could continue to the security check.
The security line was very slow and the weren’t at all interested in amount of liquids or a laptop you had with you, but they made everyone to put their shoes into some sort of screening machine. Of course this all was done “politely” by screaming at tourists in Russian who didn’t get the fact that you couldn’t just walk up to a security line. After security we continued to a bored-looking passport control person, who demanded to see the visa. Luckily my boyfriend still had it, but it was very crumpled piece of paper at this point of the trip. I would’ve probably thrown it away already. Who could’ve thought that they would ask for it when you exit the country? The border control guy looked displeased at the sight of the crumpled document, but he let us pass. 🙂
We were planning on eating something at the airport, but despite having plenty of time when we left Baku, at this point we didn’t have much time at all. Luckily there wasn’t much of a choice either. There was exactly one place that served sandwiches and we ate two tasteless sandwiched and boarded the plane while I was fuming that half of the passengers were boarding with similar or even bigger luggage than what we had. So yeah, cannot recommend either the Azerbaijan Airlines nor the Baku airport itself. If I would do thir trip all over again, I would just hire a driver from Baku to Tbilisi with an overnight somewhere around Shaki.
After the flight we landed in Tbilisi. It was getting really late as our plane was late and we spent over half an hour standing in line to get a Georgian SIM card to have internet access. When we got out, we wanted to take a taxi to our hostel. I have read online that the price for taxi should be around 25 GEL, so we expected the price to be around that amount. As soon as we got out, we were approached by a taxi driver, who quoted us a price of 60 GEL. We were like, ok, we’re ready to pay 25 GEL. He huffed and puffed and said that this amount is ridiculous, so we started to walk away. He followed us lowering the price first to 50 GEL and then to 40 GEL. After a lot of haggling, we agreed on the initial 25 GEL. Normally we would’ve just used Taxify, but the app’s GPS sucks and you need to place yourself carefully on the map, so the driver knows where to come. It is very difficult in the dark at an airport where there aren’t any clear road signs or numbers. So we were walking back to this guy’s car and got in as he spotted two teenage girls and quickly asked us whether we minded that he would give them a ride as well at the same time. We basically didn’t care that much. Just a mild annoyance that apparently hustling still gets you more money than being civil. He agreed on the 30 GEL fee for the girls and one of them said that’s fine, but for both of them. I quickly chimed in that yeah, the price we agreed on was also for two people. I hate that you need to think of all potential loopholes when agreeing on the price. This is the reason why apps like Taxify and Uber are so popular!
He was driving like crazy across town and when one of the girls said that there’s no hurry and he could cause an accident, he got huffy and said that he’s been driving the car for over 20 years and he can never get into an accident. Suuuure… I was never this happy to get out of a cab in my life.
In Tbilisi we had booked a private room in a hostel called Fabrika Tbilisi. We got a room and when we got in there was clearly noise coming from the courtyard. The hostel is very cool with industrial vibe, restaurants and live music, but I hoped that the windows would be more sound proof. We ended up going to the reception and asking whether they would have a quieter room and luckily they got one with the street view. Not as nice, but definitely quieter.
We liked the hostel a lot after this. 🙂 The rooms were plain but immaculately clean and air conditioning worked pretty well.