I strode around the walls of the Old City before Ant and Alex awoke (the latter to some more stomach issues) on Saturday, looking for a hammam we had been recommended for later in the week. On my way, I found some fellow cyclists performing far trendier tricks than we could do on our heavy behemoths and discovered the flying carpet stores dotted around. Our donor of razors, shaving foam and clean polo shirts from two nights previously, Joe, came to visit us in our fig covered courtyard to offer us more novels, bandages and useful travel items to send us on our way! We had our first döner kebab of the trip in fountain square and bade him farewell as we packed to go a beach house East of Baku.
Located on the beak of the Eagle which Azerbaijan supposedly resembles, our host’s house looks out over the Caspian and onto an island a few kilometres away, giving it shelter and shallow waters ideal for visits to stranded ships! On the way, we stopped off at a Zoroastrian temple famous for ‘everlasting’ flames which reminded us of the swathes of black gold and gas below us. A restaurant later on wins the prize for perhaps the tastiest kebabs of the trip before being spoilt with a myriad of sweet cakes and delights to accompany our tea. We introduced the 5 boys there, as well as some neighbours, to ultimate frisbee in the dying light and after some more tea settled down to watch arguably one of the funniest and most moving films of recent years: “Intouchables”.
Sunday brought with it a day of activities at the beach house mostly in the hot sun giving Alex a shoulder burn! We rode the jetski for hours around a wrecked ship, jumping off board into the shallow waters when possible. Alex climbed up the mast for a sailor’s shot and we all had a good time on the beach. Having spent a few hours in the morning putting together a gigantic flat pack barbecue without instructions (two pieces remained – hopefully not critical), we came back at around 5PM to cook and subsequently reap the fruits of our construction! Kilos of beef and chicken were cooked along with vegetables, flatbreads, chips and tarragon lemonade before exploring the Russian ice cream in the freezer!
A climb to a lighthouse at the top of the hill behind the house provided a pretty sunset, which we followed up with football on the beach until the light prevented us from continuing. A few Baklava and cups of tea later, we settled down for another film, this time in Russian and therefore not much understood by us!