Baku diary of European tourists

By: Amina Nazarli

Azerbaijan’s cultural heritage, customs and traditions are the wealth of the nation, transmitted from generation to generation. The country’s rich national culture well enriched with Eastern and Western elements is a source of admiration for other nations.

Azerbaijan is becoming a popular tourism hub year by year as a mysterious land hosting its guests with a rich culture.

No secret, national cuisine is the very momentum gaining popularity for the Land of Fire and making it a favorite among foreign tourists.

A foreign couple who visited the country recently is among those tourists who do not get tired of admiring the beauty of Land of Fire.

Teresa is from Poland. Her husband Henning is from Western Germany, a Financial analyst, working in Vienna.

Getting familiar with Azerbaijan was a matter of chance for Teresa, who first visited Azerbaijan in 2012. Being in Azerbaijan on a business trip, she attended Eurovision Song Contest, which was held in Baku then. Teresa was just overwhelmed with emotion when she was sharing her impressions.

“I have never been to Baku so far. I was impressed by the organization of the song contest, which was conducted at the highest level, as well as the atmosphere that reigned in the gorgeous glittering capital of Azerbaijan. But, most of all I like Azerbaijanis. They are so warm, sweet and sincere people and are ready to help you in difficult situation. For example, they help you kindly find an address or reply in details your questions. I also like their culture, as culture is at the household level, namely the behavior on the street, in public places and at home determines the level of cultural development of any nation. I was amazed with sensitivity and attention that people communicated with each guest in Azerbaijan,” gleefully told Teresa.

After returning to Vienna, Teresa began to learn everything related to Azerbaijan, from the culture to the history. But, what is more, she began to study Azerbaijani language in order to understand the words of her favorite songs performed by outstanding Azerbaijani singers Muslim Magomayev and Rashid Behbutov.

Learning the language in 10 months, beginning from zero, she fell in love with Azerbaijani language and even wrote a book about difficulties in learning it.

Walking in Baku Boulevard, she also noticed an interesting feature. Realizing that Baku and European societies are significantly different, she noted that people walking here are youngsters aged 18-30, while in Vienna, people at the age of 50-60.

“Baku and European societies are significantly different. There is a smile on the face of young people,” she said.

She also shared her love to Azerbaijan with her husband, so that their choice for the next vacation was unanimously – Baku.

The foreign guests were big fans of opera singing, that is why having arrived in Baku they decided to go to Azerbaijani Theatre of Opera and Ballet, where they were mesmerized by “Leili and Mejnun” and “Koroglu” operas.

“Our opera theatres are indeed different, but to listen to the opera in the eastern country, where the vocalists are as skillful as their European colleagues is just a pleasure,” she said. “Azerbaijani Mugam is a high art. Despite the fact that it is not easy to understand it, especially when you’re a foreigner as it is something new, I liked the music, especially the soulful sounds of Tar and Kamancha, which touch the soul. We just did not want to leave.”

They also attended the ballet “The Seven Beauties”, visited the temple of fire-worshipers Ateshgah, Yanar Dag, Azerbaijani National Conservatory as well as Baku Music Academy.

Teresa was proud, when she knew that Polish architectures, made a contribution to the creation of a beautiful image of the European capital as Baku. The unique buildings as Flame Towers and the Heydar Aliyev Center designed by the renowned architect Zaha Hadid and modern Hi-Tech building, constructed in Baku, are harmonically combined with the ancient architecture of the city.

The foreign guests also enjoyed, walking through the narrow streets of the Icheri Sheher (Old City). Teresa and Henning spent one day for excursions in Gobustan (State History and Art archaeological reserve). Teresa admitted that the museum and most of all – the old image and the idea that they were made thousands of years ago, well preserved and protected by the state fascinated her.

But, how she admired Azerbaijani cuisine, which is different from European one. “Looking at Azerbaijani meals, you are dazzled by an incredible combination of colors and flavors, plenty of oriental spices and heady fragrance. Trying a piece of meal, you already can not break away, but, we should keep our figure. Azerbaijan is a country of gourmands,” she said.

As Teresa noted the most frustrating part of their visit was the end of their vacation. They were upset that could not visit the regions of Azerbaijan. However, the couple did not think limited with the last visit. They are decisive to come in the future again to continue their acquaintance with the Land of Fires.