Caucasian heat

May 27, 2017

Exactly two years ago, I was already surrounded by the majestic Caucasian mountains, and then I was able to see what’s on top here. It’s time to return to figure out how and how people live here below, on both sides of the large ridge that divides the continent into Europe and Asia. Let’s go!

My route:


Azerbaijan is a country of one city. All other cities look so inconspicuous even on tourist photos that it becomes clear why about a third of the total population of the largest republic in the Caucasus lives here. Accordingly, all the money and all the movement is also only here.

I got Azerbaijanis only at 1 am, so somehow it didn’t even occur to me to take pictures of their cool new airport. In the name of Heydar Aliyev, by the way. Later I realized that things are not so simple with these Aliyevs.

The central part of the city is just very beautiful, everything is made of stone, or at least covered with it, trying to create the impression of a successful eastern country.

The real standard of living is hidden behind the outer veneer. Soon this Khrushchev will turn into a respectable-looking stone high-rise building. Only the locals know what kind of devastation can be found in these impressive houses inside.

Hukumat of Baku. Or just the mayor’s office. It is noteworthy that unlike the overwhelming majority of such pompous buildings, which during the oil boom of the late 19th century grew here like mushrooms after rain, this was built under the USSR. Another facet of the Stalinist Empire.

The city center stretches along the Baku Bay. They did a good job here, turning several kilometers of the coast into a really cool waterfront park.

As much as they can.

There are many open-air cafes. For some reason, everyone is empty.

By noon, the sun becomes very bright and begins to burn out all living things. What is most interesting, I was told that it is not the season now, it is cold, and I was advised to come in August when it gets warm. + 30-40 ° C, that is. Apparently, in the Azerbaijani dialect, “warm” means “just unbearably hot”.

The city is preparing to host the 2017 Islamiada (Muslim Olympic Games).

Young businessman in the transition. Tellingly, his attraction with weights is really in demand here!

Well, wow, yes, but why are there so many cars here?

And here is the pedestrian part.

Composition: Azerbaijani poet and American Hard Rock Cafe.

Oh, this globalization.

But this is already the building of the era of easy oil money. They say that the construction of the city council cost the Baku province a cosmic sum. For example, this red tile was transported all the way from Italy, and I’m afraid to even imagine the cost of transnational transportation of rare building materials in the 19th century.

And right behind these buildings is the old city surrounded by the fortress walls of Icherisheher. Surprisingly, before the conquest of the Baku Khanate by the Russians, the whole city with all residential and non-residential premises was located within the walls of this small fortress by the sea.

I have no idea, what is written there, but the image of a cattle in a racist-clothes is perfectly captured. Even translation is not needed here, and so the message is clear.)

Night life. The city is simply suffocating from the excess of cars.

Asymmetrical light mushrooms, approx.

Laksheri transition.

One of the symbols of Baku, Flame Towers. On the surface, there are LED displays in stripes, with the help of which they show various cool things.

There will be next shopping center soon. Here you can immediately see that someone drove to Sydney and was impressed by the local opera.

The yacht club is guarded by paranoid guys who, nevertheless, calmly allowed to take a photo, and did not even wave their guns.

Little Venice.

We decided to make a carpet museum in the shape of a carpet, so that you can better feel the importance of the carpet when you walk on the rugs of the carpet museum in the shape of a carpet.

The information board at the stop looks like some kind of control panel for a transport depot.

At speed, it probably looks even more stubborn.

The next day I returned to exploit this your Icherisheher.

Along the perimeter of the road for cars.

But the fun begins in the narrow, narrow footpaths between these houses.

It’s amazingly cute here! I could not even imagine that there is such an authentic place in Baku.

View of the Caspian Sea.

I wonder how the people who live here feel? In this old, quiet and hyper-cozy fortress.

We return to reality.

Some Arabian George al-the Victorious is chopping a snake into a kebab.

Funicular with a transparent roof.

It must be admitted that the view from the observation platforms at the top of the hill is notable. On the horizon, you can clearly see even high-rise buildings located 20 km from me.

Unlike many other republics, Azerbaijan did not manage to leave the USSR simply and painlessly. But damn it, why did you call it Martyr’s Alley ?! After all, they demanded independence for the state, not Islamic law.

One of the creations of Zaha Hadid, the Heydar Aliyev Center (yes, they did not come up with a more original name).

Deconstructivism, you are space.

And literally in 5 minutes walk another Baku begins.


Street food. I’ll go from here …

Finding buses at the bus station in Baku is not an easy quest. The station building looks like some kind of dull covered market, nothing is clear, “dear guests of the capital” are looking for everything by typing. Finally, on the third floor, I found buses, saddled the right one and went to the sunny republic of Dagestan.


In general, I was not going here. At the border, I was traditionally interrogated for a long time by Russian FSB officers, so the hot Caucasian guy-driver decided not to wait, started the bus and left. And when I finally received my entry stamp, it turned out that the checkpoint was automobile and I could not leave it on foot. Fortunately, the shift supervisor was driving home to Derbent after the shift and agreed to give me a lift.

Oh, there is so much hopelessness here, as it was not even in Buryatia. I can’t even imagine what inspires people to develop this city.

By the way, who said that they are developing it?

Dome of the mosque. Like, no worse than the Russians.

But still, there is one place in Derbent that is really impressive.

This is an ancient Persian citadel, Naryn-kala. For over a thousand years, it was a bastion that protected Persia from the nomadic barbarians from the north.

The point is that Derbent is located in a place where the Greater Caucasus mountain range is practically in contact with the Caspian Sea. There are mountains right behind the fortress, so the only way to invade the country was to somehow break through these powerful fortifications. The Persians called this place the Caspian Gate.

Two fortress walls run parallel to each other from the citadel on a hill across the city and go into the sea. For hundreds of years they held back the Turkic raids, but everything went awry, when the Persians began to claim the lands of Russian vassals. And further “everything is in a fog”: for several centuries in a row one war for another, and each subsequent attempt of the Persians to take revenge ended in the fact that the Russian Empire grew and the once great Persia slipped into modern Iran. Moreover, starting from the 19th century, Russians used to go through Derbent “to visit” as through an open gate.


In short, there is nothing here. At all.

The capital of the republic of Dagestan is so boring that even Derbent with its fortress turned out to be more interesting.

The only beautiful thing I saw in Makhachkala was the courtyard of the hotel where I was staying. As I was later told, this is clearly their way of thinking: if you have something good, hide it and do not share it with anyone.

Early in the morning I jump into the jam-joke and set off for Chechnya. The chatty driver has a cool Muslim replacement for the Russian Orthodox icon.

On the border of the republics there is an impromptu checkpoint, passing cars check severe passengers with machine guns at the ready. From the previous trip, I remember that this is a normal situation in the Caucasus and there is nothing to worry about.


At the entrance to the city center guests are greeted by a large poster: “The dreams of the strong become reality!” And this is not just a pretentious phrase, it is a statement of fact. Chechnya today is a real oasis among the North Caucasian depression.

A long street runs through the whole city, on one side called Putin Avenue, and on the other – Kadyrov Avenue. This dualism is an important part of their ideology. On the one hand, the Russians actually lost the war and are now paying “tribute”, on the other, Chechnya formally remained a part of the Russian Federation.

It is almost impossible to find any traces of the war here, all the big streets here are simply licked to shine, the rest are simply put in order.

Many people habitually think that this is some kind of hot spot and it is better to stay away from here. This is not the case for a long time. Grozny has become quiet and cozy, in this sense it is an ordinary provincial Russian town.

Of course, this does not mean that he does not stand out in any way.

Firstly, this is the most religious people in the Caucasus. Here, everyone really goes to mosques, prays by the clock, everyone is emphatically restrained and friendly, and here it is almost impossible to buy alcohol (in some cafes, nevertheless, unofficially they can pour beer, but only Russian).

Discrimination !! 11

Some girl at the entrance saw that I was hesitant, as if I had read my thoughts and said that there was still half an hour before prayer, and offered a small excursion, just like that. “The Heart of Chechnya” is impressive, it is really one of the most beautiful mosques that I have seen.

Power needs to be known by sight.

For courage, perseverance and massive terrorism heroism. Honestly, well, a very dubious title. By the way, the signature “Moscow. Kremlin “: it was customary to sign decrees under the Union, when officially” the power of the Soviets “, but still they understood perfectly well in whose hands the power was in fact.

Grozny-city. Then I especially read about this complex, that’s what impressed me – all this was designed and implemented by the Chechens themselves. Before that, I was completely sure that they live like regular Arabs who discovered oil at their side, and now hiring the most famous American architects, and they themselves do nothing at all. It turned out – they do, and quite successfully.

So yes, Chechen futurism. It sounds ridiculous, but you can see for yourself that I am serious.

On the observation deck on the roof it is written that it is forbidden to take pictures of Kadyrov’s residence, so I took only most of it. 🙂

The number of active construction sites shows that the current state of the city is only the very beginning of large urban planning plans.

Unfortunately, some things are done here purely for show. For example, bike paths for the entire sidewalk, and even with a soft surface that falls apart literally under the wheels. Why are they here at all?

The only Christian church I’ve seen. Obviously, it is not very popular.

A shopping center where people go mostly for a walk, not for clothes.

Memorial to the victims of the war.

Very specific cuisine Vainakhs – mountain ancestors of the Chechens.

Interestingly, portraits of Kadyrov are clinging there on the orders of Kadyrov himself, or is it still an initiative on a lower level?

A funny building of the history museum.

Square of (dead) journalists.

A little further from the center, ordinary Caucasian life begins.

And one more thing, done without understanding the meaning. On the opposite side of the road, the check-in is generally so narrow that the stroller will not even fit.

New residential areas.

Okay, this is overkill.

The man waving the flag couldn’t even answer why they were here. “At work they said to come.” Well, OK.

The only graffiti I’ve seen in the city.


It’s terrible, but the famous terrorist attack has become a kind of landmark in the city. The only attraction. Everyone speculates on it, they take guests to the cemetery, show the graves, tell how the city changed after this event, call Beslan “the city of angels”, brr.

Anyway, I listened to all this shit, turned around and went to the next city. A photo from the outskirts.


Amondjyn uæm, and let no one leave offended.

Embankment of the mountain river Terek. Interestingly, it’s hot outside, but if you come closer, the river blows with pleasant coolness. Presumably, the water there is simply icy.

Central Park. It is big enough, but due to narrow paths, choice of trees and other things seems small.

Despite the fact that Vladikavkaz is the capital of North Ossetia and mainly Ossetians live here, the city is very “Russian” in terms of layout and atmosphere.

It seems to me that this is the kind of place where people, if they leave, still remember what a nice and cozy town they have and rightly nostalgic for life in it.

Here time kindly stopped. Not in the sense that people are stuck in the past, but in terms of impressions.

This is how everything is there for a comfortable life. I’ve even found a cool rock bar. It’s great when you are understood.) By the way, I found it when I heard from the street that someone, using a small number of visitors in the daytime, plays an electric guitar to the songs of Okean Elsa.

“Year after year, running over the same old ground, what have we found?”

The Greater Caucasus is already starting right outside the city. That’s where I need it.

We are driving along the Georgian Military Highway.

For some reason I did not expect (although now it seems obvious to me) that we would have to drive to the very top of the ridge in order to be on the other side of it. There is so much snow around, I can’t even believe that it’s May.

The views are, of course, impressive. I love it when the ride itself becomes a separate attraction.


If the whole city could be made in the loft style, then it would be Tbilisi. On the one hand, everything is ancient and dead, on the other, it is not destroy at all, but a kind of style that Georgians love and actively support.

Traces of the Ukrainian Diaspora on Kievskaya Street.

Many central streets with old worn-out houses are being restored and then they turn into real Italian pastures.

Georgians can even the most ordinary carriageway, literally for a penny, convert into a cozy street cafe.

Station jamshutki.

The open-roofed market was not sufficiently covered and the hucksters decided to rectify the situation.

Tbilisi interchanges in confusion can sometimes surpass even Tokyo ones. The only difference is that in Japan they are based on mathematical calculations of traffic regulation in the amount of millions of vehicles, but here it is simply because “it happened.”

The Kura River.

The central streets are densely built up with beautiful buildings and simply filled with crowds of people.

Sell ​​all sorts of souvenirs and snacks.

It is worth walking away literally around the corner from the crowded streets, and there may be no one there.

Although the prices here are quite high by Georgian standards, it seems to me that they are quite normal. For 10 lari ($ 4), you can simply overeat, for 15 lari ($ 6), you can buy a bottle of good wine.

Sometimes it is a little higher. But in any case, this atmosphere is totally worth it.

The central square of the old city in Tbilisi is called without any special frills in Tatar – Maidan.

The entire hill from it and almost to the walls of the Narikala fortress is built up with cute colorful houses with cozy terraces and carved balconies.

I want to dive into this atmosphere! Wander through the narrow streets until nightfall, deliberately get lost and find more and more wonderful places. And they are here, pardon the pun, above the roof.

Well, where is there without cool bars?

Interestingly, at night the city not only does not die, but on the contrary revives and begins to stir with even greater force.

And of course, Tbilisi at night is no less beautiful than daytime.

Metro. Normally, only the most central stations are looked after, the rest are everywhere damp and dirt.

Sulfur baths, from which, in general, the city began.

The elevation differences are such that sometimes the steps are not enough and you need real spiral staircases.

I wonder if these balconies are really that reliable or are Georgians just completely fearless? Below is a height of 20 meters.

From the ancient citadel of Narikala, only the fortress walls remained.

A quick inspection shows that it was necessary to defend against attacks even from the side of a sheer cliff. What were the orcs attacking them?

But what’s great is that a stunning view of the city opens up from here.

Proud of himself, he went downstairs to drink coffee. Well, since this is Tbilisi, it was not without the discovery of another insanely cute coffee shop.

Funny murals are also painted here.

“Clean up your shit after you. Thank you. “

I did not miss either the wonderful park on Mount Mtatsminda, or the “pantheon” on its slope.

Famous figures of Georgia are buried here. The famous Russian diplomat and poet Alexander Griboyedov is buried in a separate crypt.

My workplace for the day. It’s convenient to be a programmer.

It’s time to move on.


Some bum decided to squat a piece of the coast.

Sea port.

Modern architecture begins right from the outskirts.

The Boulevard runs along the entire coast. This is like an embankment and a promenade at the same time, the pride of Batumi.

What does the boat say?

One of the corners of the coastal Wonderland Park. : 3

In fact, they are much smaller than seem, somewhere in two human heights in total. Therefore, they are all photographed from below. If anything, this is a sculpture based on Ali and Nino by Kurban Said. They come closer, closer and closer, and then suddenly pass through each other.

We dive into the concrete part of the city.

Unlike Tbilisi, restored buildings prevail here.

Italian streets.

After what we have seen in other Caucasian republics, it’s hard to believe that everything is really so different in Georgia.

However, this is indeed the case.

In general, I finally understood my acquaintances, who told how great it was to come here to live for the summer.

Of course, nobody canceled the Georgian “flavor”.

But every year everything here changes. And usually for the best.

There are many places where you just want to sit, eat meat, drink wine and watch the ships sailing to the port or to the sea.

A giant arch.

Come on, tell me that they don’t get their inspiration from the nicest Italian towns.

View from the hotel where I am staying. The strip of land on the horizon is already Turkey. There are literally several kilometers to her.

Musical fountains. True, the music there is so out of tune that you sit and freak out like Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 7 in A Major” is replaced by some “Balls to the Wall” Accept and “Dogs of War” AC / DC.

We wanted to make an interesting movable monument to mother and child, it turned out to be some kind of samsara wheel. “Emptiness – illusion – suffering.”

The easiest way to get to Yerevan from Batumi was to make a transfer in Tbilisi. Georgian trains are cool: inexpensive, fast and comfortable. The only drawback is that they have no sleeping places, only seated ones.

We are driving through the mountains of Adjara.

The train to Yerevan turned out to be an ancient Soviet cart. Well, you can sleep here at night.


It’s just gray and sad here.

It immediately becomes clear why the Armenians are so proud of their vomit brandy and other spirits. In an environment like this, it’s really a survival tool.

In this park, a couple of minutes later, I found a dozing homeless person who, upon seeing my backpack, suddenly came to his senses, asked where I was from and what fate was, and then turned on the guide mode and began to tell the history of the city. I was most impressed by this – according to one legend, the city is much more than official 3000 years old, they say, it was founded by the biblical character Noah, after he moored his ark on Mount Ararat. Well, many Armenians seriously believe in this.)

But in general Armenia is really the very first Christian country in the world. Here the apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus preached, disciples of Jesus Christ himself. And a couple of centuries later, in 301, the Armenian king proclaimed Christianity as the state religion. It is also interesting that the split of the Church into Catholic and Orthodox, which shook the entire Christian world, did not touch Armenia, because here the original dogmas were much stronger than in the hypocritical Rome and Byzantium, who were baptized much later.

Pedestrian street Northern Avenue. Everything here is completely new, its construction was completed only 10 years ago.

It looks like someone in a giant tank drove through the historic buildings. In general, something like it was: the government bought dozens of private houses, demolished them all, and allowed the richest investors to build half a kilometer row of new office centers in the city center for a penny.

Republic Square. According to the original project, that pedestrian street was supposed to lead exactly to this square, but something went wrong and now you have to twist to get here.

Flea market “Vernissage”.

There is a lot of junk here.

But mostly souvenirs and other useless junk.

And next to it is the epic building of a hotel.

We go further to explore the city.

What a cute spider. : 3

Armenians generally love horrors.

And they really love to sell all kinds of junk. : D

Type design.

The further from the center, the more terrifying. How do you like this shoe market?

And what about the Rossiya shopping center?

Slum. Well, what to take from them, whom they look up to – and they live.

Stalin the bodybuilder with a crooked dagger rides topless on two horses at once. OK.

A huge cathedral was recently built in the traditional Armenian style.

The interior is pleasant and quite minimalistic. Very few people, despite the fact that it is Sunday.

I have a short trip out of town, so I return to the center to drop my things. It’s better not to leave the main streets here.)

In all the reviews to the hostel, it was written that this is a cozy and very authentic area. Yes, it was necessary to make a discount for the region.

Peach lemonade. It is really as delicious as you imagine.

So I got on the bus going to the Khor Virap temple. I was driving and driving, and then the driver said to me: “Come out, Khor Virap is there, beyond the field, 2 km somewhere,” and under the sound of the drops of the beginning of rain he leaves somewhere further. O_o

And this, in fact, is what everyone goes to this unfortunate Khor Virap for – from it a stunning view of the pride of Armenia, Mount Ararat opens up. Interestingly, the mountain itself is already in Turkey. Immediately behind the temple, 200 meters away, there are already border pillars.

And then the clouds cleared a little and I went nuts. It turns out that Ararat is not one mountain, but two! Moreover, a neat, conical shape, a kind of Armenian Fuji, is Small Ararat, 3896 m high, and a few kilometers from it there is another, massive, Big Ararat, it is already as much as 5165 meters.

The next morning, the weather is sunny again, everyone is happy, but I walk on the hot asphalt and hope to not get burned on the last day of the trip.

A cascade of fountains, one of the main attractions of the city. Below sculpture garden, under the steps – a small exhibition. Above, the local Sauron is watching all & nbsp;

The guy is stuck in textures.

Yes, I know we all do this in the bathroom sometimes. But surely not every one of us comes to a walking fish?

Many, many slums.

Headquarters of the Armenian Cycling Club.

Existential bar “Jean-Paul” lol. Foursquare recommended it as one of the best bars in town, but the cocktails turned out to be a terrible drink. Although it is possible that in other bars it is even worse. They get drunk, and then lie under the fences, they learn existence.

In general, I came to the conclusion that the only thing that Armenians do really well is they cook meat. Here, so come here, eat meat and try not to go anywhere else, so as not to spoil your experience. 😀