My drive from Baku to Sheki and back was filled with many memorable stops. Vast farm lands, herds of animals, amazing food, and friendly people made returning to the hustle and bustle of a big city unattractive.
My first stop from Baku to Sheki was at the Novruz Recreational Center located in the Shamakhi region, a few miles from the neighboring Ismayilli region. With its spectacular views of rolling hills and mountains, this place was ideal for a little break and a delicious lunch before continuing with my adventure.
Not only people but freely roaming chickens enjoy the view here.
Beautiful gazebos facing the mountains.
Kebab made with the lamb chops and the beef was amazing!
Outside the restaurant I came across boys selling alcha. They agreed to pose for a picture only after I bought some alcha from them – savvy businessmen. The boy in the middle refused to hold a bag of alcha; he wanted to look cool.
Below is a picture of a friendly vendor, who, unlike the boys, offered to pose for a picture before I bought anything from him. I liked the fact that besides pickles, preserves, alcha, and other food items, he had a saddle for sale as well. You never know, someone might need one. I didn’t buy the saddle, but I bough those two circles, turshu, hanging above the jars of pickles. The vendor told me that he had a bus of tourists stop right before I arrived, and they bought all of the turshu except the two that were hanging. Turshu – popular sour snack made from plums -takes me back to my childhood. As I write, just thinking about it makes my mouth water. When I was in middle school, my friends and I would buy turshu after school and eat it as we walked home.
Along the road, starting at Ismayilly all the way to Sheki, there were so many pickle and preserves selling stands, which I found very surprising. People in this part of Azerbaijan are really into pickle making.
At a small bazaar in Oguz, I bought some more turshu to bring with me to the US for my friends and family to try.
It isn’t unusual to see samovars with smoking pipes along the road, a tempting invitation for tired drivers for a tea break in the shade of trees. As I drove, I notices a samovar that stood out of the crowd with disproportionately large pipe, and an image of a steam train flashed in front of my eyes. I had to snap a picture of this ‘work of art’.
I was apprehensive about approaching this place, by this place I mean an apiary or bee yard. With bees buzzing all around me, I didn’t feel like lingering there, so I took a few pictures and ran back to my car.
More in part 2.