It took about four hours the next day to drive from Sheki to Naftalan and our lovely 5star Garabag resort for
a couple of days as a prelude for Maurice’s birthday. We had both come down with a stomach bug so were not able to
enjoy the place as much as we would have liked but it was nice to be sick in luxury. We managed a trip to Helenendorf as it was called or Goygol as it’s known today. It was a German settlement in the middle of the country from the early 1800’s until Stalin shot or deported them all to Siberia or Kazakstan where most perished.
It was sad reading all the plaques on the very German like buildings where the families had lived. They produced mainly wine and some beer while they lived in the areea.

We had never seen so many radar cameras, police check points and traffic police on the road ready to nab any driver for any reason. Vugar kept very much to the speed limits which changed constantly. It was an extremely safe country with virtually no crime. As Vugar said the only criminals were the politians and the police.
Someone flashed their lights at us so Vugar pulled up thinking something was wrong with a tyre but this man must
have seen foreigners in the car. He came and gave us a diatribe about a plaque on deer skin that he was trying to sell but he finally believed us that we couldn’t take animal skin into Australia. It was a first for Vugar and a first for us.
On our way back to Baku we passed many old cars loaded to the hilt with produce for the markets in Baku. I photographed one when we stopped at a service station and the man kindly gave the service station attendant an orange melon to give to us.
We found everyone that we approached very friendly and helpful especially the younger people.

There was a lot of lamb on every menu and I think the general population thought it strange that we were vegetarians. I had to hunt in Baku for a coffee machine but there were plenty of tea houses. There are no tea bags in sight only fresh tea, black or green brewed in pots.

Vugar drove us back to Baku and our lovely apartment in the old town. We went for a walk to clear the cobwebs and
ended up at the Bulvar Mall where we could have been anywhere in the world with all the branded shops.
We went to a roof terrace restaurant overlooking the Maiden tower virtually next door to where we were staying
after we made the three flights of stairs to the place to celebrate Maurice’s birthday.

Our airbnb hostess allowed us to stay in the apartment the next day as we were not leaving on the overnight train
back to Tbilisi until 950pm that night. We had a walk around the old town visiting the miniature book museum. One
lady had collect the largest number of miniature books in the world and some were the side of a pinhead.
We met Vugar that evening at ‘Vapiano’ an innovative Italian restaurant chain where fresh pasta was made every day.
The food was fresh and excellent and I could enjoy an Aperol Spritz to boot.

We caught the metro back to the central station and said our goodbyes to Vugar who had been an excellent driver and
guide. Azerbaijani customs and passport control boarded the train at 7am and we got into Tbilisi at 1030am that morning.

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