05.24.2013 - 05.30.2013
I did not know what to expect in Baku. I was so surprised about how beautiful it is. The contrast between the business/upscale shopping/entertainment area where the everyday people live is striking.
They have done a great deal of restoration to the Inner City - the walled area of 12th century city- and in the downtown area, along the sea, and the government area. The average person (and all of our homestays) were in apartment complexes or homes in urban Baku or outlying suburbs. My host is a medical doctor and many were teachers and other professionals.
The National Monument is a beautiful sculpture garden of people selected by the government as national heroes - including the president who is attributed to creating co-existence with Armenia, Russia, and other nations after the collapse of the USSR. (Although he and his son, the current president, are often considered quite corrupt by the international media and historians, every person on the street I asked revere what they have accomplished and their pictures are throughout the country.)
Fountain Square is a popular shopping and meeting point.
And wherever I go, children and youth want to talk English and have their picture taken with the Americans.