Monday, April 24, 2017
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Deal Of The Week: Baku, Azerbaijan #TheTicket

Michelle Smith from Flight Centre UAE joins us every Monday afternoon with an absolute steal of a holiday. 
Where and how far from here?
Baku, Azerbaijan – 2 hour 55 minutes
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Colder or hotter than here?
Today it is max 12 and min 4.  Baku is a great destination for the long weekend in April  as the temperature will rise to max 18 – 20 and min 10 – 12 degrees plus sunny days! 
Who goes there? 
Weekend culture vultures. Couples, friends, singles. 
Any famous people like it? 
I couldn’t see any celebs in Baku but I did come across a headline “Azerbaijan is the coolest country you’ve never heard of” 
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How long should you look to go for?
Long weekend for 2 or 3 nights. 
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Why we go there?
Azerbaijan is the cross roads of Europe, Middle East, Russia and Asia. It’s been dubbed “Paris of the Caucasus”  and the architecture is fabulous. To use an example: Zaha Hadid’s Heydar Aliyev Centre won the Design of the Year Award from the London Design Museum in 2014. This project has been called “the pinnacle of Hadid’s portfolio”. Like sinuous whirls of whipped cream, buffeted into a mountain range of peaks and spilling out to form a zig-zagging landscape, it is the most complete realisation yet of the Iraqi-born architect’s vision of swooping curves and flowing space, which she brought to London’s Olympic swimming pool.”It is an intoxicatingly beautiful building by the most brilliant architect at the height of her office’s powers,” said juror Piers Gough, of CZWG Architects. 
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What’s Azeri cuisine like? 
Food here is influenced by all its geographic neighbours and history, including Persian, Ottoman and Greek, and since the country grows nearly all its own food, everything is literally farm-to-table. Restaurant meals are nearly always served family style, with huge platters to share and normally heavily feature pickled vegetables, lots of herbs and hearty lamb stews. Also think lamb kabobs and kofta (lamb burgers) are on every menu, along with miniature rice-stuffed grape leaves. Be sure to try plov, a rice pilaf dotted with bits of plums, apricots, raisins, cashews and lamb.
Must try: Badambura a pastry stuffed with cinnamon, sugar and nuts. And lots and lots of cheese.
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Where to visit in the city?  
Old Town 
Little Venice
Azerbaijan Carpet Museum  – shaped like a carpet, live demo’s showing carpets being made. Represents Azerbaijan’s position in the crossroads of the middle east/asia with lots of influence from Iran & Turkey.   
Watch the Sunrise over the Caspian sea while walking along the Seaside Boulevard.
National Art Museum of Azerbaijan
Teze Bazaar is one of the most famous bazaars located in the center of Baku. The bazaar is around 80 years old and is best known for the availability of its fresh sturgeon and seafood from the Caspian, as well as the wonderful black caviar.
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Where to stay when we decide to go?  
Fairmont Flames – a 5 star property looking over the stunning waters of the Caspian Sea
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Is there a beaten path? And can we get off it?
This is not so much off the beaten track rather than doing something a little weird and wonderful – as Azerbaijan is home to half  of the worlds mud volcanoes you may think that a mud bath would be a national past-time – no such luck. You can, however, take a crude oil bath while visiting the cruide oil rich country.  An Australian tourist described it as: ‘It’s pretty OK, it’s about the same temperature as a normal bath, it’s a bit like chocolate I suppose in texture, reminds me of those chocolate fountains at the malls. ‘Pretty warm, pretty painless, does not really smell much.’
Are there any events happening that would be a time to aim for?
Baku Jazz festival in October
Film Festival in the Summer – date TBC but last year it was in June
Anywhere to avoid?
Azerbaijan is generally very calm with low crime rates. There are some Western bars that have had some pick pockets so as always just be a smart traveller.
Who do we fly with?
Flydubai 
Do we need a visa?
Yes but it is electronic and the hotel and you travel agent will organise it for you 
Any jabs req’d? 
No but check with your doctor. 
How much will it cost us?
AED2750
Includes:
Return economy airfare with flydubai 
3 nights at the Fairmont Flames including breakfast 
Return airport transfers 
Booking terms?
Based on  twin share. Subject to change based on price and availability. This is still available for the long weekend in April. 
Have you been to Baku? Want to go? Share your travel stories with The Ticket team, weekdays from 1-4pm.