Saturday, April 27, 2013

In Azerbaijan...Sort of

I actually made it to Azerbaijan...well, sort of.  So here's the deal.  Currently, I'm dead tired and feel like Tom Hanks in The Terminal.  I was supposed to fly, last night, from Prague to Tbilisi, Georgia.  When I went to check in for my Czech Airlines flight I was told that my flight was oversold.  The good news was that I could still board my original flight.  However, if I was willing to give up my seat, take an alternate route with a different airline and have a six hour delay then I would receive €300.  Hmmm...not a bad deal.

New Václav Havel Airport Sign
My flight plan was to depart Prague at 10 PM and get to Tbilisi around 3 AM.  Now I would fly from Prague to Baku on Azerbaijan Airlines, stay there for six hours, then arrive in Tbilisi at 11 AM.

Originally, I would not arrive to my hotel until around 4 AM on Saturday morning so I still had to pay for the Friday night stay.  Even if I arrived six hours later I would still need to pay for the Friday night stay so it's not like I'm out any additional money.  Plus I won't have to deal with getting from the airport to the hotel in the middle of the night.

I took the deal.  Along with 12 Russians.  Now here's where things get interesting.

As soon as we got off the plane in Baku we found ourselves immediately facing Azeri immigration.  Remember that I still don't have a visa for Azerbaijan yet.  The 13 of us were told, in Russian, to stand to the side and wait.  A few minutes later, someone came and escorted us through some random airport hallway to our international departure lounge.  I had to show my passport, luggage tag, my ongoing boarding pass, promise not to leave the transit lounge and sign a document pledging not to remain in Azerbaijan without a visa.  It's a good thing that my Russian, while very rusty, seems to be working.    

So I'm waiting in front of gate 5 at Heydar Aliyev International Airport for my flight to Georgia.  There's not a lot going on here.  There are no ATMs but there is an exchange kiosk so I changed €20 for 20 Manat so that I could get some coffee.  There are soldiers who routinely pass by and the chairs are not exactly made for taking a nap.  Fortunately there is free Wi-Fi.  I'm tired and ready to fly on.  But if I'm unable to get my Azeri visa in Tbilisi then I guess this will be as close to visiting Azerbaijan as I get.

No comments:

Post a Comment