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    • Day 19

      Mudvolcanos von Qobustan

      October 30, 2019 in Azerbaijan ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

      Der letzte Abend in Azerbaijan verbringen wir in Qobustan bei den Mudvolcanos. Der Schlamm soll eine besondere Heilwirkung auf die Haut haben, was ich natürlich ausprobiere. Danach fahren wir nach Ganja, wo wir übernachten, bevor wir morgen die Grenze überqueren.Read more

    • Day 202

      Taking the ferry across the Caspian Sea

      September 28, 2019 in Azerbaijan ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

      Due to our difficulties to get a Russian transit Visa (processing time and location just didn't work out), we finally decided to cross the Caspian Sea by ferry. It's not very we organised yet, there is no timetable and no clear information about costs etc. but that's part of the experience. We know it leaves from Aktau, so we head to the port there first. Not being able to identify the right building, we ask a woman in a Café for help. She's super friendly and helpful and gets us to call a guy with further information. There is a ferry at 2am, but we need to head the port a little further down South. There, they've built a big new terminal to process the ferries quicker. However, no one is around apart from Tom, a motorcyclist from Tasmania. Turns out we had met in Murghab already. Small world 😊
      With a bit of effort, we find a guy to talk to and he simply tells us to wait. And so the journey begins.
      (Note: this might be a bit too detailed, so I won't be offended if you don't read it!)
      3.30pm we arrive at the new terminal, establish contact and make sure people know we want to take the next ferry to Baku (hardly anyone speaks English)
      We wait for hours that we spend talking and in my case playing with a super cute dog.
      11pm We get waved through the entrance gate, the car is checked quickly and we're surprised that the vodka isn't being taken.
      Next, we are led to a big hall, where we get the ticket for the car. The hall is huge, well signposted and clearly built to process masses. This late at night, with just the three of us in there, it feels a bit like we're the only survivors in a zombie movie. They then send us back out to drive to the ferry. As it's nowhere to be found we head back to the parking where Tom and I sleep in the car. Motorcyclist Tom stays inside.
      3.30am Moto Tom wakes us up (which apparently took a while). We go inside again to our get passenger tickets and car customs paperwork sorted. The ferry has arrived and is unloading at the moment.
      4.45am Time to board the ferry. This time, we're following an officer's car to not get lost again. Our gang of three is joined by another backpacker, but no other cars or trucks in sight.
      5am A welldressed guy checks our paperwork while we have a quick coffee and pack our bags on the loading deck. We're motioned to move forward (still not much English around). Our passports are stamped in one of the rooms on the main deck and then we're allowed to choose our rooms. They all are kept simple, but we manage to find a two passenger cabin with a bunkbed, a couch and even our private toilet&shower. Not too shabby at all!
      6.05am we can't quite believe it, but the ship is leaving! As far as we can tell we're the only passengers. All of us are fairly tired, so we go to sleep. The day passes without any turbulences, we have lunch & dinner, read and watch a few episodes of our current TV series.
      11pm The anchor goes down, we can see the mainland but we're too early to go on shore. We had expected to be on the boat for 20-22hrs, but surely we'll be able to leave earlier?
      2am the ferry moves towards the port
      3.45am we arrived. We are asked to leave the ferry and go to passport control. This time it doesn't happen on board.
      Everything is empty and deserted. Again, no one really tells us what to do but by standing around and waiting somehow someone moves us forward. The guy who held on to our paperwork still has our car registration which causes a bit of confusion at customs. He wants to keep it as he still wants us to pay for the boat. Reluctantly, he joins the Tom's and customs gets sorted.
      5.15am the Toms "just" need to pay for insurance, road tax and the ferry now (the vehicles cost more than we paid in Aktau). While they're gone to the payment office, I wait in the car. One of the older guys working here seems to have grown quite fond of me. He zwickt my cheek, talks to me shortly and then pets my head before heading off. Does this happen to others, too? He's got very kind eyes, a cheeky smile and reminds me a bit of my grandpa....
      5.40am there is a problem with the banking system and we can't pay the road tax. That means waiting for another 1.5-2hrs. Moto Tom is free to go though so we say goodbye
      5.55am Moto Tom comes back. Apparently we're missing a paper slip and can't leave the port just yet. So the boys head to the ferry again and get the Bill of Lading
      6.35am second try. Moto Tom hadn't been asked for the road tax proof, so all of us try to get through. No luck, one paper is still missing. Back to the office building again.
      6.53am next try. We paid a bridge fee (maybe the road tax?) and get through!

      Despite of all of this sounding super tedious, we actually enjoyed the ferry crossing. Pleasently surprised about not having to wait too long for it to leave (people wait for days sometimes), we feel we made the most of it. It only took 1.5 days and saved us hundreds of kms of fast driving (our friends only got a 3day transit Visa for 800kms). And now we're super excited to explore Azerbaijan.
      Read more

    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Sanqaçal, Sanqacal, Sǝngǝçal, Sangaçal, Сангачалы, AZSAN, Q4026953

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