Linda hurt in volcanic eruption!

Posted by on 1, Jul 2010 in 2010 - The Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Caucasus, Europe

Linda hurt in volcanic eruption!

We left the fire temple and, as it was a bit hotter, headed to fire mountain! No tiny eternal flame like fire for us on a day when it was 35C, let’s have half a hillside of raging fire like an effect from a theme park!

Fire mountain is a hill that was accidentally set on fire 50 years ago and is still merrily burning away. Obviously its not the hill that burns but the gas that continually escapes from under ground. The fire itself is about 20m long by about 2m high and burns much like a gas fire on Full pelt. It must have been a great sight to have seen the poor person who accidentally lit it all those years ago probably throwing his cigarette but down and half the hillside explode as a result!

We spent the night there and came and sat and watched it burn late into the night and dearly wished we’d brought some marshmallows. The cafe was the usual dingy falling down industrial unit which looked in desperate need of demolition and we made the mistake of having tea there as we were overnighting and ended up with more food poisoning!

The next day we headed north to the coast to the resort equivalent of Caister on sea. The beach was lined with restaurants and bars many of which looked nice apart from the rubbish everywhere you looked. This was a bit of a shock as everywhere we had been so far in Azerbaijan was rubbish free. The main town though was a typical Soviet mess. Wide streets and plenty of parks, trees and monuments were the highlights, the crumbling mini tower blocks derelict factories and decrepit roads the low point. In Typical Soviet fashion one whole coastal strip was lined with factories whilst the housing lay behind and where you did have the houses near the beach elsewhere you diverted the lorries onto the beach so they could bypass the town, so we found ourselves driving on sand past bemused holiday makers!

We arrived at the petroglyphs at Qobustan early afternoon and had the whole UNESCO site to ourselves. The carvings on the rocks are in places very clear and have been linked to the carvings found in Norway. The site is high above the plain below and looks like someone dropped a load of very large Lego bricks in a pile. Most of the carvings are done where the blocks have almost formed caves. You can almost picture the artist at work as you admire them.

The car park here overlooks the plains and the Caspian below so we asked if we could stay the night. We were told yes but had our first experience of an attempted con. After having arranged a taxi to see the mud volcanoes the next morning the guide told us we must move Taffy into the museum compound as we would not be safe outside it. I thought this highly suspicious as we had already asked 2 different museum people if we could camp there and they had said “No problem” so I asked him how much this would cost? 10 manats – £9. So we said we would be fine where we were and had a lovely peaceful night with a tremendous view!

After our peaceful night we visited the mud volcanoes by taxi- the track probably would have been ok for Taffy but we would never have found them on our own. They are, as the name suggests, mini volcanoes made from erupting mud forced out of the ground by gas. They have little mud flows down the side of them just like their real volcano brothers and bubble hiss and spit almost constantly. They are fascinating to watch and poor old Linda got a bit too close and got splattered by one of the spitters!

We had decided to head back to Georgia via the inland border with Iran and follow the lower caucuses mountains rather than head over the boring scrubland of the interior. Unfortunately the road was closed and the detour was an unsigned trek across really poor roads. We decided to stick to the main road which up till then had been perfect – naturally it was then being replaced and had road works for the next 250km! We spent a large part of the rest of the day crawling along temporary roads the equivalent of and English farm track! We’d have been better off on the dirt roads.

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