Thursday, August 18, 2011

Places to Go: İlisu?

Last week, I went to one of the most infamous places in all of Azerbaijan: İlisu [link].

Now, after all the hype, I was kind of expecting unicorns and waterfalls. Instead, I got a quaint little town and a tea house.


Do not get me wrong. The mountain breeze was nice and the several tourist traps spoke of an increasing Azerbaijani interest in catering to visitors, but eh. I get all those things in Zaqatala.

What it really came down to was my [American] idea of side-tripping and the Azerbaijani idea of vacationing are so dissimilar you need to build a state-of-the-art subway system between the two to find any common ground.

I mean, follow me here folks. In Americastan, when it comes to vacation, we Americans Do. It. Up. We are talking waking up at 5:30 a.m. to catch our 8 a.m. flight and then heading straight to the beach. After that, we reserve a nice table and drop a few hundred on drinks and delicious food. The next day, we are up again at 6 a.m., except this time it is snorkeling and sunburns. We have a tours on horse-back and maybe a day or two on a bus touring around the island. We never take a break and we get the most bang for our buck*.

Compare that to Azerbaijanis who visit a quaint little town with a tea house. They spend a month waking up super late, breathing in fresh air, drinking tea, and maybe bathing in the natural hot springs. Most evenings are spent strolling through town with your families and spending hours chatting on the porch*.

Seriously. The difference between these two vacationing styles is so vast, it boggles my mind. Of course, over the last three years, I have come to appreciate pieces of both styles and hope to continue to find a perfect mix of the two, thus creating my perfect vacationing style. However, I still cannot get down with just the teahouses. I need an amusement park or something.

*Some artistic license was taken with descriptions. Don't sue me.