We only had a five day transit visa for Azerbaijan. It is a relatively small country and while we would have liked to stay longer than five days, the visa was 130$ for 30 days or $20 for five days, so we took the later and decided to see as much as we could in the time we could afford to buy.
We spent the morning walking around the city as we weaved our way to the train station to reserve tickets for the evening’s 10pm train to Tbilisi. When we arrived at the station we wondered from window to window asking about a train to Georgia’s capital. Every window-attendant just shrugged, mumbled in Russian, and pointed to another window. We literally made our way, one on each side, down the entire 24 window ticket buying area asking each person, all of whom was rude, and down-right mean. Finally, I started asking other travelers. Most were friendly enough, but said that they did not know how to buy a ticket either. Everyone looked frustrated, annoyed and disgusted with the ticket salespeople. Finally, as I was about to cry, two Azeri boys said they would help us. They stood there patiently with Mike and made sure he got a good ticket for a fair price and then even helped translate from Russian to English for us. Without those friendly boys we might still be wandering around the ticketing office from window to window like lost children.
We headed to the train station at 9:30 a bit depressed that we already had to leave. Our time with the American family in Baku was great, and as we waited for the train to leave we found we already missed the fun loving antics of their young child, who had kept us company over the past few days.
The train was supposed to take 15 hours, but as with everything in the Caucus we’d experience thus far, the time was much more. But, this turned out (as it usually does) to be a good thing. We met Famil on the train, the young man who had helped us purchase our tickets earlier that day. His bunk was only a few doors down from our sleeper train compartment, so he spent the evening drinking beers on the train with us and chatting. His English was phenomenal, and he told us how he spent time in Barcelona and Turkey, as well as in Georgia and his home country of Azerbaijan. He speaks several languages fluently and is learning Spanish. An older gentlemen calling himself Frank (for our benefit) was also in our compartment. He tried to communicate with us in Russian and charades, the latter of which was more effective. A friendly and talkative cabin-mate, this gentlemen was fun to travel with and kept us all entertained with his storied (some of which Famil translated for us).