40 FOCUS MARCH 2018 Azerbaijan (continued from page 39) for residents and tourists alike. It spans about 30 metres wide and runs along the water. There are dozens of eateries, merry-go-rounds, floral gardens and giant trees, turning this boardwalk into a beautiful, people–friendly park. The old city, which is the first area in Baku to be designated a World Heritage Site, is home to 3,000 inhabitants. Sur- rounded completely by a wall and dating back to the 12th century, it makes a visit to this historical centre a full day affair. The 30+ temperatures made sun- screen and a hat a necessity, but the area is dry so it was not uncomfortable. I was fortunate to have five days in this beautiful country and visited some of the interesting sites, outside of the capital. One such visit was to the mud volcanoes, an area three hours away. The remote, barren landscape was ominous and eerie looking, but the small volcanoes, constantly gurgling as they erupted their boiling mud, were quite intriguing. There were hundreds of mounds and not one other person in sight. Another interesting visit was to the Fire Temple of Baku, an ancient worship site, which has a courtyard surrounded by cells for monks that lived in the 17th and 18th centuries. It was abandoned in the late 19th century and the natural “eternal flame” went out in 1969, after nearly a century of exploitation of pe- troleum and gas in the area. It is now a tourist site and is fed by a natural gas pipeline. Travelling around the country gave me a great opportunity to visit some century old villages as well as many historic mosques and small outposts. I stopped at the Qobustan Petroglyphs, which date back 12,000 years before Christ. This area of rock paintings is in excellent shape, and truly makes you understand the historic significance of this region. Tourism in Azerbaijan is low, espe- cially since North America has not yet discovered this Persian gem. Most people I saw were Iranian and some Europeans. The upside is that travel is relatively inexpensive. I stayed at the five star Park Inn Hotel in downtown Baku at a cost of just $135 a night (CDN$). Meals were plentiful and af- fordable, and I found everyone to be quite friendly, welcoming and eager to please. Nestled between the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan is a destination worth visiting. One of the many mosques that can be found throughout Azerbaijan. The temple of the fire worshippers. The Mud Volcanoes lie in a barren desert. DO YOU KNOW......... Where is 90% of the world’s fresh water located? Email me your best guess at jon@photosNtravel.com. Answer, next month. Last month’s ‘Do You Know’ was ….... What does the Tokyo firm ‘Ikemeso Danshi’ specialize in? The answer is, they hire out people to make you cry. This supposedly makes people bond and is becoming a very large industry. Jonathan van Bilsen is a photographer, author, columnist, keynote speaker and can be followed at photosNtravel.com In an effort to spruce up the houses, residents paint their doors a variety of colours.