MEET THE WRITER
Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey is a freelance travel writer, guidebook author, and a travel-holic based out of Paris. If she's not busy packing or unpacking her suitcase, then she's probably away.
When was the last time you were in Baku?
I went in January 2019, solely to see architect Zaha Hadid’s building, the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre, but ended up surprised at how the eclectic mix of cultures, architecture, and history pulled me in.
What was the most surprising thing about Baku that you didn't expect?
Expecting a city break, before I knew it I found myself poking my fingers into mud volcanoes, gawping at millennia-old rock carvings and seeing Earth quite literally (and naturally) on fire. Some rock carvings date back to 40,000 years. They just blew my mind.
Number one can’t-miss recommendation for a visitor?
Just next to the Zaha Hadid building is a traditional restaurant, Kebapçi, which serves simply the juiciest shish taouk: grilled chicken pieces on a skewer with enormous, warm loaves bread. I went there two days in a row.
How easy is it to get around the city for English speakers?
Taxis are cheap and locals friendly. Language can be a barrier, but everybody is happy to try some words of English and otherwise use hands and feet to communicate. I always had a print-out of the place I stayed on me, just in case.
What’s your top tip for someone going for the first time?
Hire a driver/guide for a day to take you out of the city limits. It is cheap -- less than a $100 for an entire day -- and so much more personal than going as part of a big group. Your hotel reception can arrange it for you.
Next big trip you have planned in 2020?
I am hoping to go and explore Saudi Arabia, another destination to watch.
Ultimate bucket list destination you've always wanted to visit?
Bhutan and Antarctica. I am getting quite desperate to go.