Thursday 25 September 2014
Now I know why the flight back was so relatively cheap.
My routing took me back via Baku airport, in Azerbaijan. However, Baku airport has two terminals, in effect one for flights to/from the ex-USSR, and the other for all other international flights. The trouble comes in that there is no easy way to transfer between the two. Coming out of the plane, the routing took us all pretty much straight to passport control/immigration. And obviously I didn’t have an Azeri visa …
I think having random Westerners looking lost happens on an infrequent but regular basis, as within 5 seconds of looking around confused, a member of staff was onto me; his first question was ‘London?’; either that, or he knew I was coming. For the rest of the transit, I was known to him as ‘London’. After quickly wandering around arranging things in the background, he ushered me through a locked door and into the bowels of the small terminal – felt very furtive and secretive. I ended up being transferred to the newer, larger terminal in my very own shuttlebus.
Leaving Uzbekistan wasn’t anywhere near the complicated procedure that arriving had been. I had to fill in one copy of the custom declaration form, but that was basically just copied from the one I did on arrival, with less money declared. They didn’t bother to check up any of the details on it (presumably because I was leaving with less ‘hard; currency than I’d arrived with, they didn’t see me as a fraudster). They didn’t even check my accommodation slips in the end.
Tashkent airport is relatively small; or at least there doesn’t feel like there’s much to do/buy either side of passport control. Airside, the terminal consisted of one long wide corridor with about four shops/cafes in. Some of the shops were closed; my flight was around lunchtime and the departures board only showed about another four flights all day; this is yet another airport that comes to life during the night-time.
Aside from that, the journey was easy and simple – although not much different from normal airline food in content, the meal on the Uzbekistan Airways flight to Baku was probably the best tasting I’d had for a long time, though I couldn’t honestly tell you how/why; the AZAL flight out of Baku proved less impressive.
Felt weird coming back home. My coach arrived back in Nottingham around 2am, going past lots of drunk students celebrating Freshers Week. Feeling old – in my day you wouldn’t have been allowed into a nightclub in jeans/trainers, but now that seems to be the standard club wear. Bah.