Novruz celebrations on the Boulevard.

Novruz is one of the main (if not the main) festivals in Azerbaijan, literally meaning New Day, it is a celebration of the New Year and the start of spring.,

The kids have been studying Novruz at school and have made Khoncha – which is an ornamental plate filled with sweets, pastries nuts and dried fruit arranged in a decorative pattern – and grown a semini. A semini is a grass grown in the small circle on a plate and then finished off with a ribbon, it forms the centre of the celebratory table, normally finished off with a red or Azerbaijani flag ribbon.

Katrine's semini.

Katrine’s semini.

Today is the day before Novrus begins and we were told there was lots happening down on the Boulevard, there were stalls showing and selling traditional crafts as well as stalls for the different regions and cities around Azerbaijan – we brought some honey from Dashkesan, complete with cone which is very tasty. There were also performances of traditional instruments and singing.

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Baku boulevard at night

It is so hot here (around 35degrees) that the boulevard is practically deserted during the day. That all changes at dusk when it becomes a place to socialise and hang out with family and friends, it really is a whole family outing with toddlers running around right though to aged grandparents being helped along.

There are lots of people scooting around in rollerblades and on bikes, but there is plenty of room so no collisions – at least none that I saw. There is a very friendly, relaxed atmosphere as everyone is there to relax and enjoy themselves.

Frustratingly, as soon as I got back to the hotel room a coordinated fountain, lights, music and pyrotechnic display was on which would have been great to watch, we could only catch glimpses from the room.

Baku recce trip – part 1

We are due to move to Baku in January 2014 so we have come over to Baku for a recce (short for reconnaissance) trip. We lived in Baku from 2003-2006 so it has been very interesting to see how much has changed and what has stayed the same. Lots of new buildings and the infrastructure seems improved but the traffic is as manic as ever.

So far we have looked round the old city, the school and the medical facilities. All looks very good, the fantastic weather certainly helps!

The International School of Azerbaijan, TISA, is an IB school following the primary years program, which is the same as in Korea, so the transition should be smooth and we all like this style of teaching. The year numbering had me confused for a while, Katrine will be going into P7 and Gregor into P5, two numbers higher than their years in England.

The houses are next to the school in Stonepay, or Royal Park – which is the name on the entrance but no-one calls it that. They seem good, spacious 4 bedroom houses, if a bit crammed in. The major problem is that there might be a waiting list up to 9 months, but you won’t know if there is a wait until you actually get into country.

I forgot to take my camera with me, so no photos of the school or houses. But I did get plenty of photos of the old city and on our city tour.