To Baku by night train
To Baku by night train Reviews
To Baku by night train Sep 16, 2014
On a Monday in September 2014 I went by night train from Tbilisi in Georgia to Baku in Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani train leaves Tbillisi daily at 16:30 h and arrives at 09:20 h in Baku. It has only 1st (2-berth cabin) and 2nd class (4-berth cabin) carriages.
I purchased a 1st class ticket one day before the trip at Tbilisi's train station at window 12. The lady in charge was very friendly, but didn't speak any English. As I speak some basic Russian I was able to communicate with her about the basics. My passport was required to buy the ticket, which cost 115,22 Lari (approx 50 Euro).
On the next day the train could be boarded about 30 minutes before departure. If I remember correctly the first class carriage number 5 had 16 compartments and only about 50 % of the beds were reserved.
The 2-berth compartments were even equipped with a flat screen TV. This could also be switched to an on board camera, which monitored the entrance area near the conductors compartment, the toilet door and the samowar.
The toilet was relatively clean and interesting enough it was not closed during stops at train stations or the border control. There was even some fluffy toilet paper available, although I would still recommend to have some spare paper with you, just in case.
The train didn't have any restaurant car or anything similar, so it makes sense to bring your own food and drinks.
I was lucky enough to have my 2-berth compartment for myself and I was the only tourist in my carriage. There was at least one male Azerbaijani passenger who spoke excellent English and was happy to explain me the border formalities. The two female conductors didn't speak a single word of English, but were quite keen to know where I was from. Still I had the feeling that they didn't even had a clue where Germany actually was located. Later they brought me a black tea and some pickeled plums as a free welcome gesture.
In the early evening one of the conductors distributed a welded plastic bag with the bed linen and a small towel, as well as an Azerbaijani Customs Declaration form, which had to be filled in.
About one hour after we had left Tbilisi the train stopped at the Georgian border control near Gardabani. Here the passports were collected and given back to the passengers with the appropriate stamp about 20 minutes later. Then it was even allowed to leave the carriage until the border process was completed for the whole train. There was a small kiosk, just next to the custom building, so that passengers could buy some drinks or snacks.
Another approximately 30 minutes later the train arrived at the Azerbaijani border control near Boyuk Kesik. Here the border guard took a seat inside one of the empty compartments in the carriage and every passenger was photographed as well as the passports scanned. He didn't speak a single word with me, but after he had stamped my passport he mumbled "Welcome to Azerbaijan".
Then 4 Azerbaijani customs officers entered the train. The customs declaration documents were collected and every passenger was interviewed in their compartment. When it was my turn the slightly older guy didn't really try to verbally communicate with me. I only had to show him my luggage, but didn't have to open it. He was obviously too shy to speak with a foreign tourist.
After this procedure the passengers were allowed to leave the train for smoking or other things. Also the Georgian locomotive was exchanged for an Azerbaijani locomotive.
The whole procedure took about 45 minutes and we then continued our trip towards Baku. I still remember one other major stop in Ganca, where again people could leave the carriage for a couple of minutes. I then slept more than 6 hours, so that I was well-rested on arrival in Baku, where the train didn't have any delays.
Baku's train station is located about 2,5 km north east of the old town (Icheri Sheher). The metro station "28 May" is just in front of the train terminal.
Part of the Baku (Azerbaijan, 09.2014) travel blog
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