Our issue in Azerbaijan was the visa issued to us by the Azerbaijani Embassy in The Hague. We had 5 days to enter and exit the country all while knowing that the ferry can take up to 10 days to ship out to Kazakhstan. It seemed like a ploy to get more money out of us. There is no information regarding the ferry's departure until it arrives into the Baku port. There they decide where it will go, Turkmenistan or Kazakhstan. The only way to get this info is to call every morning at 10am.
|The ferry ticket office - baku port|
After a few days of hearing "Niyet", we finally heard a "Dah". Aika from the Caspian Hostel translated for us telling us to get down there to buy tickets.
|our all-day taxi ride cost us 70 euro|
Ah, we were relieved. Now, we needed to go to immigration as we were on day 6 of our 3 day (plus 48 hours so 5 days total) visa. We would need to pay a fine of 300 manat (300 Euro) per person for overstaying the visa – very annoying. The ferry ticket plus motorcycle cost us 170 manat. On to the port to set sail…
|taking money to pay the 300 euro fine|
At first, customs says that there is not ship sailing to Aktau. Ok, we thought, this is strange. Then he asked for our paperwork. After giving him everything, he then said that even if there were a vessel, we could not sail until tomorrow. We had to pay a fine of 21 manat (21 euros) for the motorcycle overstaying the visa. An immigration officer arrived, as he spoke a little English and confirmed that there was a vessel leaving, however, he could not help us. We begged and pleaded for 2 hours and nothing could be accomplished. All we kept hearing was “immigration, no problem, come back tomorrow for ship”. Yeah, the ships do not run that frequently.
|the reason we could not travel the first time around|
|back at the Caspian Hostel|
We decided to skip immigration, pay the custom's fine and return back to the hostel, pack our goods and head out. We prepared everything pretty quickly and were out within an hour. Back at the port, we cleared the custom’s portion in under an hour.
|Baku Port - 2nd try: we can see and smell the ferry|
The visit this time around to immigration was not that friendly. After discussions that we were going to be removed from Azerbaijan back to our home countries (HJ to Netherlands and Scott to USA - not Kazakhstan), another lady came down to ask us why we did not leave. We explained our situation about customs, the transit visa, and the ferry to Aktau. We told her that we are trying to leave every day and that today, the ferry is running and waiting for us to get back to the port to sail. She lobbied for us to her chief and received the kind word that he would let us go. The paper was issued in under 15 minutes and we were heading back to the port.
We were holding our breath if the vessel was still there. Sure enough, it was. We quickly cleared immigration, jumped on the bikes and headed to the vessel, not looking back.