I cannot seem to figure out what the deal is with the European Games. The city has pumped apparent millions into them, yet the city is less crowded than ever. Citizens are avoiding the games due to the perceived notion of them being swarmed with foreigners. Foreigners are avoiding the games because of Baku being harder to access than almost anywhere that is actually in Europe. Which on that note, I think it is a bit odd for a non-European country to host the European-Games, plus Israel is competing and they are most defiantly not European. While there are a large number of athletes competing, they appear to be a younger grouping of athletes. I know many nations used the event as a way to help train their upcoming Olympic potentials.
I do not know if the Games are a failure or a success on the political level. On the actual event level they are quite the flop. This past weekend I attended two medaling events – Beach Volleyball, and the Cycling road race. Apart from being poorly attended (I actually counted the crowed at the cycling race to be 32, or about 20 less than the employees running the event), the actual management was very lacking. The Beach Volleyball was outdoors in the hot Azerbaijan heat and after about 1 hour of an all-evening event they ran out of cold drinks & food and began to serve hot beer. The group of British workers I sat with quite displeased, but not mad enough to not drink the hot beer still. Personally, I’ve been having a blast at the events – but it is without question a very poorly run show.
Work has slowed down a bit this past week. Between Ramadan and many employees being out of the office, the frantic pace of getting ready for reports & audits in September has died down a bit. I am continuing my research on various aspects of NGO work in the state and the laws surrounding the international community & private corporations in public involvement.
We have been taking advantage of the long sunny days in Sumqayit, a town just outside of Baku, by frequently visiting the beaches and the local restaurants and teahouses. It is summer After all and summer demands some time on the beach getting tan. However, the experience outside of the city is far different. Things are much more rustic and a bit of a ‘blast from the past.’ But, for a day of hiking through the north Azerbaijan mountains or relaxing on the beach, that is just perfect.
Port Baku was on the list of places to see more of this week. The area is fairly interesting, but there isn't too much I can do there. The shops, bars, and food stops are all far out of my price range. However, it is pretty fun to window shop for Ferraris and Phillip Patek watches. There is a huge chunk of park by some of the ritzy apartment/condo high rises, but it is mostly empty and less developed. However, it does appear as if the city is working to turn that park into the same bustling water front area as the rest of Park Boulevard.