From lovely Baku we started our journey towards Georgia. Lahic >Wiki< was the first stop we made. It’s a little mountain village, where tourists go to see traditional copper artisans. It’s surrounded by beautiful mountain scenerey, making it perfect for hiking and riding. In theory. Unfortunately, the brilliant weather we had when we arrived there didn’t last.
We got caught in the worst thunderstorm with hail in the evening of our first day. That kind of made us chicken-hearted, so the next day, which started out fine, we stayed close to the village to find shelter in case we needed it. So we missed hiking around the countryside. It’s still a beautiful place to spend a few days, when you’re looking for a quiet getaway from the busy city.
How to get there from Baku
First challenge was finding the scaringly chaotic main bus station. Luckily, the new metro line is working now, it’s the last stop on the violet line, called „Aftovagsal“. We got out of the station, crossed a busy road that had neither traffic lights nor pedestrian crossings – miraculously without getting hit by a car. We got rid of taxi drivers who wanted to bring us to Tbilisi and god knows where and just followed a bunch of people passed a bar and up a ramp. Not shure if this was the right way to enter the site. Probably not, but we got to the place where all the busses and minivans waited. Before we even had time to get confused, we found ourselves sitting in a small minibus, a marshrutka, scheduled for Şəki and going through İsmayıllı. This is where we were heading, because we had to change busses there.
Marshrutky-drivers will approach you and ask where you go and get you to the right marshrutka. I guess we ended up paying a bit more than we would have on the scheduled bus, and travelled probably a bit more uncomfortable. But we had just missed our bus by a couple of minutes, so we didn’t mind. And by paying more I mean eigth instead of four Manat (that’s four instead of two Euros per Person), which seemed more than fair.
We left Baku Aftovagsal at 9:30 am and after a scary drive (bad roads, fast, crazy overtaking – but nothing compared to Georgia as we would soon find out – arrived in İsmayıllı around noon. We felt lucky we had made it this far and also quite hungry. Neither maps.me nor Google gave us any restaurant within walking distance (under one kilometer, considering we had big backpacks and wanted to be back to catch the marshrutka at 2 pm to Lahic).
Lunch in İsmayıllı
A taxi driver came up to us and asked where we where going. We managed to somehow tell him we wanted to eat, so he signed us a direction where we would find a good place. I just understood right, and something with cars, I admit. But we went our way and actually found the place, no sign on it, next to a car repair.
The owner saw us looking somewhat lost and waived us into his restaurant. We had a seat in the shaded, leafy garden, and ordered lamb ribs. There were apparently two dishes to choose from: either ribs or intestines, so we figured from his gesturing. So ribs it was. Very delicious ribs. We also got bread, the obligatory tomato and cucumber salad and a nice, hearty soup as a starter. All together (just had mineral water to drink) we paid only 16 manats (8 Euros) for the both of us. After taking some pictures of the place and with the owner (he insisted, he was very excited, probably not many foreigner find his little place) we went back to the bus station.
If you end up in İsmayıllı looking for a good place to grab some nice food: Ask for the restaurant „Vaz“. Or just walk up the road that leads to Sheki, pass the gas station at the junction, and after the road has turned left you will see it on your right hand site. Or maybe not, it’s a bit hidden behind trees. We’ve also pointed it out on maps.me, so maybe you will find it there now. Anyway, this is what it looks like:
The marshrutka from İsmayıllı to Lahic left at 2 pm. There is another one at 4, but when you arrive after that, you’ll have to take a taxi. The bus was nearly empty. We drove through beautiful mountain scenery and paid 3 manats for the both of us, when we arrived in Lahic.
Where to stay
There are a number of homestays and guesthouses, that you can also find on most booking sites online. But take our advice and book directly, you can save a bit of money by doing so. Best bet would probably be Dadash, who also runs the local tourist information. His place is called “Ancient Lahic Guesthouse” on Booking. He speaks English perfectly and can either accomodate you in his own house, where we stayed, or arrange a different homestay for you. Dadash is also a very interesting conversational partner: He knows a lot about history and traditions, he has actually a Phd in philosophy and has written some scientific articles about some ethnic minorities in the region.
If you want so get to know authentic life in a small village, Dadash’s homestay is also perfect for you. Great breakfast and evening meals prepared by his wife (who only speaks Russian). For only 30 Manat per night (dinner is an extra 8 manat per meal). Great deal!
What to do
Hiking and horseback riding are the number one activities here. As I’ve said earlier, the dangerous sounding thunder we constantly heard on our second day kept us from going on a longer day- or half-day-hike, of which there are a few around. Turned out we could have easily gone, since it only started raining in the late afternoon. Well, spending a few hours around the village is also a nice way to spend the day. Browse the little shops on main street, they may look touristy but are quite cute. Maybe buy some copper plate or pot. It’s definitely worth spending a night or two in Lahic, to experience the quiet atmosphere when the day-tourists have left.