Lankaran is quiet town on the Caspian. A centre of the local green-tea industry, it was once famed for its fishing, its native “Iron-wood” [a species of bog-oak that sinks in water] and for the former prison that once held captive Joseph Stalin, when he was causing trouble amongst the oil workers of Baku in 1905.
The prison is currently undergoing restoration into a Stalin-themed cafe. Oh yes and before I get into the post proper, just outside the town you can find a mini-resort dedicated to the dreaded Teapot Cult. By the way, the symbol of the town is the image of a woman holding a sword in one hand and a teacup in the other. What further evidence do you require?
We spent a happy hour or two wandering about the tree-lined streets, walking through the bustling fruit and vegetable market, full of pomegranates, apples, pears and lemons that are the local specialities at this time of the year.
Women in colourful dresses and headscarves invited us to try their wares as we wove our way between the stalls.
Then we headed for the historical museum based in the home of the former Khan of Lankaran. A dapper man of liberal view whos mansion was nonetheless confiscated by the Soviets in 1920.
It was full of the usual collection of crumbling stuffed animals, medieval pottery and examples of the local weaving style. We were steered away from two rooms full of Soviet era exhibits but we still got a good look at the pictures of sturdy looking women and examples of identity cards from the time of the Great Patriotic War.
We stayed at the grand but utterly deserted Qala Hotel in the middle of town. A modern post-soviet hotel with about 30 rooms with good bathrooms and comfortable beds but the restaurant remained closed apart from breakfast [bread and butter] and the bar which remained open, having copious amounts of gin but no tonic.
To be honest, we were taken by the place. It was friendly, welcoming and quirky. Oh yes, here is an example of local wedding “style”…