Traveller's Tales - the Sport of Travel

May 14, 2019 - 9:41am

We all whisper about the way life is now. Everyone is so consumed by their phones, by their televisions and by social media. People let their lives slip away by sitting behind a screen. I want to know, why simply surf Instagram for pictures of the Eiffel Tower when you can actually go there. Why listen to the hum of a Formula 1 engine on the TV, when instead you could be amongst the crowd, feeling the energy of thousands of fans ready to experience the race. This month we will look at two of the more exotic Formula 1 locations and how you can turn a race weekend into the trip of a lifetime.

 

Baku City, Azerbaijan

Located on the coast of the Caspian Sea, this Formula 1 city is famous for the medieval wall surrounding it. Besides the fact that Azerbaijan is one of the coolest places to watch a Formula 1 race, the mix of modern and ancient architecture also makes it a perfect holiday spot.

We start with a look at the modern. Construction for Baku’s Flame Towers started in 2007 and was completed in 2012, costing an estimated $350 million US dollars to build. The trio of buildings, each completely covered with LED screens that can be seen from the farthest points of the city, now holds the title of tallest buildings in the country. The towers themselves, with their unique shape and structure, are a nod to Zoroaster, an ancient Iranian prophet.

2012 was a big year for Baku, with the completion of the Heydar Aliyev Centre taking place also. The building’s fluid architecture, mimicking waves to create a softer side to the city’s former Soviet design, is one that can’t be missed. The building itself is worth a visit just to admire the fascinating architectural design, but spare a few moments to check out the interior, where you’ll find a museum, conference hall and gallery.

In the heart of Baku is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old City. Two must-see sites in the walled city include the Palace of the Shirvanshahs and Maiden Tower, both locations becoming the first in Azerbaijan to be classified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The Palace of the Shirvanshahs dates back to the 15th century and is home to burial-vaults, remnants of a bathhouse, Seyid Tahya Bakuvi’s mausoleum and an ancient mosque. The Maiden Tower, a 12th-century monument, houses a museum dedicated to presenting Baku City’s evolution.   

Baku offers the best of every world. Petrol heads get their Formula 1 fill, history buffs can soak up a rich cultural past and the fans of modern architecture are spoiled with design.

 

Bahrain

Bahrain is a small island country found in the Persian Gulf, neighbouring Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Quite a bit smaller than Azerbaijan, we will take a look at a few of the different things you can do across the entire country once you’ve revved up your excitement from the Grand Prix Qualifier.

 The area of Qal’at al-Bahrain, otherwise known as the Bahrain Fort, is home to an archaeological site with a history dating back to 2300 BCE. The fort itself dates back to the 6th century CE. Amazingly, only about 25% of the area has been excavated, revealing residential, public, commercial, religious and military structures as well as a plethora of different artifacts that can be seen at the Qal’at al-Bahrain museum.

With a step away from the old and into the new, it’s time to admire the Amwaj Islands. The Persian Gulf is no stranger to man-made islands; with the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain all home to their own creation of landscape. The Amwaj Islands, located on the Northeast end of the country are Bahrain’s version of these impressive man-made islands. The blue and green hues of the Persian Gulf accent the infrastructure that makes up the floating islands. Schools, hospitals, restaurants, hotels, homes and even theme parks can be found here.

After the Amwaj Islands, hop over to the other side of Bahrain to check out the King Fahd Causeway, a series of bridges and causeways which opened 32 years ago to connect Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Either take a drive across the 25km bridge and tick another country off your list or simply admire the impressive architecture of this 800 million dollar project. 

These two countries offer such a contrasting experience between sport, history and architecture. To travel just for one would be rewarding enough, but to travel for all three might just inspire the rest of the “social media” world following your adventures to get out from behind their screens and experience it for themselves.