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Gears We Never Use

"Life is like a ten-speed bicycle,
we all have gears we never use"

— Charles M. Schulz


In February 2015 Gary Taylor, from Ipswich, set off to cycle around the world for charity. Keep up to date via this website and through the channels below!

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Azeri Visa Process

Country: Georgia

Here's how I got my Azeri visa in Georgia, for anyone who's interested. I started the process on Friday 22nd May 2015 so the information is correct as of then. I am a citizen of the United Kingdom with a standard United Kingdom (EU member) passport.

You will need:

1 x Application form (Available at Batumi and Tbilisi)
2 x Passport-sized photos (Quality requirement is dubious)
1 x Hotel reservation (Possibly for entire duration of stay, but don't panic)
1 x Photocopy of passport
1 x Passport (with at least 6 months validity and no evidence of visiting Nagorna-Karabakh)
1 x Form of ID for bank staff (Possibly unneccessary. I used a copy of my passport)
118 x USD (At time of writing)
The ability to walk for well over an hour OR the inclination to pay for a taxi.

Ride into Batumi, decide on preferred entry date to the Republic of Azerbaijan, prepare copy of passport, 2 x passport sized photographs and hotel booking through (For which you have no intention of paying).

Locate consulate and submit to half-arsed security check. Speak with friendly and polite consular worker with good English regarding the intention to visit their beautiful nation.

Get told that you must go to the Embassy in Tbilisi as he has no stamps left. Ask him to check all your paperwork is in order and request the application form to hopefully expedite the visit to his counterpart in the capital.

Cycle to Tbilisi. (LINK)

Fill in application form in best handwriting – get creative with employment status if necessary. Book another hotel in Azerbaijan for the entire duration of stay. Feel slight relief that original plan had been rejected, as dates would have been more restrictive.

Check Embassy times and realise you have to hurry as it is open to SUBMIT applications from 1000 – 1200 and to COLLECT visas from 1600 - 1730

Walk for 25 minutes from your hostel to the Embassy. Speak with burly but friendly security guard. Take his directions to a tour office in the alleyway opposite to obtain passport photographs through fear that homemade ones might not be of suitable quality.

Approach man inside re. photos and explain that you don't need to present your passport or have your application checked over as you should be capable of handling it yourself and you don’t want to give him any money.

Realise the camera he intends to use for the photographs is of significantly lower quality than the one your mate used back at home. Show the tour man your existing photos and realise he really didn't want to have to take and print his own anyway.

Wait while he cuts out the passport photos and Pritt-Sticks them to the application. Wonder how much money he will try to extract from you for the “service”.

Suppress expression of pleasant surprise at lack of attempts to obtain money for his glue-stick skills. Leave tour office.

Suppress expression of lack of surprise when he tells you a driver will be waiting to take you to the bank to process the visa fee.

Enter embassy and submit yourself to half-arsed metal detector check.

Hand over all forms, photos and unpaid hotel reservations to friendly and polite consular worker with good English. Smile and kiss his arse a bit in the vain hope of speeding the process up..

Receive slip for the Bank of Azerbaijan to pay for visa (118 USD), get told to bring it back by 1230 as that's when they close for lunch, not 1200 as previously thought.

Suppress expression of frustration at the realisation that the bank is right next to the hostel where you started the day.

Leave the consulate and politely refuse the tour/taxi man's offer of a presumably expensive lift.

Walk 25 minutes to the National Bank of Azerbaijan. Enter the bank and present the slips and copy of your passport to the beautiful and friendly bank employee (Results may vary).

Observe aforementioned gifted beauty simultaneously copy the information from your ID, stamp all the slips (excessively, in my opinion), convert USD to Lari, explain that it has to be paid in cash and point you to the ATM.

Sign all FIVE slips to confirm that you understand the forms you never bothered to read.

Exit bank and withdraw required funds in Lari.

Re-enter bank, get excessively stamped forms back and approach the cash desk. Give money and forms to a slightly less beautiful and much less polite cashier (Again, results may vary). Get three slips back and some change.

Walk 25 minutes to Embassy (Don't worry, it's not an unpleasant route). Panic slightly at the absence of security guard at the entrance and the possibility that they did close at 1200 after all. Breathe sigh of relief when you realise he is simply skiving off inside the tour guide / taxi driver's car smoking a fag.

Enter embassy and submit to third half-arsed metal detector security check. Proudly present receipt slips from the National Bank of Azerbaijan to friendly and polite consular worker. Receive one back as proof and ask if you can have your passport back too. Get refused with slightly sinister smile and head shake. (I have since heard from people who DID hang on to their passport. Push for it if you need it for other visa applications).

Ask when you can collect your visa. Receive ambiguous response of “next week”.

Walk 25 minutes back to the hostel. Cancel hotel reservations.

Spend 4 days worrying that you cancelled the hotel reservation too early and that the Azeri embassy will check with the hotel.

Walk 25 minutes to the Azeri Embassy. Wait in queue. Submit to full-arsed metal detector security check (Different guard)

Collect visa and realise nobody in the Azeri embassy gave two squirts of piss about your hotel reservation.

Go to Azerbaijan.