Eurovision: Fact Or Fiction - Ten ‘Eurovision In Azerbaijan’ Myths Busted

25 May 2012 | 11:35 am | Eurovision!

Fact or Fiction: 10 ‘Eurovision in Azerbaijan’ Myths Busted

We're two 28-year-old girls having a quarter-life crisis (shut up, 28 is totally quarter-life), who decided to start our one-way trip overseas with a Eurovision 2012 experience in Baku, Azerbaijan. When we told people we were doing this, we were met with (1) blank faces; (2) questions as to where/what is Azerbaijan, and (3) what is Eurovision (and just FYI, we're no longer friends with those people).

So now that we're actually here in Baku, instead of subjecting you to our self-indulgent travel diary, we've decided to do some community service and dispel (or confirm) some myths about Azerbaijan and Eurovision. These are some of the more popular myths that people told us about.


Myth: Large, hairy men bathe regularly in huge vats of oil (and then require volunteers to scrape the oil from their skin with rulers) as per a recent episode of The Amazing Race that took place in Azerbaijan.

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FALSE. The Americans lied to us. Don't believe everything you see on TV, kids.


Myth: Azerbaijan is a strict Muslim country where women wear hijabs and everyone dresses conservatively.

FALSE. Azerbaijan is turning out to be a pretty damned good-looking country. Everyone is a fashion plate. The women are gorgeous and all wear fabulous heels, while the men make all western men look like dirty bogan slobs - they are all immaculately groomed, with highly shined shoes (no home is complete without a shoe-shine kit), perfectly tailored tops, and complete their look with a belt. Versace would be proud (except that he might object to Eurovision being called a 'nest of homos', as described by a local – although in fairness, as this same local told us that the Azerbaijani people are being tolerant of this for the event).


Myth: You can get your Azerbaijani visa on arrival with your Eurovision ticket.

TRUE. Seriously – HOW HARD WAS IT TO TELL US THIS BEFOREHAND, EUROVISION ORGANISERS. Despite official documentation stating that citizens of non-participating countries must apply for visas ahead of time, the customs team at Baku airport laughed at us and told us this had never been true. Would have been nice to know this before we'd spent $500 on an additional trip to Tbilisi, Georgia to try and organise visas from there.


Myth: With accommodation, you get what you pay for.

TRUE. We refused to pay the inflated 300+ Euro/night costs of a hotel in the city, and instead opted for a sub-let in the suburbs. Here, “suburbs” means a soviet-style apartment block where showers are only available for three hours per day. The upside is that we have a karaoke bar called “Mafia Club” downstairs in our building, so we guess that makes up for it.


Myth: Azerbaijan is yet another country where road rules are a mere suggestion.

TRUE. It's a free-for-all out there on the roads, and man do they love their horns. However, on the other hand, the government has brought in 3,000 new “Eurovision London Cabs” for the event, which makes the whole driving experience feel like a video game. Plus it's really impressive how good everyone is at driving with ice cream cones in their hands. Proper ice cream cones are massive here – according to a local, it's been scientifically proven that ice cream improves your mood and makes you happy. Unfortunately, this does not make them beep their horns any less.


Myth: The Baku Crystal Palace (the hall where Eurovision is being held) is an architectural wonder.

TRUE. It's beautiful, and does indeed look like a diamond necklace from the outside. However, we could do without the wind-blown Caspian Sea-flanking 2.5km compulsory walk to the venue, and also without the five intense security checks on the way in. The catering could also be improved – no, we're not acting like spoiled westerners here, we just don't really like the idea of being shepherded into a windowless room inside the venue with about 100 other people to compete for cheese sandwiches and chocolate mousse. (Seriously.) We feel for the poor employee holding the hordes at bay on the other side of that door.


Myth: The voting populace got it right in terms of Eurovision Semi-Final 1.

FALSE. In our opinion, anyway. We feel that San Marino and Montenegro were robbed. It turns out that just because you tick every box for the Eurovision drinking game doesn't mean you'll make it through. Now we will never hear the likes of the San Marino masterpiece Oh Uh Uh Facebook again. This is very upsetting.


Myth: Audience members at Eurovision sometimes outdo the performers onstage in the costume department.

TRUE. Oh, so true. It's amazing how creative people can be with their country's flag (see gallery). To the Australia Day flag-cape-wearing crowd: this is how it's done.


Myth: Eurovision is a love-fest for Europeans.

TRUE. We were blown away by the support all the audience members gave to each and every entry – not just their own country. Everyone in the audience is so lovely and supportive, which made us feel like the old guys from the Muppets, sitting in the back and poking fun. We should take our cues from the Europeans and be better people, but sadly our Australian sarcasm is just too deeply ingrained (although the Swiss girl next to us who rang her cowbell relentlessly and started smoking during the performance deserved all our comments – we did not ask for more cowbell!).


Myth: Baku is a crazy Eastern European/ex-Soviet city that is way behind the times.

FALSE. Well and truly. Sorry, we know this is an educational myth (true) but it's also one that needs to be dispelled. Baku is amazingly modern – it's oil-rich and really very beautiful, and the people here are beyond friendly. (That may be because we're two young Aussie girls who don't have a clue and look lost and helpless, but regardless – we'll take it.) I mean, there's a Trump Tower here – which we think says it all.

Semi-final two is tonight, and the real question will be, can anyone topple the momentum that crowd favourite Cyprus got on Tuesday night? Either way, we're looking forward to the epic pushing and shoving match to get our cheese sandwiches and chocolate mousse. Step off, bitches, they're ours!

Written by Lana Matafonov