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  • Day10

    Day 10: Tashkent, Uzbekistan

    July 30, 2016 in Uzbekistan

    Yesterday it started great here. When you wrestle through baggage check, which is harder than wrestling Ties Kool ;-), I had to manouvre through taxi drivers and finally accidentaly arrived at a Bus Transferium :). No one spoke the language but this 300 look a like busdriver recognised the Hotel. Great with no Sums (local currency) a gave him 10 dollar. After 2 stops he gave it back and explained with a calculator that it was only 3000 sum = half a dollar. Yeah free ride, I slept great after this. Breakfast was good but with a few people in a to big area. It's representing the whole country I think. It's build wide and open and with big buildings but not high. Only my hotel with 17 floors and twice as tall as all the rest. Walked through Tashkent and had a real nice day, playing my music and found a good cosy coffee restaurant thing. What they say is true, they have a lot off beautifull women here. Only a few match my taste but none could ever seduce me ;-). The language is one thing that's in the way but the characters are also a bit more closed than others. Maybe because of our open mind and curiosity :).Read more

  • Day11

    Day 11: Samarkand, much better.

    July 31, 2016 in Uzbekistan

    It is not easy to do it but with the usual luck I made it to Samarkand one city that was advised by several locals. I woke up at 7 to hurry to the Railway station, I got there at 7:30 and the last trains to Samarkand were leaving at 8:00 and 8:30. I was standing in a random qeue because I couldn't read the signs. The loket closed 2 person before me grrrrr, then the next loket. People pushing and trying to get in front of you, really normal here, not nice. Well I can do that, I had no luggage, but then I had to order tickets, but not in English, so there was this fellow that helped me out and actually needed the same train and the same back. Well there it started, the train of 8:00 was already gone of course. And I sat next to this guy and his family. He asked if I would join his family for the day tour. In this country??? Definetly yes, thrustworthy people, Moslim (no jokes here ;-) ) and a family. This guy was called Borat and he had 2 sisters :) hahaha the fun begins. But also a big cultural lesson ;-). A small example: if you pore in a drink and you have these bubbles in the center, pick them with your finger and put them in your pocket. They may burst but it's meant for good fortune ;-)Read more

  • Day4

    Samarkand- Friday

    April 24, 2016 in Uzbekistan

    After the first session on Friday am the organisers took pity on we useless non- Uzbek speakers and decided the interpretation was inadequate so the cause of international library solidarity would be better served by taking us on a sightseeing tour. Despite our protests they insisted😀 So we unexpectedly went straight to the most iconic of sights- the Registan. Although this was my third visit, the exquisite decoration on the three huge & imposing medressas facing into the square will always make one gasp. Another thing which adds to the delight of it all is the fact that loads of local people go there for a grand day out in splendid traditionally influenced outfits which adds an extra dimension of wonder to it all. Overcome by the whole experience I bought an antique suzane (embroidered throw type of thing) which in hindsight I am not sure I like 😟from a shop in one of the old cells where the medressa students used to live. After lunch of tasty but v greasy plov tempered by the usual wonderful fresh salads, super-sized sweetly crisp radishes & piles of unusual herbs in a local wedding palace turned conference catering venue where we ate
    every meal ( it got a bit tedious) we then went off to the splendid Bibi Khanum mosque - she was Timur (Tamerlaine's) Chinese wife. Legend has it that the architect fell madly in love with her and refused to complete the work unless she let him kiss her & as a result Timur insisted women should be veiled. Probably a load of twaddle though as other people told us veiling was not traditional in Samarkand for most of its history. Next aided by well-seasoned bargainers Farida from NL Kazakhstan & Amina from NL Azerbaijan we raided the bazaar & came away with some fine bargains. We then thought we'd have 2 hours to rest but as was always the way on this trip plans changed & we were whisked back to the very formal conference closure and many many photo opps. So just enough time to dash back & throw on our finery for the bankiet...
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  • Day1

    The Uzbek National traditions

    March 5 in Uzbekistan

    The Uzbek national clothes of the end of XX centuries remain constant up these days. Culture, handicrafts and tourism are rapidly becoming inseparable partners. Applied art of Uzbeks has a wealth of variety when it comes to style, materials and ornamentation. Silk, ceramics and cotton weaving, stone and wood carving, metal engraving, leather stamping, calligraphy and miniature painting are some genres passed down from ancient times. Uzbek craftsmen nowadays still practice ancient jewellery making techniques for cutting gemstones, grain filigree, granular work, and engraving and enameling, also they are trying to take into account fashion demands and styles.Read more

  • Day15


    July 16, 2017 in Uzbekistan

    We leave Khojand City and drive a few hours to the Uzbeckistan border crossing. A short line and the only hassle being the need to roll our luggage approximately 5 football fields in length to cross the border and pick up our new transport on the Uzbeck side. A few hours later and we arrive at the Hotel Uzbeckistan, a Soviet era concrete hotel that faces Tashkent's central square. At 6 we head out for an orientation walk and pass by many monuments starting with the statue to Amir Timur in the park across from our hotel. The city has a collection of 19th century Cszarist buildings from when Russia initially arrived and used Tashkent as an Outpost. We pass by the house of an exhiled Romanov Prince, the statue of the weeping mother, a WW 2 memorial, the statue of Uzbecks's symbol, other monuments, wide boulevards, beautifully landscaped and then we go to an outdoor restaurant that is lively with local families, they even have a projector and start playing an outdoor movie. One of the house specialties is rose shaped potato dumplings with tomato sauce, which turn out to be huge plate filling monsters. The next day is a free day, so I head out with Canela and Chris and we take a taxi to the Russian Orthodox Church. Minor problem as our non English speaking driver takes us to the Catholic Church (who knew there was a Catholic Church) , I show him the picture and we set out again and enjoy a moment of camaraderie when we arrive. We enter the church with a service in progress. The music from the choir is very spiritual, there are a few woman in the main sanctuary, devotedly praying to icons with the service proceeding on the side sanctuary. We sit in the courtyard and listen and are joined but a Russian women who seems fascinated by us. Eventually we leave and play taxi roulette again to head to the Musuem of Applied Arts, set in a 19th century Romanov mansion, the stunning interior has a display of quilts, ceramics and other local artisan creations. A few of the interior room are simply stunning in their tile work. Next we walk the ten minutes to the metro and experience the Musuem quality Cosmonaut Station. The metro is wonderful, clean, beautiful stations, not overcrowded but filled with locals who all offer us their seats. We get off by Choszu Bazaar and check out the Madrrassa that is now used as a learning center. We head back by metro to our hotel and a young women offers to guide us through the train transfer. She is studying English and when I tell her I'm from NY, she says that's her dream - to visit. This is a response I got through out Tashkent when telling people where I'm from. After a rest, we head for a session with students from the elite English school, where they tell us about their program to supplement their English education. The students average age 16 and are all eager to show their progress. We return to the hotel in time to witness the entrance of a wedding, a huge affair that is taking place in the hotel ballroom. Beautiful seeing how stylish everyone looks. Dinner for some of us at Assorte restaurant - choices of Sushi, Korean, European and Uzbeck.Read more

  • Day18


    July 19, 2017 in Uzbekistan

    Arrive mid afternoon and after a refresh head out on our city orientation. We get our first glimpse at the Registon, three glorious tiled Madrrassas that comprise one of the main squares. There is a musical festival going on, so the square is closed now but we look over it and watch the rehearsal with dancing performers filling the square. It's really quite a spectacle with the shear mass of the buildings. We take a short ride to our restaurant, Planken, and are seated outside the restaurant in a 19 th century building. I have pita, toasted with cheese and garlic, lentil soup served with cream and an orange wedge and chicken Kiev, all delicious. Next day, wake up for our city tour. We start at Amir Khan's tomb. An impressive entranceway leads to a courtyard and the fluted dome of the tomb. They're it's a crypt under ground that holds the bodies but there are gravestones on the main floor to view. Amir Khan has a blackish Jade Stone that is the 2nd largest carved Jade block in the world. He is flanked by his grandson, who was his chosen heir but was killed young, and other relatives. The highest and most impressive Stone belongs to Timur's teacher. There is an unmarked Stone somewhat separate from the others that is for the Sufi devoted worshipper who would worship at the gravesite. Next we walk through the bazaar which is bustling. And come out on one side of the Registon, walking along it past the Bibi Mosque and some higher end souvenir shops. We enter the Registon and learn of the Madrrassas, schools for young men that were built in the 14-15 hundreds. We tour each, many of the small individual study Chambers are now artisan shoppes. There are impressive mosques and inner courtyards. Really all stunning. While listening to our guide, a group of local women beckon me over to join them for a picture. Members of our group have all experienced being asked to pose with locals for their photos. We finish the tour and some of us stick back to visit one of the shops and buy silk robes. We eat lunch at a tea House, Uzbeck spaghetti - noodles with a vegetable tapinade. Then we walk to the alley of mausolems, along the old graveyard, up a steep flight of stairs, there is an equisitivley tiled set of individual mausolems to members of the royal court. Individual antechamber are all unique, there is an open octagonal one as well. Beck down, catch a taxi with an animated driver who shouts places at us, Brooklyn, New York, Moscow, Tashkent ..A short rest and we are of to a local house for a Plov demonstration and dinner. Plov is the national dish, it's a layered dish of carrots, garlic, spices, rice and meat. We are seated at a table in the houses inner outdoor courtyard, surrounded by a small herb and vegetable garden. We are served a feast - eggplant fritters, pickled eggplant, carrot salad, fresh greens, soft cheese spread with bread, samosa of meat and zucchini then Plov. Delicious. A quick stop where we started to see Timur's tomb light up at nightRead more

  • Day20

    Traveling to Bukara

    July 21, 2017 in Uzbekistan

    We leave in the morning for a day off travel through the desert towards Bukara. Many hours in the bus, passing through mostly scrub growth on flat lands, interrupted by goats crossing the road. We are traveling in our big bus mostly on 2 lane roads. We pass occasional towns but mostly just vast tracks of land and lots of goats. At around noon we arrive at Nurata and visit the remains of the military Fortress of Alexander the Great & Holy Chashma (Spring) of Nurata. The fortress is an outcropping on a hill that overlooks the spring. The spring has a pool with fish that are thought to be touched by the holy water. About ten years ago, there was an incident of the fish glowing and that has led to pilgrimages to the site. There are local tourists and vendors selling picture pacts where they'll take your pic with the spring. You can also buy springs of vegetation to ties into the pool for the fish. Lunch is at a local house, Ms. Sayde, lovely salads, soup and then dumplings. After lunch we are taken to a room filled with embroidery to shop. Then we drive for another few hours and stop at a desert lake. We change on the bus for a quick swim and the water is refreshing. Then we proceed to Aydar Kŭl Camp, our desert you're camp, located in the Nurata mountain range. The yurts are surrounded by scrub and sand dunes. After an hour to explore , we go for a short camel ride that gives us a sense of the landscape. Decamel in time to watch sunset over the dunes, then dinner - lots of salads, a beef stew served with potatoes, it's about 9:30 pm, the Stars are beginning to light up the sky and we sit around a campfire to hear a soulful singer playing a stringed instrument. We all eventually get up and dance, it really does feel magical. The night sky was like experiencing a planetarium show. Thanks to traveling with science teacher, we could identity all of the constellations, red stars looked red, the milky way was clearly visible. We even saw a satellite moving across the sky. Feeling very blessed to have been there. I wake up early and an doubly blessed to experience the sunrise, watching from the dunes.Read more

  • Day21


    July 22, 2017 in Uzbekistan

    We arrive around 2 pm and check in to the New Moon hotel. We are right near Lyabi-Hauz, a delightful pool of water surrounded by ancient mulberry trees. We are all kind of hot and groggy, and it's quite hot near 100. A few of us head for lunch and we dine at the cafe that borders the pool of water, happy to be inside with ac, an English speaking waiter, and Coke zero. We eat Langan - Uzbeck spaghetti. Hits the spot. I take off by myself and wander into the Jewish quarter to try and find the synagogue. I find a pair of Australians who deliver me, it is inside a Court yard and would have been easy to walk by. An old man interrupts his Domino's game to escort me inside. I remove my shoes and enter the room size congregation. Although he doesn't speak English, he communicates, using a calculator, that the congregation was once 30-40 thousand but it now in 400-500. There are 3 Torah's that are in a locked case that he pulls the curtain back to show me. He shows me pictures of Hillary and Madeline Albright from their visits. Next I wander back to lyabi-hauz. Even in the heat of the afternoon, it is pleasant in the shade. I sit on a bench and watch, mostly local tourists. There is a statue of a wise fool on a horse that all the locals are taking turns taking pictures with. Some even soothing on the horse which is at least 8 get high. Then I am delighted to watch a wedding couple taking pics and then a group of 10 to 15 older woman, all smiles, having their pics taken. Then they retire to a bench and one of them spontaneously starts chanting. Soon a handful start dancing, I join in for a few rounds. Back to the hotel for a refresh.Read more

  • Day23


    July 24, 2017 in Uzbekistan

    We are told it will be a 10 hour drive to Khiva, so we start off in the bus at 8, pit stop for desperate people, rest stop at a tea House, more driving and we arrive around 4:30 in the afternoon.  Our hotel is within the walls of the old city.  A few of us head out for a short hop before our orientation walk, we see the minarets, find the carpet workshop from the book, Carpet Ride to Khiva, then sit down for a refresh at a Tea House and sample the local speciality, dill noodles topped with potatoes and carrots.  Back to the hotel and head out as a group for the orientation walk, down the main East-West street that connects the gates, past the stumpy minaret, by the statue to the father of algebra, past vendors selling funky lambswool  hats, around some of the covered domes.  Dinner is at the same place as we had our snack, so I opt to head out by myself and climb the stairs in the watchtower in the Ark complex to watch the sunset.  Magical feeling as the light makes all the buildings glow. This town is much smaller than Bukara, and the vendors all shut down with the sunset.

    I wake early and take advantage of the cooler morning to capture the sunrise from the terrace of the hotel and then walk through the town as it wakes up.  There is the sound of birds cooing, a handful of street sweepers out, and it is delightful to be able to walk through and experience this as the light is beginning to make all the buildings glow.  Back for a delicious breakfast, fresh made french toast, fry bread, meat pastries, and other treats.  We then head out on our city tour and pick up a guide.  Starting by the West gate, we tour the Madrrassa that is now a hotel, walk to the arc citadel and it's courtyards and mosques.  Through to a different Khan palace complete with harem section, to a fascinating mosque containing 213 interior columns, some over 1000 years old. Through the Musuem of photography, with it's people frozen in time, through the applied art Musuem with it's costumes and silks.  The tour finishes and we do a quick final walk, have a quick refresh at the Tea House, then set off for the 17 hour train ride to Tashkent.
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  • Day21

    Bukara con't

    July 22, 2017 in Uzbekistan

    We head out as a group for our city orientation.  Along Lyabi-Hauz, past the Madrrassas, some ruins being excavated, through the ancient caravarsi, domed markets with a mix of carpet swaths, stork scissors, silk scarves and clothing, random tcotckes,  up to the minaret and the dual facing Madrrassas, domes dotting the sky. We eat at an outdoor terrace restaurant, complete with misters.  As we walk back to the hotel, it's like an outdoor street party, the small motorized cars are out for kids, lots of families are walking around, very festive.

    The next morning we head out for our city tour, starting out on the bus.  We are headed to the Samanid Mausoleum but pull into an amusement park parking lot.  The Mausoleum is through the amusement park in an adjoining park.  Interesting stone work in the design.  Next we drive to an older mosque with the front flanked by a series of columns and colorful woodwork ceiling.  There is a reflecting pool out front that doubles the number of columns.  We learn that the wooden decorative ceiling is designed to look like the books in a library, so babies looking up are surrounded by the idea of knowledge.  From the mosque, we cross the street to enter the Ark Citadel, the original city fortress.  The complex has a series of small Musuems that fill different courtyards, plus open air plazas.  We leave there and head to the Minaret Kalyan complex, learning that the minaret is 40 meters talk, with an unseen 10 meters underground that allowed it to survive for the last 1000 years, through Ghengis Khan and other Invaders.  We stop back at the carpet store and see the girls weaving on the looms in back, sit down at the silk road tea House for a sampler of 3 teas and some sweets.  Back to the hotel to rest before Hamam time. 

    Just before 5 we head to the hamam for our appointments.  The bath house is 600+ years old.  We change into plaid sheet coverings and are led through arched hallways to a circular steam room where we are asked to stand.  We spend about 10-15 minutes there, generating a layer of sweat before we are individually taken by our hamam boys, slender men in the same plaid towel.  We start out seated on the stone slab as different body parts are lifted and scrubbed with a loofah mitten.  Then buckets of cold water are poured over our heads, a mix of exhilarating and feeling like I'm drowning.  Next we are instructed to lie down on the stone slab and receive a massage and stretching of our limbs.  We stand up and are given a ginger rub, front and back and led to another circular room to lie down on heated stone slabs, where the ginger becomes a deep penetrating massage. This is shear bliss, followed by more buckets of cold water.  We are given the option of an additional soft oil massage and a few of us gladly say yes.  Back to individual rooms where we are gently massaged with oil.  Quite an experience.  Glowing, we head of to dinner at another outdoor terrace restaurant where we can watch the sun set.  I have medallions of beef in a cream sauce, one of the best meals so far.  It's Saturday night, and the carnival scene still pervades the area around Lyabi-hauz.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Republic of Uzbekistan, Usbekistan, Uzbekistan, Oesbekistan, Uzbɛkistan, ዩዝበኪስታን, Uzbekistán, ازبكستان, Özbəkistan, Узбекістан, Узбекистан, Uzebekisitani, উজবেকিস্তান, ཨུཛ་བེ་ཀིསྟཱན།, Ouzbekistan, Ӳспекстан, Wsbecistan, ཨུཛ་བེ་ཀིསི་ཏཱན, Uzbekistan nutome, Ουζμπεκιστάν, Uzbekio, ازبکستان, Usbekistaan, Ouzbékistan, Ozbèquistan, Oezbekistan, Úisbéiceastáin, ઉઝ્બેકિસ્તાન, Uzubekistan, אוזבקיסטן, उज़्बेकिस्तान, Üzbegisztán, Ուզբեկիստան, Úsbekistan, ウズベキスタン共和国, უზბეკეთი, Uzibekistani, Өзбекстан, Uzbekistani, អ៊ូហ្សបេគីស្តង់, ಉಜ್ಬೇಕಿಸ್ಥಾನ್, 우즈베키스탄, ئوزبەکستان, Pow Ousbek, Uzbecia, Wuzibekisitaani, Uzibɛkisitá, ອຸດເບກິສະຖານ, Uzbekija, Uzibekisita, Uzbekistāna, Ozbekistan, ഉസ്ബെക്കിസ്ഥാന്‍, उझबेकिस्तान, Użbekistan, ဥဘက်ကစ္စတန်, उज्बेकिस्तान, Ozbequistan, ଉଜବେକିସ୍ଥାନ୍, اوزبکستان, Uzbequistão, Uzubekisitani, उजबेकिस्थान, Uzbekistäan, උස්බෙකිස්ථානය, Uusbakistaan, உஸ்பெகிஸ்தான், ఉజ్బెకిస్తాన్, Ӯзбакистон, ประเทศอุซเบกิสถาน, ʻUsipekitēni, Özbekistan, Үзбәкстан, ئۆزبېكىستان, Ŭzbekiston Respublikasi, U-dơ-bê-ki-xtan (Uzbekistan), Lusbekän, אוזבעקיסטאן, Orílẹ́ède Nṣibẹkisitani, 乌兹别克斯坦, i-Uzbekistan

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