A Travellerspoint blog

Turkey

Off to Istanbul

We shared an early morning taxi with one of our tour group. We flew out of Tashkent for the 5 hour flight back to Istanbul, saying goodbye to him at the Istanbul airport.
Once we obtained some local currency, and enjoyed a nice cappuccino (none of those available in the Uzbek desert), we caught a shuttle into Istanbul. We located our apartment, and wandered through the streets to SultanAhmet, home to Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque.
Later, we found a really fabulous little restaurant where we enjoyed a great meal.

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First view of Hagia Sophia
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First view of the Blue Mosque
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Pat enjoying tea after dinner
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Lovely restaurant in Istanbul

Posted by Jimpat 10:07 Comments (0)

Uzbekistan

Flying back to Tashkent

Up and on the bus by 4 am for a 4 hour bus ride to Nukus, where we caught a flight back to Tashkent.

After dropping off our luggage at our hotel we climbed back on the bus for a city tour of Tashkent. Tashkent is a truly beautiful city, with wide boulevards, and vast green areas. It is very modern. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that a massive earthquake in 1966 destroyed much of the city, leaving 300,000 people homeless. Uzbek is spoken at home, but Russian is still the prominent language in Tashkent, and most people are bilingual.

Our first stop was Hast Imam Square where there is the madrasah of Barak-Khan, Tilla Sheikh Mosque, mausoleum of the Saint Abu Bakr Kaffal Shashi and the Islamic Institute of Imam. Then it was off to Chorsu Bazaar which is one of the oldest and busiest bazaars in Central Asia. It’s hard to believe that over two thousand years ago, Indian spice merchants and Chinese silk-sellers passed through Tashkent’s famous bazaar as they traded along the Silk Road. The location of the bazaar has not changed in all those years but the old buildings have been replaced by modern ones. The circular main market building houses row upon row of meat vendors, while on the second floor gallery vendors sell dried fruits and nuts. Outside we pass through vast fruit and vegetable areas, as well as every other commodity imaginable.

Then it was back to our hotel and free time to explore Tashkent on our own. A group of us decided to check out the Soviet-designed Metro stations. We decided to visit five different stations to view the unique designs. Every station is ornately decorated, some with intricate mosaics, others with chandeliers. The Kosmonavtlar Station had striking ceramic discs depicting Soviet cosmonauts. Every time we boarded a different train people offered us their seats. So nice to see such a respectful society.

In the evening our group took taxis to a lovely restaurant for our farewell dinner. At the restaurant we were seated in a lovely outdoors area where we shared stories about our trip. The meal was fantastic. We really enjoyed the time we had in Tashkent. As our tour is at an end, we said goodbye to Diana, our wonderful Uzbek guide who shared her fabulous country and its history with us.

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Hast Imam Square
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Chorsu Bazaar
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Inside Chorsu Bazaar
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They even sell horse meat!
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Yummy fresh fruits
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Large selection of sweets
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Lots of ??
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Uzbekistan bread
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Turtles for sale
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One of the metro platforms
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One of the metro platforms
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One of the metro platforms
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One of the metro platforms
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One of the metro platforms
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One of the metro platforms
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One of the metro platforms
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Last meal in Tashkent

Posted by Jimpat 10:06 Comments (1)

Uzbekistan

Exploring the old city of Khiva

Today we had a local guide to show us around the old town of Khiva. We entered into Ichon-Qala at the ancient gate, and immediately came on Kalta Minor, the unfinished minaret. This beautiful blue-tiled structure appears rather squat, as it is only 29m of its intended 90m height. We visited Tash Khovli palace, built to house the Khan and his wife’s and concubines.
Finally we visited the Juma Mosque. Originally constructed in the 10th century, the building, with its 212 wooden pillars, reminds us of the layout of the Mezquita in Córdoba, Spain. It is a wonderfully cool spot in this hot desert.
The balance of our afternoon was free time. We wandered through an area of old homes just inside of the old walls. This is not a tourist area, and the mud and straw buildings are a throwback to much more ancient times.
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Entrance at the West gate into Ichon-Qala
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West gate
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Kalta Minor
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Juma Mosque

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The Khan’s bedroom at Tash Khovli Palace

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One of the many ancient building inside Ichon-Qala
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GAdventure group photo

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Us among some beautiful tiles
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Jim relaxing out of the sun
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Jim counting his wad of Uzbeki som
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One of the gates leading out of the old walled town

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Old homes inside the old walled town

Posted by Jimpat 06:49 Comments (0)

Uzbekistan

A very long drive

Up bright and early to start our 7 hours bus ride towards Khiva. As soon as we left Bukhara and headed further into the desert the road became terrible! The road was similar to driving up an old creek bed in a vehicle with no shocks! This lasted for about two hours and it was impossible to sleep or read! The roads in Uzbekistan outside the main cities are very poor and slow going. Ultimately, we got onto a new stretch of divided highway, and this lasted us nearly to Khiva, when the road once again became very poor.
We stopped at restaurant out in the middle of nowhere for lunch. The food was quite good and we enjoyed one of the national dishes called Lagman Soup. Then it was back on the bus for a few more hours before arriving in Khiva.
Khiva is 2,500 years old and is famous for its long and brutal history as a Silk Road slave trading post. Khiva is sandwiched in between the vast Kyzylkum and Karakum deserts.
Our hotel is nearly new, in a complex alongside a brand-new train station. After settling into our hotel room we walk into the perfectly preserved medieval walled town called Ichon-Qala. Inside the wall there are dozens of mosques, madrasas and mausoleums. After viewing the town from a spot high on the city walls, we had a traditional dinner and entertainment from some Uzbek musicians and dancers.

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View from the town wall
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From the town wall
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Town wall in background
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View from town wall of Ichon-Qala

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Mantis a Uzbekistan dumpling
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Evening entertainment

Posted by Jimpat 06:36 Comments (0)

Uzbekistan

A full day to explore Bukhara

We started our morning walking tour of Bukhara at a Samanid mausoleum. This is a monument with detailed brickwork, built from 892—943 CE as the mausoleum for a ruler. It was a wonderful and rare example of pre-Mongol architecture. Using only mud brick, brilliant designs and textures are created.
We continued on to see a mosque built in the 17th century, with a unique gallery of wooden pillars. The building is known as the “40 Pillar Mosque” despite the fact that there are only 20 pillars. This is because the 20 pillars are reflected in a pool in front of the mosque.
We continued on to see the Ark Fortress. Originally constructed in the 5th century, it has been destroyed and re-constructed numerous times.
We then returned to the Kalon Minaret, and the Kalyan Mosque at its foot. This lovely mosque includes a gallery of 208 pillars under 288 domes, and was wonderfully cool under the hot midday sun.
By this time it was becoming seriously hot, so it was a treat to retire to a tea house to enjoy a light lunch. We sampled three different types of teas, including one with saffron and another with ginger and cardamom, as well as a coffee flavoured with cardamom and another with cinnamon. We also enjoyed a wide variety of Uzbek sweets.
The balance of the afternoon was free time. We visited a small building called Chor Minor, which was the gatehouse for a now-destroyed madrassa.
In the evening we had dinner with our group on a rooftop. Later, a number of us enjoyed a drink at the Lyabi-Hauz fountains with all the locals, and even sampled a very unique “ice corn”, popcorn treated with liquid nitrogen!
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Samanid mausoleum
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40 Pillar Mosque
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Ark Fortress
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Ark Fortress Wall
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Locals at Ark Fortress
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Kalyan Mosque
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Kalyan Mosque
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Kalyan Mosque
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Afternoon tea
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Chor Minor

Posted by Jimpat 05:14 Comments (0)

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