Sun, Oct 27, 2013
A full day to spend in the capital of Tashkent, but only after we unpack the bags at 9:00 (it was raining last night after our long drive to the city so they decided to keep our big bags on the truck until this morning). The breakfast at the Roshvan hotel was good – it seems the Uzbek breakfasts are similar (dried fruits, cheese, sausage, tomatoes and cucumbers).
Barb, Anna, Chris and I set off on a walking tour of Tashkent. We first wanted to have a better look at the Russian Orthodox cathedral that several of them had seen on the drive into town. Unfortunately, we took a wrong turn that set us off on a 20-minute walk in the wrong direction. Thanks to my trusty Eddie Bauer compass that I bought before the trip we found the correct way.
Next, we got on the Metro subway system. The subway system of Tashkent is one of its most famous tourist sites. Each station has its own theme and decor – lots of different art deco light fixtures. One of the stations we passed thru had murals of astronauts. The police will not let you take pictures of the stations – much like the rule to not take pictures of bridges and dams in this country.
We got out of the subway at the Chorsu market. This is one of the largest markets in the country and the goods were abundant at this time of year. Lots of root vegetables and fruit. There seemed to be an aisle for everything – baskets, fabrics, candies, cakes, toys, etc.
It was a little early for lunch so we decided to come back to the market after a walk to some mosques on the north side of the city. The architecture here was amazing. I was standing in a large plaza with brick buildings with blue domes and high minarets surrounding me. This is my first taste of this architecture – the mosques will be older and more beautiful in the more historical cities we will see in the next week. One of the squares here had souvenir shops. There were lots of beautiful things – specifically wooden and ceramic items. I bought a refrigerator magnet – one for each country I visit so this is my 5th magnet of the trip.
We walked back to the Chorsu market and had a late lunch in the prepared food market there. We had a small bowl of Plov – the most famous local dish. Plov is a combo of rice, vegetables, and meat and is the Russian word for what we typically call “Pilaf”. It was just OK – a bland dish. We also had some cakes sold by some ladies at the market.
At this point, Anna and Chris wanted to catch the Metro subway and Barb and I wanted to continue to walk so the two of us walked down the wide Navoi Avenue. This street has all the fancy shops but they were all closed on this Sunday. We stopped by a couple theaters – opera and drama hoping there was a show on today but we had no luck. We also walked thru several parks – walking along the river, seeing several statues, and the Uzbek Senate building.
Our legs were tired by now so we took the subway back to the closest stop to our hotel. It was still early and there was a movie theater nearby so I checked out what was playing. A Sylvester Stallone/Arnold S. movie was playing in a few minutes but I found out it was dubbed in Russian so I decided against seeing a movie. On the way back to the hotel I ran into Mindy and Sam and they invited me to dinner. We went to a Korean restaurant and I had the sushi that has spam and egg instead of raw fish. There are quite a few Koreans living in Uzbekistan and a number were eating at this restaurant tonight so it must be good!
My general impression of Uzbekistan is that it’s much less third world than Kyrgyzstan. The roads are quite good here and sidewalks are level (less worry about tripping or falling down a manhole like the poor sidewalks in other developing countries). There is much less litter here. It is also considerably more expensive than Kyrgyzstan – about 50% to 100% more expensive. It has also gotten much colder. I have a feeling that the last 5 weeks of this trip will be much colder – hat and glove weather. I’ve been planning on throwing out a pair of shorts that are too big and heavy to carry around and this finally might be the time to do it.