Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Bukhara - Uzbekistan

It was a relatively early start for a basically a day's drive through the desert from Khiva to Bukhara.  We had an early breakfast alongside a large German tour group.  Early on in the trip we were asked by the taxi driver where we come from, and his automatic suggestion was Germany? or Italy?, so a high proportion of non-Central Asian tourists must come from there.

After breakfast it was into the car for the 6 hour drive to Bukhara.  The start, and the end hours, were in green fertile country with cotton being hand-harvested, corn and other green crops.  The roads in these proportions were not great.  Our driver weaved from one side of the road to the other to try avoid potholes.  However, the middle 4 hours was through desert, nothing to see bar the occasional small town, donkey carts, camels.  But the road through that portion was fantastic.

When stopping at fuel stations all passenger had to get out while the driver filled up and you were picked up again after he had finished the fill.  These were gas cylinders refills, and it was obviously a safety measure.

We didn’t stop for lunch, but we had a toilet break where we both used the squat toilets in the ladies, because the men’s wasn't working, according to the old crone who guarded the slightly smelly facility
When we reached Bukhara, our room wasn't ready so we walked to the nearby park where we had a beer and a "lemonade"  only it wasn't lemonade rather a pear drink, which was super sweet and tasted like ice cream soda lemonade we used to have when we were kids.  That, and a couple of small samosas tided us over until dinner. 


We tried Ayvan restaurant, arriving at 6:00pm without a reservation and we took a table on the balcony. We saw throughout the meal a number people turned away without reservations.  It was one of the best meals so far, soups breads and lamb for 145000 som.

The next day after an extensive breakfast ritual it was time to explore.  We walked the 1st 10 minutes in totally the wrong direction. But finally realizing our error, we left the suburban back-streets, literally clambered up a huge dirt pile on a construction site, to emerge directly back into tourist central. 

We finally found the Kolon Mosque and minaret.  I like the detail I read, that the minaret has foundations that are 10 meters deep and there were reeds at the bottom of the tower as an early earthquake mechanism.





Then it was off to the Ark.  While described as a highlight in the Lonely Planet  - it was a major blah!  The outer defensive walls were impressive, but it was not much to see inside, it was hot and there were a million tour groups.  Not much positive comment on this destination from us.

We headed back to the centre to have a cold drink in the same cafe as yesterday, in the park by the pond, before returning to Kurjin hotel  for some quiet time in the cool


In the evening we returned to Ayvan restaurant which we had so enjoyed last night.  It was yet another very nice meal.  Bread ovens, tandoor style, are everywhere.  


Breakfasts throughout our stay in Uzbekistan were all outstanding.  Little plates, nicely presented,  cover the table with delights, so every day we started our walks well-fed!



On our last day we went to the nearby Chor Minor, with it's Indian influences.  There is only a gift shop inside, and the opportunity to climb to the roof (about the level of a 2nd story  so that was not compelling)  so it is all about the exterior.  Pictures taken, and a look about the flea market nearby, we head back to town to have a coffee and cake.


Instead of having a beer by the pond for lunch, we decided to have a seat at the nearby restaurant and a menu variation from the beer and Somsas we had eaten each day so far. When the waiter returned 10 minutes later after taking our order, he said there was no pizza available, so we ended up having Somsa AGAIN.  We might as well have been sitting by the pond next door.  



After some time in the park,  we picked up our bags and had a 15 minute ride to the railway station.  In the waiting room there is no board telling you what platform your train goes from.  Given there are a limited number of trains each day, they really aren't needed, but it is quite hard to hear the tiny voice over the loud speaker telling you where you do need to go.  However the staff are lovely, if you look lost and show them your ticket, they point you in the right direction.

Train and seat located we had a 4 person apartment to ourselves for the 1st half of the trip! 2 older ladies joined us in Navoi and they spoke no English, we no Uzbek or Russian so we all smiled and were quite content






Stayed Khurjin Boutique


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