Thursday, October 24, 2019

Samarkand - Uzbekistan

On arriving at Samarkand station we had pre-arranged a taxi from the BnB and soon we were wending our way through traffic and buses and big city paraphernalia.  No idea where we were, or going, but it didn't matter.

Our host at Antica BnB was a bit run off her feet with three sets of guests arriving off the same train.  Bags deposited, we decided to go out for a walk to find something for dinner.  

For the 1st time in a long time we had not checked out what restaurants were near us.  So after walking about for a bit, we found there were not a lot of options nearby so we chose "Labi Gor". Near to the Registan, it looked ok and there were a number of people seated...but it turned out to be the worst meal in a very, very long time.  The staff appeared friendly, but basically couldn't care less.  The food (after 2 of our 1st choices were not available) was basically a whole chicken each, partially warmed through.  We picked at it a bit, finished our (not very tasty) beers and paid more than the meal was worth.  On looking on and google later, there was review after review of low star reviews, with words like "avoid" and "tourist trap".  Lesson learned, moving on.

The next morning the Registan was the 1st destination of the day.  40,000 som to enter  and it was without question a stunning complex.  

The highlight was the smaller mosque, with its breathtaking ceilings.    

We went over to the Siyob market where we bought some candied peanuts and wandered around the covered market and the fruit and veg offerings.

Then it was on to Bibi Khanym mosque.  This was also impressive and decorated slightly differently from other Mosques and Madrassas we have visited.  We sat for a while off the main square and watched people move about.  This included some local school kids who started climbing the side of the building.  They had one eye on the climb, and the other watching the guard near the ticket office, hoping he didn't see them.

Lunch was in a restaurant on the edge of the market, a few tourists and a lot of locals we were lucky to get a seat.  Good soup and somsa (again).  Andrew experienced drinking beer out of bowl - Uzbek glass said our waitress :-)

We walked through the park to the "Street of Mausoleums".  We liked the sign outside that requested people didn't leave money on the alters or sacrifice animals there among other edicts.  We saw plenty of instances of money on tombs, but luckily there were no sacrifices the day we visited.  We returned through the cemetery  where the recent  headstones all had sandblasted (or a similar technique) photo realistic images of the people on them. 

The cemetery finished at the tomb of former President,  Islam Nabokov, who died in 2016.  It was a MAJOR pilgrimage site for locals, with people seated around the tomb and praying.

Dinner was in the BnB. The plates of food just kept coming, starters, salads, mains, fruits.... It was a good option to have good local food,  and not to have to walk miles 

The next day we visited Gul Amir mausoleum located next to the BnB.  Timur and his grandson Ulgubek (gave his name to algebra) are buried here.  

We walked through the neighbourhood streets.  The local kids wanted to talkand we were mobbed by a group of under 7s wanting to try out their English.

We walked up the Winery building, but it didn't open until 18:00.  The we had selected a burger bar for lunch, but when we got there it wasn't open either, nor was the recommended coffee shop nearby.  We saw a couple of locals go into a restaurant, so we followed them in.  We managed to get fried chicken and chips (breakout from local fare for one.meal) and 2 beers with some good pointing at pictures and other people's plates

Dinner at the BnB, dolma yum!  Not so yum was the local wine.

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