We arrived in Bukhara from the Turkmen border by taxi, though we left town through the rather swish train station later in the week.
The hotel we’d originally hoped to stay in in Bukhara was fully booked the day we arrived, but the manager kindly helped us round the corner to our second choice. Having stayed at Akbar House now, I would strongly recommend this place to anyone visiting Bukhara. You’ll basically be staying in Akbar’s home and living among his extraordinary art collection.
This was the view from our room
This was on the walls of our room
And this was in the marvellous dining room where we had breakfast each morning.
Within five minutes of our unannounced arrival this tray was presented to us – a real ‘welcome to Uzbekistan’ after the relative trials of Turkmenistan and Iran
And on our first evening there was a bit of a party, with a group of Israeli tourists invited along for dinner under the moonlight – we were invited to join, and this was the dinner on the open oven
There was music, too – this Zaraoastrian band played and the Israelis let their hair down, along with Akbar’s wife. A great intro to our time in Uzbekistan.
We loved Bukhara not only for its architecture (see our last post) but also some of the lovely touches around town. These camels looked great by the pool, which had been dug in 1620 and probably fed thirsty camels for centuries when this was a stop-off point on the old Silk Road.
I rather liked the Wise Fool sculpture. Erected in 1979, when this was part of the USSR.
Great markets with wonderfully-presented goods. Nuts…
And Non-Bread (took me a while in this market that seemed to have lots of bread stalls, to realise that non is actually like the Indian bread ‘nan’, rather than a section that did not sell bread at all…)
The Sharq Express was our first bit of travel luxury for weeks as it sped from Bukhara to Samarkand.
Sadly was not quite so comfortable for the onward section Samarkand to Tashkent later in the week, but at least we saw how good it CAN be
We rather liked the gentlemen’s Friday Best outfits, especially with the skull cap, which all guys seemed to be wearing
And we took a trip from Samarkand up to Urgut for their famous Sunday market.
Actually that bus ride – 45kms that took 90 minutes and was unbelievably bone rattling – has put me off local bus journeys in this part of the world for life. A dreadful experience, especially if you’re 6’2″…But Urgut market was probably worth a visit (especially as we weren’t at that stage sure we’d make the Osh Sunday market a week later)
In Tashkent we had the great pleasure of meeting Serj and Zoya, who had contacted us by Twitter after our announcement of impending arrival in their town to sample the coffee (more on that in the blog to come). Great to meet some locals, a lovely couple and hopefully a new friendship forged for future contact too. Thanks to both of them for showing us great places in Tashkent…
Anita will write in more depth on our wonderful visit to Margilon’s silk factory, but here to give you a flavour of its delights is the lady who starts the whole process going by separating out the silk strands from the cocoons via this bubbling vat of boiling water – utterly fascinating place.
And on to our final night in Uzbekistan – in Andijon – which had a bad reputation for tension (in years gone by) but we found extremely friendly (even the plain clothes policeman who checked us in the bus station was extremely cordial and helpful). A quick mention also for Moazzem, the delightful waitress who pounced on us in her café and wanted to talk to us at great length about her dreams of one day becoming an interpreter. Good luck to her in following her dreams!
We really enjoyed Uzbekistan; another country we knew little about before arriving and another we’d like to study more once we’re settled in our new home. Thanks to everyone we met there for tremnedously warm welcomes.