I’ve had my fair share of train travel. I mean, I did 10 overnight trains in India. Even the Indians were unite impressed with this feat! So when we decided to leave Astana by train to go to Almaty. Kazakh trains are a bit claustrophobic.
We thought we had booked a private room. Instead we had to share a room with two other ladies. When we left Astana, the ladies had already requested to have the beds down. After a quick bite, we were in bed by 20:00. And surprisingly, I slept for 10 hours!
We arrived in Almaty-2 train station and we’re immediately harassed by taxi drivers.
We made it to the hostel after some grumblings by me claiming I will get rid of my travel backpack because “I’m getting too old for this sh*t.” We’ll see if I actually do it.
We spent the morning figuring out our next move. Since we have to wait for Robb’s LOI to Uzbekistan, we are pretty much stuck in Kazakhstan for two more weeks. Joy!
I decided to hedge my bets and apply for my Uzbekistan visa without this magical (and very expensive) LOI hoping I’ll be approved around the same time as Robb.
Before the embassy opened, we went to Almaty’s Central Park. Quiet open spaces and benches! But my favorite bit was the lake. It was frozen over but it was starting to melt. So we were kicking ice chunks from the ledge to see if we can crack the frozen lake below. Good times!
We stayed in on our first night after the hostel let us check in and allowed to take a shower after two days of not showering. Thank you to supermarket plauv and Korean tofu salad for dinner!
The next day, we went to the Green Market (Zelyony Bazaar) to see where the locals shop. It was definitely a lot of sensory overload.
The lady that got us was the cheese lady. She let us try some of her products including a big piece of kaskt (құрт), a dried salty cheese. Robb described the taste as “a slice of day old pizza” and I added “that had been dropped in a vat of salt and left to dry.” Needless to say, never again.
After a few cups of Americanos to get rid to the cheese, we headed to 28 Panfilovets’ Park. The park honors the men from Kazakhstan who died on the battlefields of the 2nd World War against Nazi fascism.
There is an ‘eternal flame’ by the war memorial where schoolchildren put flowers on the last day of school, and newlyweds also come to have their photos taken there.
We found ourselves wandering around Zhybek Zholy street. Robb said that we wanted to chill at a bar, and so we went and found a very American looking sports bar. I ordered tea and ironically enough, that pot of cranberry, mint and cinnamon tea was one of the most satisfying cups of tea I’ve ever had. Granted, this pot of tea was a whooping 990KZT ($3.11/€2.92), pricey by Kazakh standards, I would gladly pay this again.
We spent our last day in Almaty wandering around. The joys of late night flights!
And since we knew we’ll be back in Almaty, we had time to go to other places around the city when it wasn’t snowing up a storm.
Almaty… To be continued…