It's been a long, long time. First we traveled all summer. Then we recovered from the summer and got everyone back into normal life. I feel like I'm almost caught up, except here and it feels like it will be nearly impossible to do that with the trip to Uzbekistan. I'll start with one building at a time, but first, some general ramblings.
It's been a very long time that my husband and I have wanted to visit Uzbekistan. We've applied for visas, made plans, traveled nearby, lived in Kyrgyzstan, and studied Uzbek, all without actually getting to go. So when the chance came up to go for work, both of us jumped at it, but also tried to not get too attached to the idea because we'd been foiled so many times before.
But then the visa was approved, and the travel, and the time off, and there was housing for us, and we found a way to spend the night in Istanbul there and back. And it kept getting closer and things were still working out for us. Some friends of ours who had a work thing scheduled in Africa had theirs cancelled at the last minute. Others had their work travel cancelled too. Saudi Arabia's visa system went down a few hours before we were scheduled to fly out, which meant they might not let us leave. In the end though, we made it to Tashkent.
We flew to Khiva the first weekend and took the train to Bukhara and Samarqand the second weekend. It wasn't long enough in any city, especially not in Bukhara and Samarqand, but I'm not sure if either of us could ever have enough time there. We hadn't planned on going to Khiva but the train tickets the other cities weren't working out on short notice so we went there instead and I'm glad we did. I'd read so much negative stuff about Khiva over the years, but I loved it. While it was very touristy and restored, most of the tourists there were not western tourists and a majority were Uzbek. There were far more western tourists in Bukhara and Samarqand. And what's not to love about a tiny walled city? Clearly the demographics of the walled city of changed since there were lots of people living there and I had a lovely time wandering through all of the streets and climbing on the city walls, in between seeing all of the restored buildings. It's not really like Samarqand or Bukhara, but it was very worth visiting in its own way.
Bukhara and Samarqand were, of course, wonderful. We stayed a short way from the Jewish synagogue there which was amazing to see after reading so much about it. Bukhara felt, by far, the most authentic of the three cities, which isn't surprising. And then we went to Samarqand where we finally saw the Registan and so many other places. Samarqand was much more Sovietized, but you that was easy to ignore.
Even more than seeing so many places, one of the best parts of the trip was speaking Uzbek, which I wrote about in the previous post. And eating familiar food. And being in a place that felt so comfortable even though we were there for such a short time. I can't wait to go back.