Sunday, April 15, 2018

SAMARKAND, UZBEKISTAN: SLEEPING, WALKING, SHOPPING, AND EATING

Our tour group spent two full days and two nights in Samarkand. After several days on the train and a crazy-busy itinerary, it was a relief to have a some unscheduled time in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We stayed at the Registan Plaza, a nice hotel located within walking distance of Registan Square:

Samarkand celebrated its 2,750th birthday . . . ten years ago. Yeah, it is OLD:

The Samarkand coat of arms shows a winged lion (At first I thought it was a leopard, but that is a lion's tail) . . .

. . . that made me think of the winged Lion of St. Mark of Venice:
Picture from here
Or even more, this image, for which I can't find the source (I had it; I lost it.):

Our hotel was great--not the nicest hotel of the trip, but still at least four stars:
The best feature of the hotel was its location. One morning we had a few hours to kill, so Bob and I set out on a walk from out Hotel to Registan Square, a distance of about 1.7 miles. It was a very entertaining stroll.


I grew to love the women who sweep and plant and generally make everything look nice. We saw them doing their job in pretty much every place we visited on this trip. It made me think about all the people in the United States who could use (and should get) a job:




Our first stop was to chat with Amir Temur/Timur/Tamerlane. This is a BIG statue. How big is it?

Pretty darn big. I'd say at least 20 feet high.

He looks quite benevolent (left), but that sword in his hand (right) was probably spattered with blood most of the time:

Sometimes we saw writing in Cyrillic characters, as on the statue base below:

. . . and other times writing was in the Latin alphabet, as in the sign below (where you can also can see that there is more than one way to spell Uzbekistan/O'sbekiston, just like there his more than one way to spell Timur/Temur/Tamerlane):

One thing I loved in Samarkand was the borders planted with basil. It smelled SOOOOO good, and for some reason I often found myself wishing for some pesto:

I wonder what this building is? Although situated in the middle of a park, it's probably too fancy to be the public restrooms, but in Samarkand, nothing would surprise me:


While not quite as large as the Temur statue, these two larger-than-life golden tigers were nevertheless quite impressive.

Don't mess with these bad boys:

Just past the tigers was a large square and fountain in front of a curious mural on the side of what looks like an apartment building:

Perhaps this is a story familiar to Uzbeks, but I was clueless. Nevertheless, I was struck by how much can be done with only three colors:

From the city square, we could see the golden tigers and several domes in the distance:

When we were in Samarkand, one U.S. dollar could buy about 7,000 Uzbek soms. That means a hamburger was a little more than a dollar, a hot dog was about sixty cents, and a pizza was just over two dollars.

The photo below is a display window for a butcher shop. I think that might be raw liver on the skewers, but I am not sure what the white blobs are. By the way, the china pattern must be the official Uzbek pattern because I saw it everywhere. And don't you love the grass base?

We decided this must be some kind of fat. It's probably not pork, which is taboo for most Muslims:

Then we passed a pet store . . .

. . . where just outside the door a big black crow was tethered to the fence. I tried to get him to say "Nevermore!" but he was uncooperative:

The bread always looked so delectable, but it was never very good. I wonder if these browned triangles would have been as tasty as they look. They look flaky, like croissants. Or perhaps they are meat pies:

Down the road from Hotel Registan is Restaurant Registan, which "offers you the most delicious national lunch and dinner at an affordable price!!! Excellent service and pleasant music will not leave you indifferent."  (We were not convinced and continued on with our walk.)

I still can't get over how much the locals liked to be photographed:

They liked it even more if one of us got in the picture with them!

Hey, I know this verdigris lady! What is she doing here??

And while I'm posting advertisements, how about this albino baby strongman? Just a little creepy.

A caravan frieze reminds pedestrians that they are walking the Silk Road.

This could almost be Moroni blowing his trumpet (x 4) on top of an LDS temple spire. Okay, maybe not.

Later in the day our tour group visited the Siab (or Siyob) Bazaar, the largest market in Samarkand. For locals, this is the equivalent of Costco or a Wal-mart Supercenter:

Some of the market is under a roof, but the sides are open:

Another section of the bazaar is quite a bit more open to the elements:

Some vendors just throw their goods down on any open spot. These two ladies were selling some kind of animal pelt:

Everything you can imagine is available for purchase in large quantities, including many kinds of nuts:


. . . tea and dried fruits:

. . . fresh fruits:



. . . fresh vegetables:



. . . eggs:

. . . and dried beans:

 Some indoor stalls had meat (and I was so glad Bob didn't have a way to cook it):

 . . . and cheeses:

. . . and sausages:

One of my favorite things in the market was this creative repurposing of baby carriages:

Bob's favorite things in the market was the smoked fish booth:

This lady was pretty happy to sell Bob one of her fish, and Bob was pretty happy with his purchase. It's not that the fish was all that tasty, but good travel is all about unique food experiences like this, isn't it?

Personally, I'd rather have THIS experience. I think making a fork shadow by dusting a fork with cocoa is very unique:

2 comments:

  1. I believe symbol on the Samarkand seal is a leopard. This source says it was originally a lion and changed to a leopard. https://www.advantour.com/uzbekistan/legends/samarkand-symbol.htm
    The markets are one of my very favorite activities.

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  2. Very cool to see you guys walk around by yourselves. I love those carrots--why can't we get those kind around here?

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