Saturday, July 26, 2008

So Much to Do, So Little Time!

That sums up our experience in Almaty. Being the largest city in Kazakhstan and the former capital city of Kazakhstan, Almaty is abundant with things to do and see. Unfortunately, we find ourselves in the predicament of deciding what to see and what we are close enough to see by walking since we haven’t really all that much time here. Something that also weighs in on our decision is the direction of the mountains. Since we are on the south side of the city, going is much easier than returning because the city is built on quite a slope, so it’s downhill all the way there, but uphill all the way back. And by uphill we don’t just mean a little bout here or there, it’s a steep uphill the whole way. On one block we walked yesterday we were able to calculate that the grade rose about 6 feet over the course of the block. The shopping mall across from us has a full story difference from one side to the other. That is, when you walk in the side closest to us, you are at street level but if you depart from the other side, you must go down one level to be at street level again. Those of you who spent considerable time here in Almaty must have legs of steel by now!

However, our adventurous spirits did take us on a bit of a walking tour the past two days. The first day we scouted out the locations nearest to us until we got our bearings and yesterday we ventured a little farther. As it turns out, we are about two blocks from the Presidential Residence and the Central Museum (pictured below), which we will set out to see later today.

Yesterday we ventured to Kok-Tobe, which is a beautiful park up the mountain that you access by taking a cable car. From atop Kok-Tobe you can look over the entire city, (well the part that isn’t covered up by smog, anyway). There is a bit of a zoo, some restaurants, a children’s play area along with numerous water features and souvenir stands. It was definitely beautiful and very peaceful there, and we can see why it is a popular destination. Here are a couple of pictures from atop Kok-Tobe. The views of the city appear blurry, but that is actually smog, not a camera malfunction.
Nope, we didn’t get as far as Paris, this is the French Embassy here in Almaty!

On Friday, we ventured south of our apartment to scout out an area that has a lot of new developments. There are a number of skyscrapers being built. We also came across this beautiful building, which isn't on our map, so we aren't exactly certain what it might be. Unfortunately we couldn’t get a great picture of it because it is surrounded by trees and buildings that block the view, but it is definitely beautiful nonetheless. From the side you can get a feel for the steepness of the city.

Max enjoying the playground on one of our last days in Ust.


The Willners said...

Hey Germans!!
We just got home and we are all glad that everything is going good!!! Can't wait to see you!!
The Willners

keoghclan said...

Hi guys. Lovely to hear the updates from your blog. You really are on the last leg of it now arn't you? Your journey has been so full of adventures and fun hasn't it? I love your ability to always look on the bright side (at least on blogland :-))Enjoy Almaty, I laughed about your comment about the the hills....I remember noticing them at the beginning but after 9 weeks of walking that city it became normal for me!! In fact Toronto was very boring and flat when I came home!!

Enjoy your last few days in Kazland. Thank you for letting us share your journey.

The Keoghclan

PHNcp said...

So glad you're getting closer to arriving home.

Can hardly wait to meet & greet!

Riders won yesterday 5-0

Cathy P

Crystal & Kirk said...

Oh my what an adventure! I am so happy and excited for you both. What an adorable little man! (Max that is!) We're so excited for Reece's new little neighbour playmate to arrive. We'll give you a week or two to settle, and then we'll pop over for a visit. Please call if you need anything.
Crystal & Kirk