Saturday, May 30, 2015

arriving in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Jaime and I traveled from Tashkent to Samarkand by train. The train was great.

We took a taxi to the hotel that we requested the travel agency book for us. We had to book all of our trains and hotels (and some of our taxi services) through a travel agency in order to get the invitation to Uzbekistan for the tourist visa. This wasn't a problem at all and actually made our week of traveling very easy... BUT... we arrived to the hotel, a lovely hotel, and were told that we did not have a reservation.

Checking in with the travel agency, we found out that they had booked us at a different hotel. Uhhhh fine but we wish we had been told that!

So... this hotel, that we are sad to leave, calls another taxi for us (the front entrance of this hotel opens to a space holding two amazing look mosques). We get in this taxi and then the driver sits at the entrance to a roundabout for a few minutes. He's on the phone... his walkie talkie... and asking us where the hotel is. (I love when taxi drivers ask me where we are going! Not.)

Turns out that the hotel we have a reservation at is a couple of years old but not many people know about it. We had the same issue with two other taxi drivers later on, not knowing where the hotel is or have ever heard of it. By then, Jaime and I could guess on how to get there through the maze of streets, one-ways, and dead ends.

The name of the hotel had the same name of a large mosque, Bibi-Khanym, so the driver went in that direction and we stopped a few times to ask people along the way. (Oh, it's been raining this whole time too. Just to add to all that's going on and not knowing where we're going.)

At one point, the driver asked a man on the side of a street, then took a sharp left turn and there was a HUGE wall next to us on the left-hand side of the car. Come to realize - this wall is one of the outside walls of the mosque. We turn the corner and then he slows down and is about to go down a VERY steep ramp.

I look at Jaime and say, "Oh. No. We. Are. NOT!" (She laughed about that for a long time!) Jaime's taller than I am and could see from the back seat of the taxi that this wasn't a ramp, but stairs.

The taxi guy thought he was SO funny, making us think that he was going to drive down the steps! Sheesh.  : P  I fell for it!

Turns out that the taxi stayed put and we had about a 50-meter walk or so down a sidewalk to get to the hotel.

We finally made it! The hotel was nice and the area turned out to be great, just like the other hotel.

Bibi-Khanym Mosque as seen from Bibikhanum Hotel is shown below. (As I'm typing this and I try to go to the hotel's website to link the name, the webpage won't open. TripAdvisor lists it but shows no prices. The hotel was great - but no wonder we couldn't find it and no one seemed to know about it!)

A panoramic of the mosque:

A couple early sunset views from a rooftop at the back of the hotel that I climbed up to:

No comments:

Post a Comment