From Armenia to Kazakhstan (Almaty) through Georgia
Last week, we did enjoy our last few days in the Caucasus before flying to Kazakhstan. We needed to stay a few more days there in order to catch our flight. We chose Yerevan and Tbilisi to get a final taste of Armenia and Georgia.
On our 79th day, we landed in Almaty Kazakhstan. Before any visit to the city, we headed to the Uzbek consulate to sort out our Visas. It proved to be an adventure: we left the hotel under the sun and after 30 minutes of walk, we got caught by a storm. We found shelter in a nearby commercial centre. After one hour, the storm was still there. The clock was ticking, the embassy is opened for Visa only between 3pm and 6pm. So we decided to walk the remaining few kilometers under the strong rain. Bad luck again, one of the street was more a river than a street and it was impossible to cross it without some heavy duty boots. So we took a nearby bus (not really knowing were it was heading) to cross the street. The bus took us closer to the consulate and we could walk the remaining kilometer. At the end, and after quite some waiting there we got our Visas!
Almaty is a big modern city. The infrastructures are pretty good, the sidewalks are in good shape, there are lot of buses (without any map though) and restaurants and cafes on almost every blocks. It was also a long time that we didn’t feel on the bottom of the social scale when it comes to crossing a road. Here drivers will stop and let you pass (like at home). On the weather side, it’s either very hot or raining a lot. And on the food side, so far so good, we tried some of the local specialities and enjoyed them. The only difficulty is to order something without horse meet (the menus are often in Russian and Kazakh only).
we did specifically enjoy
- Yerevan: The FIRM barber shop where the owner offers you Whisky while taking care of your pilosity.
- Tbilisi: The MOMA (museum of modern art) with their permanent exibition on Zurab Tsereteli, a famous Georgian artist.
- Almaty: The center for ecotourism in Almaty who helped us organise a week “off the beaten path” in Kazakhstan.
- Yerevan: Hotel Tigran Mets in Yerevan. A very good alternative to hostels if you are looking for a double room in the very city center (with almost the same price).
- Almaty: Sky hostel located on the last floor of a building, the hostel is calm, clean and staff is very friendly.
Best Kept Secret Tip
There are two useful android apps in Almaty. Google translate where you can download languages for offline usage. With it you can then take pictures of the menu in a restaurant, get the translated version and make sure your are not ordering horse kidneys or mutton brain. The other useful app (for Almaty only) is citybus.kz. This is the only way we found to have all the buses maps. Since Almaty is rather big, walking is not always an option here. This app did prove to be convenient for us to come back to the hostel quite a few times.