Uzbekistan: The pearls of the Silk Road, Bukhara & Samarkand
In our last episode we left you with our bicycle ride in Khiva. The same evening we took a plane to Bukhara, located 450km East. It was the easiest way to reach it, the alternative being a 8 hours taxi ride in the desert under 45 degrees. Bukhara is bigger than Khiva but we again met travellers sharing the same route from Khiva back to Tashkent (See our latest newsletter). One of them (Yoon) who was here a few days before us kindly offered us to be our (free) tour guide in the old city.
Our hotel in Bukhara was located in front of the pond (Labi Hauz). When we reached it from the airport, we immediatly understood that we were in an oasis. The air was way more fresh than in Khiva and the pond with some water jet on its sides was diffusing the most enjoyable water breeze. On the next day, we visited Bukhara by foot. While walking a little bit farther from the main monuments, we saw the Chor Minor madrasa. It is a very calm and peaceful place. So we sat on a bench on the side of a house and admired the view, all of a sudden a lady called us from the window located up the bench. She handed us a plate with delicious fried donuts she just cooked. This was one of the many moments of Uzbek hospitality we experienced.
After Bukhara, we headed for Samarkand, this time by train. We could try to describe you all the beautiful monuments there, but it will take too long to honor them properly. One thing that we didn’t know well before is that the Uzbek government is taking great care of its historical heritage. It restores every madrasas, every mosque and is pretty conservative about the techniques. It enforces craftsmen to use the same methods as in the middle age. The result feels like time travelling.
we did specifically enjoy
- The Kalon in Bukhara, the majestic minaret, spared by Chinggis Khan when invading the country, is a wonder of architecture and mix of several styles. We spent hours at its foot at sunset. An experience we highly recommend.
- The Gur Emir, or Amir Timur Mausoleum, in Samarkand. The restoration works did give the monument its shine back.
- The watermelon, the sweet and gorgeous fruit is a traditional end of meal in Uzbekistan. We must confess we are not big watermelon fans but the Uzbek fruits are very pleasant here. It is also an ideal way to rehydrate after a day of visit under the burning sun.
- Bukhara: Hotel Fatima: A great and very new hotel, only a few steps from Labi Hauz the last pond of Bukhara, in the very heart of the old city.
- Samarkand: Jahongir BB Samarkand: A beautiful Bed and Breakfast located in a quiet street, close to the main sites. Nice outdoor space and a greeny garden to enjoy breakfast.
- Bukhara: Chinar Chaikhana, a good roof top terrace to enjoy shashliks or salads at reasonnable prices.
- Samarkand: Platan great outdoor seating in the new part of the city. Salads were very fresh and the original fountain is a plus to enjoy the evening.
- Samarkand: Local restaurants located in the Suzangaron street, inexpensive and simple.
Best Kept Secret Tip
If you are suffering from the heat, instead of the traditional siesta in the middle of the afternoon, try the swimming pool of the hotel Afrosyab palace. Very refreshing for a small cost, the entry is only 15000 for men and 25000 for women (don’t ask us why)