Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 1 in Almaty

We arrived in Almaty on Sunday morning and spent the morning getting to our new apartment and then showering and resting. We were tired after our train trip (more tired than after last year's train trip... but last year we arrived late in Almaty and so had been able to sleep in on the train.

We took a taxi to the apartment complex, where the landlady met us. She seemed very professional; she and a man who spoke a bit of English helped us up the four flights of steps to our apartment.

Our apartment--so cheap!--is large, with 2 large bedrooms and a living room. My friend R & I are sharing one bed; my coworker L and our new American friend are sharing another; and
Sophia & my friend's daughter are sharing the pull-out couch. We are three pairs of generations, all single women: two women in their sixties; two women in their thirties; and two girls under ten.

After showering and resting, R went to church (I was still un-showered by the time of the last Catholic Mass at noon). Around 5 pm we decided to head out to find something to eat.

We wandered a bit and R and I kept getting a feeling of deja-vu--had we been here last week? Almaty is a great city for those who love maps and cardinal directions--the streets are all parallel and perpendicular and run north-south and east-west--but not good for those who find their way via landmarks. Every street looks identical--large, about 4 lanes, sometimes one-way, large sidewalks for walking, ditches between the sidewalks and roads for drainage, trees, and several-story tall buildings. Pretty, but every block and street corner looks the same!!

We passed a few places that seemed OK, but finally settling on a restaurant called City Cafe (with City spelling in English and Cafe in Russian). It was a great choice! The food was delicious and not too expensive; I had lamb shashlyk (like a kebob), and Sophia was able to have her favorite--cheese pizza. The menu was in Russian, English, and Turkish, and some of the food was Turkish; they also served more local cuisine, such as "manty" (dough-like noodles) and Uzbek plov.

We had beer and dessert, and just a nice time relaxing. The girls let us chat--they sat at a different table and amused themselves. We walked home slowly, taking pictures along the way.

A great first day in Almaty!

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