Thursday, December 2, 2010
Day 3 in Almaty: Panfilov Park, Walking, and Funny English
Tuesday, 30 November 2010
Half of the 6 people in our apartment are early risers; half of us are late risers. The kids and our new American friend M are the early riser. My friend R and co-worker L and I are the late risers. So today was another late start like yesterday.
First, R and M had to go to the train station to change M's ticket so she could return on the same train as us. L, I and the kids decided to walk towards Zelony Bazaar (the Green Market), the place where we had decided to start the day.
It was a fun walk down tree-lined streets, and soon we felt like we could be in Paris--fancy shops on our sides. We popped into a cosmetics store where L finally found the hair dye that she uses (yet to be found in Astana!)
We arrived at Panfilov Park and decided to stop there with the kids. Panfilov Park is where the amazing, yellow Russian Orthodox cathedral is. I had seen it last year and was awe-struck. L went inside while I watched the kids at the nearby playground.
Some horse-drawn carriages came running by at fast pace, the kids chased the carriage. We found a spot behind the church with dozens of pigeons, which entertained the girls. Finally, we went inside the cathedral.
The cathedral is all gold inside, and amazing. We didn't go far in, just shopped at the gift shop in front.
By then R and M had met up with us, so we walked the block to Zhibek Zholy Street, which I now know means "Silk Way" in Kazakh.
The street was super-crowded, with vendors on the street. We shopped and bought some warm pants for the girls. (4 pants for 3500 Tenge--$24!)
Then we went inside some huge building, which kind of reminded me of Artyom in Astana--a large, overcrowded mall with stands and cubicles for stores. I found a stand with genuine Soviet pins, the cheapest being $10 and the most expensive been much, much more.
Then we walked some--we never went to the Green Market, it's well known for food, but we didn't need food and we were getting cold--and found the Silk Way Mall, which we'd heard of. But the entrance we were near was closed off, and we were hungry, so we popped inside a restaurant called Pizza Mia.
I will always remember this restaurant for its English. It was nice that they had a menu in English, but it was funny to read. Under dessert, you could choose "Ice Cream 'Move & Pick' 2 balls." We had a good laugh over that.
You could choose "bread funds" (we figured out that this was bad translation of "bread fondue").
On the door, you could "Na sebya" (Russian for "towards yourself"--eg, pull) or, in English "Inwards."
As we left, my Kazakh friend talked to the waitress and we correctly translated quite a few items for her.
The others were tired and ready to take a cab. I volunteered to walk the girls home. It was only about a mile, and we were full of energy.
It was night-time, so we just took the same route as we had before. We popped into a store which was selling ENGLISH-LANGUAGE newspapers! Unable to decide, I bought all 3--USA Today, The International Herald Tribune, and the Times of Central Asia. These 3 newspapers were a big hit at the apartment.
One more day in Almaty, a day of relaxing and conversation, a day of exploration and new finds, a day of two little girls getting along splendidly. A good vacation!