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This is my last stop, visiting more friends whom I know through work. It's great having them show me around. They live in a surprisingly spacious apartment in a building built by the Soviets in the 90's, so another inside look at life here.
Astana became the 'new ' capital of Kazakhstan in 1997, moved from Almaty by the strong-man president because it was more central to the Kazakh and Russian populations, and less ...
Thank you all so much for your prayers for safe travel. God was gracious and we arrived with all our luggage (19 bags!) and a minimum of discomfort from airplane food and leg space. :)
We fell into bed around 1:30am Kazakhstan time, had a leisurely morning, and left around noon for a quick drive tour of downtown before heading to Eigilik coffee shop to meet Alexey's co-laborer, Martha ...
Hard work getting up today, partly because I lost two hours yesterday traveling through two time zones and second because it just seemed a bit ground hog day. The hills have disappeared replaced with soft rolling climbs over plains. The road are quick B type roads but very bumpy and didn't do my knees any favours. It was also a day of firsts. BAD. 1 First time I forget ...
... destination: Astana. This little town was declared Kazakh capital in 1997 and since then they have been building a futuristic town in the middle of the steppe. The new town centre is a sea of concrete, glass, metal and very modern and bizarre architecture with the latest addition a leaning tent with indoor beach, oceanium, shopping centre and mini-golf. All very expensive and chique. After the tent we drove to the Parliament House and must have missed ...
... old bathroom. Unfortunately we weren't able to go up the Bayterek Tower, which was closed for renovations. This tower is supposed to give great views over Astana and even has a hand print of the president which plays the national anthem when pressed! Our last touristy thing in Astana was to a museum built on the site of the ALZHIR Women's Gulag, where women 'traitors of the USSR' were sent during the 1930's to 1950's from all across the old ...