#4 Italy, May 29, 2001

#4 Italy, May 29, 2001

Our last day together in Tuscany was spent going to Lucca. Lucca’s piazza is circular, and29-1 the old town is surrounded by 38-foot high 16th and 17th century walls. We looked at several of their lovely 11th and 12th century churches, 30-2with the classical Romanesque Cathedrale di San Martino being outstanding with many beautiful artworks. We had lunch on the piazza at an outdoor cafe. On the way back to our car we walked around the four-km path on top of the walls, guarded by 126 cannon.

Our dinner that night was a finale at Il Casentino restaurant. We all dressed up and 55ordered quite a banquet!

 

 

 

 

It was a lovely capstone to our times 55-1there.

 

 

 

 

 

In the morning we drove to the Rome airport where Susan and I dropped off Jean45 and Marilyn, who had a noon flight, and Ruth, who was hoping to change her ticket to this flight, also, as she had a scheduled flight on Tuesday. Susan and I returned to Partina and later that day Vince and Norma arrived to tell us about their many adventures. We had a lovely evening together. This morning we all drove to Rome and set off for home, where I am now! What a wonderful trip!

 

 

Trip to Tuscany.jpg

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#3 Italy, May 26, 2001

#3 Italy, May 26, 2001

Siena was our next destination, a lovely town that was a powerhouse a few centuries back, 49competing with Florence. We cappuccino-ed on the way, parked, then walked to the 13th century church with its 10 frescos by Pinturicchio from 1509. The painter had included himself in each fresco, which we had fun ferreting out. We continued to the Piazza del Campo, where they have the Palio (a horserace) twice a year, that has been going on since the 1200s. Some shopping and some museum-ing rounded out Siena.

 

 

We proceeded up the mountains to Castelini del Chianti to find the Olive Garden Restaurant/Cooking School that Ruth’s friend’s son had attended. We arrived to find them closed, but they made an exception
50for us and served us a lunch during a thundershower.

A rest from some driving—-exploring Partina. While it is a tiny village, there are many things to see and do here. One thing we did was hang some framed pictures of Piero della Francesca’s wonderful Arezzo murals over our davenport. This was a special thing as42 when Roberto and Claire first met in Florence in 1993, their first date was to view these murals in Arezzo in the Church of San Francisco.

 

Of course we had cappuccinos at the Bar Sport, often with 15Vivaldo treating us.

We also bought biscotti from the local 51bakery (the Best!) to have with our Vin Santo, a dessert wine. Here they call them cantucci.

17Exploring the tiny castle—-the outside anyway—-it is owned by a family from Rome; visiting Roberto’s mother’s grave in 33the Partina cemetery and walking across the 34-1tiny river that runs through Partina while viewing the back of the 16th century 43-1church were some of the things to do in Partina.

We went to L’Orchello at Talla for lunch and stopped at Socana to see a 44-2.jpg600 BCE Etruscan altar.

We all got acquainted with Roberto’s sister and family, Roberta, Paolo, Mateo and Martina and invited them, 31along with Roberto’s father, Vivaldo, to an ‘American Brunch’ one Saturday morning. We served freshly squeezed orange 19-1juice, fruit, scrambled eggs, sausages, popovers, and coffee, with Marilyn’s banana bread for dessert, which was the biggest hit. The Italians do not eat breakfast like this, so I’m sure they thought it was pretty weird! Since none of them spoke 20-2any English and Susan and I only spoke a few words of Italian, communication was difficult but not impossible!

 

 

 

 

That afternoon we drove the short distance to Camoldoli, an 11th century monastery started by St. Ramould.  56.jpg

 

 

When we weren’t site-seeing, we breakfasted on the 52-1terrace, did our laundry and other sundry domestic activities that filled our days.53

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#2 Italy, May 22, 2001

#2 Italy, May 22, 2001

10-1Partina is a beautiful village set in a small valley.

 

 

 

 

Its 16th Century 12church is central to the town, as is the ‘Bar Sport’ where villagers congregate at all times of the day for a coffee. I was thrilled to see Roberto’s and Claire’s Christmas card 14displayed on the back of the bar. It was a picture (that I took) of Marco and Lorenzo playing in the Minnesota snow!

On Sunday we drove to Florence, a big 38-2undertaking, both for the 1 1/2 hour drive, but also to find parking.

 

We visited all the usual sites, like “The David,” the Medici Chapel, the Baptistry, the Ponteveccio, and Santa Croce with Galileo’s Tomb. Unfortunately the Duomo was closed.39

 

 

 

 

 

 

After lunch at the Piazza della Signorina, we noticed a large crowd gathered in front of the Duomo. The parade and church bell-chiming that followed were for the installation of a new Archbishop—-no doubt the reason that the Duomo was 32-1closed, earlier.

Leaving Florence, we were caught in a traffic jam, probably from a soccer game since many people were flying team flags out the windows of their cars.

The next day we returned to Poppi Castle and were treated to a tour of all three floors of the castle. This is 48new, as earlier I had not been able to see the inside. How nice! The classmates bought me six mugs for a hostess gift! We again ate dinner at Il Casentino at Poppi Castle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We visited Arezzo, briefly, having lunch at ‘La Taverna’ with 40-1vino frizzanti—-
white fizzy wine. Ruth admired (a copy of) an Etruscan Chimera from 600 BC.

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A trip out of Tuscany to visit Ravenna was on the docket. Since it is quite far from Partina  we had to leave quite early so I woke the gang up by playing Pavarotti singing some of the famous arias, turned up pretty loud! The driving was quite challenging so we stopped for a cappuccino in Mercato Saracen. Given the tradition of only paying when you are leaving rather than when you are served coffee, I forgot to pay. Nobody said anything! A few minutes later I decided to return to the coffee shop and use the restroom before we went on. The waiter then reminded me that I had not paid! Oofda!

22-1Ravenna was wonderful! These mosaics are from the 6th century when Ravenna was the Seat of the Catholic Church. They are just as bright and beautiful as ever! It was a fatiguing day, but well worth while!

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#1 Italy, May 18, 2001

2#1 Italy, May 18, 2001

My ‘High School’ friends came to Italy to spend some time with me in Partina, the small village in Tuscany in which my Italian son-in-law grew up. I had spent a week there earlier with Roberto, and my grandsons, Marco (4) and Lorenzo (2). I drove to Rome to meet Marilyn, Jean and Ruth on their arrival. Then the four of us met Susan and her husband, Vince, and his sister, Norma.

 

We all repaired to the Hotel Dominos Aventino and settled in.

 

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The Coliseum was only about a mile away, so

36we visited that later in the afternoon.

6
The following day we went to the usual places: first the Palatine and Forum areas; then the Spanish Steps; followed by the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. We finished with an 8afternoon cappuccino at the Piazza Navona.

The next morning we took a taxi to the Vatican—-the taxi way-overcharged us to my chagrin; then when Vince was buying the museum tickets for him, Susan and Norma, the ticket-seller deliberately withheld his change, giving him only some coins, even though he had a number of euros coming in change. Not wanting to hold up the long line, Vince quickly moved on and realized a few minutes later that he had not received his change. I had observed the same thing just earlier when I was buying our four tickets—-a big pause before forking over the bills of change. I, too, at first thought that I had received the correct change, but immediately realized that it wasn’t nearly enough! At the Vatican, yet!! In spite of this, we very much enjoyed seeing the Vatican Museum including the Sistine Chapel, as well as St. Peter’s Cathedral.47.jpg

For lunch we walked along the Tiber River to find a restaurant that was Ruth’s recommendation, but alas it was closed. However, we found another nearby and enjoyed our lunch with wild strawberries for dessert!

The following morning the five ‘high school friends’ boarded the van and headed for Partina in Tuscany. ‘Our’ house belongs to my son-in-law and has ample space and bathrooms for us. Norma and Vince rented a car and headed for other sites.9.jpg

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Our first dinner was at Il Casentino restaurant on the grounds of nearby 12th century Poppi Castle. On the way back we stopped at Roberto’s friend’s shop (Davide) and were able to use his internet.16.jpg

We also bought some groceries in Partina, of course making the whole town (population 600) aware of the ‘Americans’ that had arrived.

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Soon Vivaldo, Roberto’s father, came over to welcome us, as did Roberta, Roberto’s sister.

We will be exploring the area around Partina in the coming 10 days.

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#1 Sardinia/Malta, Oct. 8, 2016

Dear Everybody,

What a hassle flying is getting to be; still I made it to Caglieri, Sardinia, my first Cagliaridestination. This lovely island in the Mediterranean is part of Italy. Its capital, Caglieri (pronounced Cull’-yer-ee—-roll the ‘r’) is a beautiful city.

The waterfront Waterfronthas lots of big cruise ships and many yachts.

The main piazza houses the train station, the City Hall, and the bus station, where you buy your tickets in a booth in the local McDonalds!.Town Hall

I’m staying in a very nice hostel near the main piazza; they serve an Italian breakfast of a croissant and all kinds of coffee. Yes, the coffee comes out of a machine with buttons, so it’s not perfect, but what is?!

I spent most of my first full day getting organized. I had forgotten my electric adapter so I had to chase all around to find one to buy. Then I bought train and bus tickets for some day trips, and also for when I leave, next week.

Spaghetti with ClamsFor linner, seafood rules, here. I had spaghetti and clams and VERY good wine at a restaurant down the street. There are sidewalk restaurants every 30 feet here—-the locals must eat out a lot!

I popped into the San Sepolcro church right next door, visiting a 4th century Baptistry in the crypt.4th C. Baptistry

 

 

 

On the Piazza San Sepolcro, just down some steps from my hostel, it’s fun to watch the locals at rest and Piazza San Sapolcroplay.

The next day I took a walking tour mapped out in the Lonely Planet to see the sights. Unfortunately it was the first hot, humid day, and the tour meant climbing up and down—-it kind of wore me out! Still there was lots to see. I’ll spare you all about the churches, except the Cathedral of Santa MariaCathedral of Santa Maria had two wonderful marble pulpits carved by Guglielmo da Pisa in 1312. Several of the buildings had been rebuilt after World War II—-I hadn’t realized that Sardinia was bombed.

2 Pulpits-Guglielmo da Pisa-1312Of course the Romans were here, too, Roman Amphitheaterand built an amphitheater but it had been badly pillaged for building materials so was barely recognizable. Still they have concerts in this place in the summer!
Lion on Lion GateFrom he Castello, way up high, with its thick walls, Cagliarione has marvelous views of Caglieri. And the Lion’s Gate does have a couple of lions on it.

The next day I tackled the museums way up high in the Castello. Just walking up is a chore! The Archeological Museum was a gem! Neolithic-3200-2600 BCEThere were some beautiful cross-shaped females faintly reminiscent of the ones in the Greek Islands. Then there were the bronze figures that go back to the Neolithic time—-6000-3500 BCE. There are lots of them, all interesting. DSC03561Most are about three inches high, but some are as large DSC03555as eight inches. These nurighic bronzetti have been invaluable for archeologists to learn about the lives in this era.

 

Of course the Romans were here—-Roman-Antestook over the island in 227 BCE. They, too, built temples and left their mark.

DSC03571

 

Following that museum I went to the Pinacoteca, which had art from the 1400s to the 1800s. Prominently displayed
Cavaro-St. PaulCavaro-St. Peterwere four works by Pietro Cavaro who founded the Stampace School of art and is Sardinia’s most important artist. I did think the St. Peter and St. Paul paintings were special.

Van Gogh-The GardnerBut wait! There was More! In the San Pancrazio building they had a display of ‘recovered’ art. All of this art had been stolen or illegally excavated. The Italian police did an investigation and found over 5000 pieces in Basil, Switzerland, which they confiscated in 2013!. Included were many nurighic bronzetti, as well as a Gaugin and a Van Gogh! There was some wonderful old religious art, too, by some of the Florentines.

MusselsI staggered back down the mountain to a good restaurant where I had great seafood for my linner. My ‘starter’ was mussels—-well now I’m spoiled and won’t want the ones I buy at Whole Foods. These were so good! I suppose they were harvested that morning. I followed this up with pasta (with local sausage) and King Prawns.

Oh, I forgot—-the night before last I had decided to getEvening Stilt Walkers-Piazza San Sepolcro some air and as I headed down the steps to the Piazza San Sepolcro I heard music—-it was a free amateur show with stilt walkers, dancing to recorded music. So I had a small beer as I watched the show. Yes, Caglieri is a lively town!

Today I took an 8:00 bus to a town called Pula. On the way there I saw flamingoes in the backwater from Flamingoes on the way to Pulathe Mediterranean.

From Pula I got a shuttle toRoman Baths go to Nora, which has lots of layers of history. Nora was founded by the Nora-Roman Site-250 BCEPhoenicians in the 6th C. BCE; the Romans took over the island in the 3rd C BCE.  Virtually all of what I saw dated to Roman times. There were Roman baths and mosaic floors and there was a Roman Mosaic Floorsmall theater.

Small Roman TheatreUnfortunately the shuttle bus returning to Pula wasn’t coming for two more hours, and then, if I waited, I would miss my Caglieri bus. The Lonely Planet book said it was four km—-easily walkable but when we came, I noticed that it seemed much longer than four km. Then which way to go? I started walking and wondering if I were on the right road. Yes, I finally came to a sign that said, “Pula.” I kept going but it WAS more than four km and it was getting late. So I stuck out my thumb to hitchhike. I know, Europeans don’t hitchhike (nor any more do Americans, I think) and several cars went by. Luckily one stopped—-an older couple from Milan—-who didn’t look like ax murderers! They dropped me at the Piazza, but it was still an hour until my Caglieri bus. So, even though it was too early to eat, (only noon), I did anyway. I had a small draft beer and roast goat cheese. Was that good! On the way home I stopped and bought more fruit—-the cheese and bread with olive oil was pretty heavy!

After I got off the bus I checked into renting a car for a day, since an important World Heritage Site of a Paleolithic Nuraghe settlement—-in fact the most important one on the island—-isn’t reachable by bus with any good timing. I’ll probably do this on Saturday. However, the Sardinian drivers (like the mainland Italians) are skilled but aggressive. The way those cowboy bus drivers were slinging those buses around in the bus yard—-some were even double buses with the accordion connection—-didn’t bother them. They backed them up very fast, right up to a building, two feet away. I hope they don’t sling me off the road!

Anyway, all is fine and I’m enjoying Sardinia. I’ve been mostly alone in my dorm (I think the lady is ‘protecting’ me) so I’ve been kind of isolated. That’s why I stay in the dorms—-to interact with other travelers. I finally had three roommates last night, of which two were from France and one from Germany. Everybody is surprised when they find that I’m American. I think not many come here.

Posted in Sardinia/Malta 2015 | 1 Comment

#4 Uzbekistan, (Final) June 7, 2016

Dear Everybody,

The train to Samarkand was fine, and I gather that ‘Business Class’ meant that there were TVs in our compartment. There were six of us, three of which were children. One little girl offered me a cookie, which I accepted and enjoyed. The ride lasted over three hours, but Offerning Me a Cookiethen, there we were, in Samarkand. As the taxi drove me through the town to my hostel, I could see beautiful facades and towers of madrassas very near my hostel. And a surprise when I got to the hostel—-there were four parties that I had met at previous hostels. The Japanese dentist woman was there; also the American girl and the Swiss boy; the Italian and the Brit; and an older Taiwanese man I had met at breakfast that morning. This often happens.

When I was getting on the train, it seemed that the train pulling in just then was not the right one. I asked a porter who was handling six bags. He looked at my ticket and indicated that I should follow him. (No English) He proceeded to put all six bags up into the train; then motioned to me to come up; and then he went down the other side, hauling all six bags with him on to the platform on the other side—-so I did the same. Yes, OUR train was on platform two, and now we could board.

Uzbek Women in SamarkandWhen I got off the train it was raining a bit, but it quit about the time I met these women, who were full of high spirits. I took a picture of them and so they all had to see that (on the back of my camera) and again, were very excited by my being American.

This brought me to three Madrassas that are very near my hostel. The one on the left was built in 1420; the other two in the 1600s.  I was excited to see them in more detail the next day. And, of course, there are many more of them. Look at the size of them relative to the people that are standing near.The Registan

My second day in Samarkand I really covered a lot of ground. I saw a ton of mosques, madrassas and mausoleums. This mausoleum was built in the 15th Century for the main Double-Dome Mausoleum for Wet Nursewet nurse at Timur’s (Tamerlane) Court. It has a double dome.

 

 

All of these have been restored, of course. There were pictures of how they looked before work was done.

Before Restoration

30 m. curved track from Observatory

 

Ulugbek, Timur’s grandson, was a ruler, but also a scientist. In the 1400s he built an observatory to follow the stars and planets. The curved arc of the astrolab of the observatory was uncovered by archeologists some time ago.

DSC05046The Hostel life is always fun. Here is the portal to my Bahodir B&B.

And the breakfast is huge! The group all assembles in the courtyard. There were Chinese, Europeans and one American! Me. Eating breakfast together and trading stories is a big part of the fun.Breakfast at Bahodir B&B Samarkand

 

Interacting with the people is a fun part, and they are pretty open to being photographed. Here it looks like Grandpa is taking his grandson Grandpa and Grandsonfor a stroll.Barefoot Trash Collectors

These little girls weren’t so lucky. They were barefoot, and seem to be foraging in the trash for salvageable items.

On the other hand, these girls are looking pretty Uzbek Gilrs in Blue JeansWesternized, although they are the only ones I’ve seen in blue jeans, so far.

 

 

Setting out one morning to see some more, this is the view of the Registan from my B&B. I had looked at these three madrassas on my first day here, but this day I took the time to enter them and see what they were all about.View of Registan from My Hostel

The third madrassa in the Registan had a carpet operation going inside of it. Two young women were tying knots a mile a minute, and three men were overseeing the operation and trying to sell the carpets.Carpet Procudtion and Sales

 

 

 

Then I took a city bus going in the direction of the statue of Amir Timur. Timur, is who we call ‘Tamerlane.” He was a successful warrior and On The City Busconquered much of Persia (now Iran), Turkey, Uzbekistan, and even India. Samarkand was his home base. Clearly he is respected in these parts. The statue of him is a focal point of the city. I got off when I saw the statue, and took a bit of time photographing and studying it. The bus leading to it was pretty full, but fun.

Amir Timur

 

 

 

 

 

From the statue, I walked to Gur-E-Amir Mausoleum, where Timur is buried, along with two sons and two grandsons (including Ulugbek). There are also a couple of teachers buried there, too. These mausoleums are really gorgeous, and have been beautifully
restored. This one was built in 1404 by Timur for his grandson, and prospective heir, but the grandson died in 1403, DSC05056.jpginitiating this building. The following year, Timur died unexpectedly in Kazakhstan when he was on his way to invade China, and so was also buried here.

Black Jade is Timur's Stone

 

Honoring Timur

 

The dark green (looks black) jade sarcophagus is Timur’s; the
others are the sons, grandsons, and teachers. Several people were saying prayers here, considering it a holy place.

At another of the madrassas, a restorer was diligently working his trade, with a tiny paintbrush.  Can you imagine what time and resources go into keeping up all these monuments? But clearly the local

Restoration Workpeople appreciate them, also, and pray when they’re in any of the mausoleums.

My last day in Samarkand, I hired a taxi to take me 90 km to the town of Shakhrisabz, Timur’s hometown. When I offered $20 American, lots of drivers wanted to take the job—-maybe that was a bit generous?

We started out; the first stop was the bread ladies. Six women swarmed around me opening the car doors; the driver bought two loaves. On to the next—-he had been making phone calls all along; we stopped right along the highway and a man jumped over the median divider—-my driver got out and the other man gave my man some money. On to Snow-Covered Mountains
Shakhrisabz. On the way I caught this view of snow-covered mountains, which was a surprise because the area around Samarkand is very flat.

In Shakhrisabz, the first sight was the Ak-Saray Palace, or what was left of it. It was Timur’s summer Ak-Saraypalace, built in the 1300s. It’s HUGE, and most of it doesn’t exist anymore.

From there I got an electric little bus to see the Kok-Gumbaz Mosque and Dorut Tilyovat. There are some more notables buried under the two smaller domes; the bigger dome is Kok-Gumbaz Mosque and Dorut Tilyovat with Poolthe mosque. This was all built in 1437.

There were more tombs and a crypt—-this time I made it down and up under my own steam, unlike the other day when it looked too scary and I went and got the young man ticket seller to take Down Into the Cryptmy hand going down, and also to help haul me out! The Crypt was built for Timur, but he died unexpectedly and is buried in Samarkand.

A big statue of Timur was the centerpiece of the whole Amir Timurcomplex. I’m told that usually on weekends there are lots of bridal parties lined up to be photographed in front of this statue.

There were hedges of—-either basil or Picking the Basilmint, I couldn’t quite decide which. There were women picking the leaves (or grooming them?) and it lent a lovely aroma in the 100-degree weather.

When I was through ‘looking,’ I walked back to where I had been dropped off. There was a row of cars, and the first white car seemed like ‘mine,’ with the driver smiling at me and greeting me—-I assumed it was he. I got in and at that point the driver put out his hand to shake mine; I did, but then he leaned in for the cheek-left and right greeting and that didn’t seem like my driver! And the interior of the car didn’t look quite familiar either. So I got out and walked a bit further down the way and there was my driver with the green shirt and white car! Well, you don’t get a very good look at the driver when you’re sitting beside him.

On the way back to Samarkand we again saw my five hostel mates that were on bicycles, which we had seen on our way to Shakhrisabz, bicycling up those big hills. When they left the hostel during breakfast, I didn’t realize they were going my way. So they had been pedaling all the time we drove to Shakhrisabz and were still pedaling to get there when we were driving back. They were a Dutch middle-aged couple, a German, a Frenchman and an American girl from Indiana.

Yesterday morning I took the train back to Tashkent, did a bit of shopping at the Chorsu Bazaar, along with linner, went to bed early, got a 4:45 AM flight out of Tashkent, and now (Tuesday evening) I’m Home!!

Yes, it’s always fun to go, but it’s always fun to get back home!

Posted in 2016, Uzbekistan | 3 Comments

#3 Uzbekistan, June 1, 2916

Dear Everybody,

Is it hot? Well, the car thermometer registered as high as 44 degrees C (112 degrees F) although mostly it stayed around 38 C (100 F). Still, the car had A/C so I couldn’t Camels with Ayar-Qalacomplain. However, climbing up the three forts that I visited out in the desert was hard work. This one is the Ayez-Qala, where the driver and I stopped for a cup of tea at the Ayaz-Qala Yurt Camp. The camp provides camels if you care to go for a ride. We were content with just having tea and visiting the fort, which had its heyday in the 6th-7th centuries. Still, staying overnight in the yurts would have bFamily Walking to Towneen fun.

A family walked by, headed for the town. I suggested we could fit them into our car, but my driver didn’t seem to want to.

By and by the car needed gas. We stopped at a sign saying ‘GAZ’ and it Proopane Gas Pumpturned out to be propane. Most of their cars run on propane! While the driver was paying, the attendant was running the propane into a ‘holder.’ Then he hooked a hose up to a funny place at the back of the car and ‘shot’ it into the car. All done, quick as a wink!

After visiting the three forts, we drove on to Bukhara, arriving at 5:00 PM, a very long day. Here I stayed in the Rustam & Zukhra hostel, opting Checking Into Rustam & Zukhra, Bukharafor a single room rather than the dorm bed I had reserved. Over dinner, which I could buy in the hostel, I had a nice conversation with an American young woman (first American on this trip) and a Dutch young man. Morning’s breakfast was a treat: good roll, triangular meat and onion dumpling, cheese, sausage, barley??, overcooked egg and potato; Breakfast at Rustam & Zukhrathen yoghurt with raisins in a sweet sauce to put in it; and tea. There was also bread, but their bread here isn’t as good as most countries’ bread.

The next day I did some sightseeing, but only the close-by area. It was again 100 degrees, so no fast moves! A beautiful ninth century mosque, the Maghoki-Attar, had an interesting history, with a 5th C. Zoroastrian9th C. Maghoki-Attar Mosque
Temple under it; under that was a Buddhist temple, plus until the 16th C. the mosque was used in the evenings by the Bukhara Jews. The excavated courtyard, with wall around it, is about 12 feet lower than the level of the city today. Many of these madrassas have excavated courtyards, as much has filled in with dirt over the centuries, raising the ground level of the city.

Nadir Divanbegl MedressaThe Lyabi-Hauz was a wonderful pool of water around which were three madrassas, and a beautiful restaurant, well shaded by two big trees, where I ate linner. Clearly this pool area is Bukhara’s Living Room, as local people were hanging out here, too.

The restaurant was right on the water, but there were no vacant tables next to the Restaurant Where I Atewater, so I asked a single woman if I could join her at her table. She quickly assented, and turned out to be an American. In fact she was here with a NYTimes travel group, as an ‘expert,’ who gives lectures on Uzbekistan. Today the travel group was going into Turkmenistan, and journalists are not permitted to go there DSC04701so she was waiting for her group to return. So we had a wonderful lunch of plov (their most popular national dish) together, and talked our heads off! She also turned out to be a best-selling author, named Laura Shaine Cunningham. What fun!

More and more madrassas here in Bukhara—-here’s one from a Old Turkmen Madrassalong time ago—-note the street level is several feet above where it was when it was in use. You can just see the top of the door. Many Madrassa Entranceof them have beautiful entrances. At first I tried to identify each one, but there are simply too many for that! So I just enjoyed each one, with their similarities, but small differences, too.

The beautiful Kalon Minaret along with the blue-domed Mir-i-Arab Medrassa, built in the 16th century, make a beautiful sight. The minaret was built in 1127, and at that time at 47 meters (about 150 feet), was the tallest DSC04727building in all of Central Asia.

 

 

 

These street sweepers were taking a short break from their duties. They do a Street Sweepersterrific job; everything is very clean, here.

With this 100 degree weather, I could only sightsee for a limited time before going back to my hostel, which is very near all the madrassas, to rehydrate and cool off with the A/C.

Then I visited the Art Museum, which was stifling, but had good paintings—-here are a Kurzin -Mirboboev Saidcouple: “Mirboboev Said” by Kurzin and “Holiday” by Mirzaev. Kurzin was one of the Russian artists that was actually sent to Siberia for being ‘politically incorrect’ Mirzaev "Holiday"and whose many paintings Savitsky rescued and put in his museum in Nukus.

I again ate my linner next to the pool, but in a different restaurant. I noticed that this restaurant had almost all locals and no tourists. I had a helpful waiter that pointed out a lamb dish, which I was hungry for, and I had a nice salad to go with it. ItEating Linner was fun to watch the families with the little ones jumping around. Several seemed to be with their grandparents—-maybe the parents were working and the grandparents babysitting?

I had been looking DSC04723for barberries to bring home for my new friend/partner, who is a gourmet cook. He had been researching the cuisine and asked me to look for them. I had searched quite a few shops/markets but to no avail. Well, here in Bukhara I found them, and bought a small sample. By the way, those metal design things at the bottom of the picture are stampers with which to make patterns in the bread. There are so many items that one would like to bring home as souvenirs from Uzbekistan, but they would be pretty hard to fit into my backpack, and into my condo too, for that matter—-it’s getting pretty full!

Tuesday morning I had breakfast with a couple who were leaving for Samarkand by train. I got some good information from them about where to buy a ticket and went to pursue that after breakfast. It was quite a long walk, which I’m beginning to mind because of the heat. Even at 8:00 AM, it’s 90 degrees! They didn’t have any thing but ‘business class’ (I wonder what that will be?) which still only cost $14 for a three hour train trip.

Entrance RampI did more sight seeing—-more madrassas, more mosques, and then the ARK. This is a mighty pile that was originally built in the 5th century for Bukhara kings to be crowned in and live in. They used it up until 1920! Inside there is a mosque, living quarters, stables, etc., with many rooms made into little museums. They were busy redoing the RegistPlovan in front of the Ark, which is the big medieval main square where they held the executions.

I had plov (their national dish) for linner again. It has lots of lamb fat on/in it and there’s lamb meat under there, too. The little raisin things are barberries.

I had a nice visit with Sharon and her son, Richard from USA. When Sharon and son, Richardthey came in the restaurant they couldn’t find a table on the water as I couldn’t the other day, so I invited them to sit with me. They have a husband and sister who don’t like to travel so the mother and son go by themselves.

Today I made my final sojourn into this ‘city museum’ of Bukhara. There were more madrassas, mosques, and mausoleums. Additionally I saw thisCrying Mother Monument “Crying Mother Monument,” in Samani Park. I gather she is crying
over loosing her son/husband in war.

This little boy thought it just the right temperature to set up a lemonade stand. Lemonade StandActually I think he’s selling Iced tea.

I met a musician in Samani Park, who had Musicianplayed cello in an orchestra that presented a concert in Santa Fe, NM. He teaches music in an Art and Music school. He invited me over to a nearby building to hear some music, and I bought a CD.

In one of the mausoleums, there was a display of the Aral Sea tragedy. It’s amazing how much of it has now dried up, since 1960.

DSC04861I did peruse the local market, for which I either was too early, or too late, as there wasn’t much going on. I did find someone selling barberries so I bought some more, thinking that what I had bought earlier is not enough to make very much plov.

Leaving the market, were some women pushing a cart with lots of good-looking melons.Returning From Market

And somebody was firing up the bread oven. The ovens all seem to be on carts so they are portable.

Heating the Bread OvenThen being pretty tired and hot, I decided to take a taxi back to my hotel. It’s hard to tell who is going to be a taxi; lots of the time they are just ordinary people being a taxi. So I just hollered “Taxi” a couple of times, and two men responded. No English, but I understood that they were just going to give me a ride to be nice, for no charge! When I said the “Lyabi-Hauz,” (that’s the pool with the three madrassas where people hang out) they took me someplace else—-obviously bad pronunciation. I showed them the name on the map, and then they got it. How nice of them.

Tomorrow I shall take the train to Samarkand. I had always wanted to see that city since reading about it in Mitchner’s “Caravans,” which I read in the ‘50s. I think it will be as exotic as I think it is, having seen some pictures.

Posted in 2016, Uzbekistan | 2 Comments