This post is going to be very heavy on the pictures, since you can read the history online. Reflecting back on it now as I put this together, I’m absolutely amazed at how much I managed to see in just over six hours!
After a filling lunch, it was off to the next sight, the Gur-Amir or Tamerlane Mausoleum. This was built in the early 1400s and contains the tombs of not only Tamerlane/Timur, but also his sons and grandsons, including Ulug Begh whose observator I’d seen that morning.
A couple photos outside the mausoleum, with and without me and random tourists:
…and a couple of artsy shots inside the complex. I don’t know why, but for some reason Samarkand seemed to really lend itself to getting artsy shots with the iPhone.
When we got in the main mausoleum area, someone was leading a prayer, so it was wait and be respectful time before we could snap any shots. The lighting wasn’t great, but a got a couple decent ones:
…and finally a couple more shots of the outside as we were leaving.
After the Gur-Amir, it was off to our final stop, Registan Square, the centre of ancient Samarkand. There are three large madrassas on the square, one built in the 1400s and the other two in the 1600s. It’s an absolutely stunning site. An overview of the square, again with and without me ruining the shot:
A coupe more shots of the madrassas, both inside and out:
…and finally, again because the Registan was so photogenic, a few attempts at being artsy:
I spent nearly two hours exploring the Registan, and by this time it was nearly 3:30 and time to head back to the train station. In retrospect, I wish I’d brought a bit more cash with me, because there were some really cool tile replicas for sale which would have been awesome to bring home. Oh well, I guess I have an excuse to come back now!
A couple shots outside the train station:
This is where the great shakedown begun. I’m pretty seasoned at spotting travel scams, but my guard had been down from skeezy driver. See, he’d just been paying admission fees, lunches, etc as we went, which I probably should have done in order to make sure I was getting fair prices. On top of the $80 fee we agreed to, he added another $35 for admission charges and lunch, a price I’m pretty sure was at least doubled. I wasn’t in the mood to argue, and had no way to prove it, so gave him $120 and sent him on his way. I’d pretty much had enough. He was a good guide, but the level of scamming just left a bad taste in my mouth.
There was a VIP “lounge” in the train station, but it had no food or drink, just comfy chairs to wait on. Our train left 30 minutes late for some unexplained reason, and the trip back was pretty uneventful. A few pictures from the train:
…and a pic of the delicious “snack” that was served. Actually I don’t know if it was delicious because I only had one bite before determining it was too cold/scary to chance. I did have several cups of the complimentary tea to try and stay awake, however.
Arrived about 30 minutes late, and my driver was waiting for me at the station. Quick drive back to the hotel, dinner, and I was out for the night. I still had one day to explore Tashkent which I’d been told had very little to see, but we’ll see!