When I got into this part of the trip, I realized there are a ton of pics and details from this day, so I’ll be splitting my daytrip to Samarkand into two parts. This is part one, covering the train to Samarkand, a morning of touring, and lunch. I was lucky to have a day off from work this weekend, and wanted to make the most of it!
Had to get up super early this morning, because I’d been booked on the 7am train from Tashkent to Samarkand. I had hoped to be on the 8am so I could at least get a little sleep, but unfortunately there was confusion, and my driver picked me up at 6am to go to the train station, leaving me operating only about 5 hours of sleep. And no breakfast. And no caffeine. Well, actually a little caffeine…I’d found a bottle of water the night before, but it was sparkling so I used the gross in-room water kettle to boil some up and make a little instant coffee that was in the room. Better than nothing!
The drive to the train station was only about 10 minutes, and security was tight. There were at least three security checkpoints to get into the station checking tickets and passport, but by the time I got it they were already letting people onto the train. I’d booked the new-ish highspeed train, which made the trip in just a little over two hours, traveling in excess of 200 kph! There were three classes on the train – regular economy, first class, and “VIP class.” The price difference really wasn’t that much, so I booked the VIP! I was too curious not too!
A few shots of the seats:
One thing that became clear quickly. There were carriage numbers printed on the tickets, but no seat numbers. It was first come, first served, with the attendants trying to sit groups somewhat together. It all worked out on the trip down, but the trip back was a hot mess!
I won’t talk too much about the train trip, since I got many more details on the return when I was more awake. There was a food and drink cart, and it had Red Bull, so that helped to wake me up a little bit. I really should have had a second one…and just like that, a little after 9am we pulled into Samarkand station.
I’d debated if I wanted to hire a guide/car before arriving, and in the end, I’m glad I did . The sights were a bit spread out, and I got a good amount of history. Plus, a car and guide for an 8 hour day for $80 (or so I thought) was pretty reasonable. He was waiting for me at the station with a sign with my name on it, and we were off. He asked what I wanted to see….and I said all the historic sights. Isn’t that what people come here for? “No club? No sexy lady?” Uh no, and yes, I had to spend several hours getting grilled about girlfriends…him cracking jokes about “only 3 kids, that I know of, I have girlfriends in many countries.” It was irritating, but I tuned it out more or less.
After convincing him I really wanted to see all the typical boring historic sights, we were off. The first stop was the Ulugh Beg Observatory. It was built in the 1420s in order to determine the midday point. The most annoying part of this site were the two giant tourbusses full of Korean tourists. No idea why they seem to come to Uzbekistan in such large numbers, but they apparently do.
Anyways, back to the Observatory. A picture of the outside:
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