Monday, July 6, 2009

The long trip here....

With an extra full day in Montreal and an overnight stopover in London, our itinerary wasn't exactly the quickest, but the six days we were enroute between Saskatoon and Almaty and total five flights made for a VERY long trip. We got here a little weary, but we got here!

On the way, we had a blast visiting with friends in Montreal on Canada day - thanks to everyone who made it out, it was great to do one last breakfast/supper before leaving the country! Then we spent about a day in London, and soon learned we love early morning tourism. Both suffering from some definite jet lag, we didn't see much of the sights, but we went to Buckingham Palace the evening we got there and weren't too impressed - too many people, only crappy pictures, not too much to do. But it was the closest thing to our hotel, so when we both woke up at 4:30 the next morning we took a walk there and liked having it all to ourselves much better!

From In Almaty

We eventually arrived in Almaty on Sunday morning at about 5:30 am Kazakhstan time. Our bikes got there in relatively good shape (just a couple slightly bent fenders) though it took alot of duct tape in between flights to get them here.

From In Almaty

We were then picked up at the airport by the cab we called ahead for, and we were VERY THANKFUL that we followed the Lonely Planet's advice and actually did arrange for it ahead of time. So far, we haven't been hassled at all by people selling us or wanting to "help us" excessively, EXCEPT at the airport. There, before they'd even give us our bikes from overside luggage, they asked us for some cash. We played dumb and they gave us our bikes in about two minutes, but there were about four or five airport guys in uniforms following us, trying to help us push our cart, load the boxes, etc. It looked for awhile that we weren't about to get out of there without at least 10 hands to help us with our boxes that we had got the whole way here on our own, but we managed to get them to give up eventually. It would have been the exact same thing with the cab, as about 42 different vendors offered us their services (many of which we've heard some sketchy stuff about), except that ours was already waiting, got us both in the same car with all our stuff and got us out of the airport and to our hotel in record time at exactly the price we were told by the hotel.

Anyway, now we're here, safe and sound. Almaty is beautiful, with a bit of the Tian Shan mountain range bordering the south end of the city, lots of greenery and minarets and steeples from various churches and mosques in the backround. We love it so far, and have managed to find our way around the amazing street bazaar, thousands of cell phone vendors and delicious little food kiosks just fine. We plan to leave tomorrow for Kapashguay, a beachy resort-area about 70km north of Almaty where all the wealthy folk from Almaty (and there are lots, judging by the cars they're driving) have their summer houses. We will post again as soon as we can! In the meantime, here's the view from our hotel room balcony.... not bad, huh?

From In Almaty

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, it looks fantastic. It reminds me of the view from the 9th floor in Dorval! Glad to hear you guys arrived. Although the Buckingham palace and Kazakh beach resort doesn't exactly jive with the expedition I had in mind...