Guess where JK and I have been for the last week. You will never guess so I’ll tell you…Kazakhstan, yes you heard me right, Kazakhstan! I don’t know what I was expecting really (land of funny hats, strange cheese, donkeys and stomach turning menus… well its all of that and some). I guess its not a place that would be top of your wish list, but having been there I can tell you that its really worth a visit because in reality its a place of stunning architecture, theatres, art galleries, museums and parks. It is rich in history and legend and its people are warm and welcoming.
The first thing that catches your eye when you fly into Almaty is the huge snow capped mountain peaks that tower over the City. We stayed at the Rixos Hotel near the centre of town (lovely by night as it changes colour) and since our flight arrived at 3am we caught a few hours shut eye before our busy schedule began.We had hired a driver for the duration of our stay and I am so glad that we did, as we discovered that the main method of public transport is bus and trolley bus. Taxis are few and far between and many car drivers will just act as a taxi if you are brave enough to stick your thumb out. We began a whirlwind of client visits which took us all over the City.
Our conscierge helpfully suggested a restaurant just a few minutes walk from the hotel who she said were renowned for their traditional Kazakh cuisine, and being game to try the local dishes we duly found ourselves in a fabulously lively eaterie with colourful dancers in traditional dress and music that made you want to get up and dance. We were tempted to try the ‘Bas-karyn’ described on the menu as ‘mutton cooked in lambs stomach and served with a lambs head (for 3 persons), thank god there were only 2 of us! I can also recommend a restaurant called Barbarista, also walking distance of the Rixos. Fab food, cosy decor and intimate atmosphere, a great place to relax at the end of a busy day.
The week flew by and we decided on Friday evening to take the cable car up to the top of the Koktobe mountain and look back at the City lights. It was a warm evening and we set off on the 15 minute ride. As we stepped off the cable car I could hear music thumping out, so naturally JK and I followed the music. As we rounded the corner both of us were completely taken aback to see hundreds of young people dancing to disco music right on the edge of the mountain with a backdrop of the lights of Almaty by night. Absolutely stunning and a memory that will last with me always.
I was sorry to leave Almaty, the people made us feel so very welcome. But with more and more clients booking private jets with our Russian speaking aviation consultants, I am sure it will not be too long before we return 🙂