All aboard the SHARQ train from Samarkand to our next stop on the Silk Road – Bukhara.The SHARQ train is a bit like a big living room on wheels. It has a carpet, tables, TVs showing an Uzbek film, and a boiler if you want to make your own tea.
All aboard the SHARQ train
There are also special hooks where you could hang your coat, but as it’s rather hot here now, no one has a coat, so they hang their bread up on them instead. The seats are armchair comfy.
Going on the rails
We arrived at the Rumi hostel which, although unremarkable from the outside, was very friendly and welcoming on the inside. An airy courtyard where breakfast is eaten and residents socialise, leads through to a small reception and then the hostel itself with a surprisingly large number of homely, comfortable rooms.
A warm reception from Niloofar
So much cheaper and more personal than a chain hotel, the bnbs in Uzbekistan have been a really nice surprise. The people here are so friendly and helpful, that it is a really good choice of accommodation, and very good value too.
Run by Bekhruz Sadulaeu and his family, his mum Khurshida is a real mother hen to everyone, and Bek and his sister Niloofar both speak good English.
Khurshida and Guljamol at the Rumi
Cosy clean rooms, air con, Wifi and plenty to eat, in fact sometimes too much to eat, is the order of the stay. It’s great for meeting up with other travellers and sharing tips and tales too, and Bek can sort out trips and taxis to anywhere if you need him to.
Plenty of Rumi here!
Bukhara is a like a living museum in a city with about 140 architectural monuments and is the fifth largest city in Uzbekistan. Bukhara has been inhabited for at least five millenia and the city has existed for at least half that time. An important city on the Silk Road, Bukhara has long served as a centre of trade, learning, culture and religion.
Char Minor as the sun goes down
The city is filled with ancient monuments and it seemed also to be filled with workman building new ones! Bukhara seems to be expanding and the city has numerous colourful bazaars where souvenirs can be haggled for. Carpets pottery, beautiful cotton and silk clothing, bags, jewellery and excellent fridge magnets to name but a few options. Everything here is pretty cheap too – it can give India a good run for its money.
Awed by the Ark
It was very hot when we were there in August, although apparently it had been even hotter in July when the temperature had topped forty degrees and so we decided to look for a swimming pool to cool ourselves down a bit. We were advised to try the Atlantis Water Park, which had been an old soviet facility and consequently looked somewhat austere and concretey from the outside.
Inside, it was still a bit soviet, but had been completely refurbished and had a huge indoor and outdoor pool, lovely and clean and almost empty of people. So, for a few pounds only, you could have a dip in a great big swimming pool pretty much all by yourself! An ideal pass time in the 35 degree heat. We also had a massage which was not quite like the massages I have at home. The lady who gave the massage spoke no English and set about taking off her top and then taking my body to task. I was stretched, pummelled, bent in half, pressed in the eyes and had my hair pulled in a rather vigorous manner. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, and later on I found it it was actually a ‘medical massage.’ Wellness is all.
Garlic tomatoes and beetroot salad – yum
There are lots of places to eat in Bukhara and we had a variety of meals from the hazardous (make sure your kebab is cooked through) to the delicious. They do wonderful salads and butternut squash dumplings and we were extremely partial to the garlic plum tomatoes at the Chinar restaurant.
Bukhara by night
It is definitely worth spending a few days in Bukhara as there is a lot to see here. The historical sites and museums are considerable, as are the retail opportunities. We were happy to spend four of our precious days in this charming city and enjoy the hospitality at the Rumi hostel at the same time!