Today was a sightseeing day in Samarkand. Having seen some beautiful mosaic work yesterday, the mosaics continued today. Visited the Ulugh Beg Observatory. All that remains of the observatory is the sextant arc underground and there is now a museum on the sight. What an amazing astronomer who died at the age of 55. What he would have done if he had lived to a normal old age!


IMG_2300Fascinating museum. Then we visited Daniels tomb. This is not his final resting place but a memorial for him as he is buried in Iran. Having been renovated it is a lovely sight.

The Shak-i-Zindah is a street like complex of mausoleums. The tiling here is beautiful and every tomb is decorated in some way with the traditional blue tiles.

IMG_2372IMG_2375IMG_2376IMG_2398Bibi Khanum mosque was named after Temur’s first wife. This is partially in ruins but it can be seen how beautiful it would have been in its day.

The bazaar was worth a visit. Lunch was found and it was interesting viewing the stalls although not as large or as exciting as Bishtek.

One of the interesting aspects of the day was the acquiring of fuel for the cars. We had been told in the  morning that Samarkand had NO fuel and our guide would work on it. Late afternoon fuel was found and similar to exchanging money on the black market, this fuel was also back market. At a price at least 25 % more than retail we drove our cars to a yard where the garage had a small fuel truck. We managed to refuel all our cars and also fill jerry cans which would hopefully be adequate to get us all to the Turmenistan border in 3 days time. An interesting exercise!IMG_2482


Posted in Vulcan on Tour

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Wine and more architecture

Wine and More Wine – OleBilbao OLD and NEW Monday dawned sunny and warm and we headed down to the Guggenheim Museum, even though it is closed we wanted to relish the slick titanium skin, contrasted against the smooth pale limestone blocks. Everything glistened in the bright morning sun, reflections of the curved surfaces bounced off the water surrounding the metal walls and the metallic sculptures in the forecourts around the Guggenheim. Did you know that every surface in the building is curved and there are no straight lines thus emphasising the organic flowing lines of this magnificent Frank Gehry masterpiece Tomorrow we’ll visit this amazing museum along with our Silk Road companions Pat and David who we are travelling with around Spain and Portugal in our trusty MGs. Hop on and off buses have always been a favourite and quick way of acquainting ourselves with a city. We cruised around the narrow streets enjoying the views from the top deck. We were diverted by police a few times into the back streets because of a rally of thousands of people marching along the main thoroughfare of the city. Red, white and Green flags and banners waving, fire crackers exploding, releasing clouds of smoke. How We hopped off a The Mercado de la Ribera one of the largest fresh food markets in Europe and we arrived just in time for some Pintxos which we enjoyed with a beer and Sangria. So many delicious sweet and savoury munchies to choose from – what a treat!

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