Day Before Yesterday. Or thereabouts. In Almaty.
A nice day has been had by all. Lace and Scott did some exploring in a Lacily-organized fashion and I did some wandering in my usual semi-lost fashion. The weather is early-fall wonderful, it’s a laid-back feeling city, and I find most things Russian interesting (in spite of the buddyhood of Donnie and Vladie) so it was a relaxing few hours. When I return I intend for one of my posts to steal highlights from a few books (including Lonely Planet) to do the simplest of overviews of the four Stans we are visiting; it’s a history and a present beyond just interesting…it is epic and wild and glamorous and bloody. And of course Kazakhstan isn’t Russia but the influence is so strong and does tend to grab one’s attention.
Dear Diary…this is what I did so far today. Left the hotel about 9am or so and, following hotel map and front desk staff directions, headed for the recommended shopping/strolling/coffee street. Not such a long walk so only had to ask directions a few times. I know I must get my smart phone/mapping skills up to speed…well actually I do not because my daily travel interactions mostly come about from my constant search for where I am, where I’m going, and how to get back to where I came from…a lot like the rest of my life actually. The most helpful and positive assistance usually comes from men. Young men whom I remind of their grandmothers and older men who see my camera and map in hand and me looking distinctly puzzled, and gallantly come to the rescue. They are quite sweet and satisfying these friendly little exchanges.
Girls and women not so interactive. Are girls not as grandmother-friendly? (Lace? Patrica? Sara?) Or are women just naturally more suspicious, even of other women? Hmmm…to ponder. One elegant older lady speaking a language I did not recognize stopped and asked me for directions…which made me happy. When I like cities it feels like an honor to be considered a local even by another lost foreigner.
Let’s see…had a water at Starbucks, purchased two nice and inexpensive casual shirts at a pleasant shop, walked through a big green beautiful park, and made it home for a short nap before our evening borscht.
THE BORSCHT ALBUM
As I proclaim ad nauseam, borscht is my favorite X favorite food. No idea why. Mom made Harvard Beets when I was a kid, a sort of sweet sour veggie dish that I think only mom and I enjoyed. But a whole big red soup? Never occurred to me I would love it although I should have known I’d never stray too far from my peasant roots…Russian, Norwegian, doesn’t seem to matter.
Thanks to Lonely Planet, also known as Scott’s Holy Bible, we dined at Gosti. Perfect way to spend a golden-glowing September evening in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The fat platter was slick and … fatty. Spread some lard on bread, sprinkle of salt, slash of sweet horse radish. Yes. Next light and bright and tangy borscht creamed with the smoothest of white and sour, dumplings oozing from their rich meaty insides, and all finished with a fruity cottage cheese pancake. My best food hour of the entire trip.