Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Almaty (Kazachstan)

Since July 2012 for many citizens of foreign countries it is not necessary any more to apply for a visa for Kyrgyzstan. You get a stamp in your passport at arrival and you are allowed to stay there up to 60 days.
We arrived at the end of November 2012 so it was time to leave Kyrgyzstan. We wanted to visit our friend Robert. He is from Germany, works for the only German newspaper in Central Asia and lives with his family in Almaty. It was the the former capital, now it is Astana.

We already have been in Kazachstan, but this was from Aktau through the desert to Uzbekistan.
Now we have the possibility to know more about this big country with so many ressources in gaz, oil and rare earth elements. This city is a very modern one and totally different to our past experiences.

On Friday 18th, after Astrid's Russian lessons, we went to our most favourite cafe, the 
Sierra Coffee Bishkek, which is run by two guys from New Zealand. After a delicious meal we went by taxi to the border, which is only 25 km away.

When we left the taxi, many men tried to take our bags and wanted to bring to their taxis, expecting that we give them the order to bring us across the border. Well, after nine months of travelling we are not unexperienced tourist anymore and with a loud "NJET" we took our bags and crossed the border.

At the immigration office for KAZ we had to fill in the form for registration, knowing that we need not register ourselves within five days. Some of you may remember, that we had big problems in Aktau with the immigration police.

After entering Kazachstan we looked for a possibility to travel to Almaty. It is 220 km far away and we noticed that it would have been better to take a small bus directly from Bishkek. Well, after half an hour we got a shared taxi and after two more checkpoints from the local police and three hours later we arrived at Robert's apartement.  We had a funny conversation and we went to sleep quite early because the last weeks were very stressful.
The next day, Saturday, Robert joined us to a big supermarket, the "Ramstore" . I do not know the origin of this name, perhaps it was founded by the German Band "Rammstein" ;-), because there are so many European goods, and even wheatbeer from the wellknow German breweris "Erdinger" and "Oettinger" and Pilsner from "Bitburger".  beer-heaven !!!! there also exists a indoor-ice-rink.

We went by taxi to the Ascension Cathedral, one of the oldest wooden churches on the world and it survived some heavy earthquakes. 

Close to the cathedral there is a spring and up to onehundred people filled their bottels. Seemed to be a holy water.

After visiting this place we walked to the St. Nichols Cathedral. On our way we noticed many international shops and companies. A big problem is the smog in Almaty and the icy sidewalks.
 I had again soil contact with my hip. Ouch !

We entered a bus and tried to pay, but we had no coins. Suddenly a woman talked to us in German: Ich schaue mal nach.... . So funny, she is from Almaty and a teacher for German language. She organized some coins and explained us the right way to the next cathedral . She had been several times in Vienna and Klosterneuburg. What a small world !

The kind of construction of the St.Nichols Cathedral is very different to the Ascencion Cathedral. During the Soviet era there was inside a museum for atheism.

We finished sight-seeing, went back to Robert and again he offered us some delicious food. We went to the local busstation and took a small bus back to Bishkek.
We met Mesut from Almaty, on a businesstrip to Bishkek. He works at the KazKom, the biggest bank in Kazachstan and he became a good friend during our trip. He invited us to his wedding in August, where 500 guests will celebrate this party. Well, it would be very interesting but we estimate, that it would be not possible . But things are changing so fast.....  

modern buildings

Construction all over Almaty

Smog in Almaty

Robert and Gerd

Ramstore, a very big supermarket

KFC, a fast food chain from the USA

water spring at the Ascension Cathedral

St.Nichols Cathedral

Ascension Cathedral

bus station

Robert and Astrid

Bus from Mercedes Benz, on the way back to Bishkek

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