Wednesday 1st March

Today we indulged in some train spotting when we went to Temir Yo’l Texnikasi Muzeyi or Railway Museum. Here we found a good collection of steam, diesel and electric locomotives dating from the 1930s to 1970s. Where the cab door was open one could climb on board. There were small locomotives for shunting and some real giants that would have hauled freight and passenger trains across Russia,. In some cases this would have been at least a 7 day journey and locomotives were either changed or refuelled on such journeys. Consequently there were lots of locomotives and fortunately some of them are preserved here.

Later we experienced the sights of Tashkent from an open topped tour bus which gave us time to walk around some of the principal sights. Tashkent is a big and sprawling city and a 2 1/2 hour tour by bus helps one appreciate the parts that make the whole city. One of the highlights of the tour was the Khast Imom, the official religious centre of the Republic and thought to be one of the best places to see Old Tashkent. The giant Hazroti Imom Friday Mosque is flanked by two 54m minarets and is a brilliant white recent construction of 2007. There were good views of administrative buildings, the high-tec area and the 375m TV tower which can be seen from all over town and has the ubiquitous revolving restaurant near the top. We also passed the city’s most famous farmer’s market topped by a giant green dome. Some of the guidebooks made it appear to be relatively small. The reality is it is an enormous area like an out of town retail park but full of stalls and traders selling from carpets on the floor. It seems that if it grows and is edible then one can find it at the Chorsu Bazaar.

We ended our day of exploration by having dinner at the top of the Hotel Uzbekistan. The chicken and lamb chops with local Uzbekistan red wine were delicious but certainly enhanced, in the view of one member of the party!, by background music supplied by the Spice Girls whilst overlooking the Spice Route!!!


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