You can’t exit through the gift shop if the whole place is a gift shop- Registan

We arrived in Samarkand about lunch time today and found our hotel. There’s no good signage and it was a little tough to find, but just like everyone else we’ve encountered in Uzbekistan all the neighbors are friendly and they were happy to show us where to go. It’s in prime real estate right by the Registan. The place seems to be brand new. All the other rooms on our floor are under construction.

I desperately needed a shower and the kid looked as if she was about to fall over dead of exhaustion so we took the afternoon slowly. I took my shower and told her to sleep. When the husband and I were both about to fall asleep ourselves we forced ourselves to get up and face the day. By now it was almost 3PM.

We went to find some food. the place the hotel owner recommended didn’t look too impressive from the outside. It looked like a fast food joint and we were disappointed he had judged us as Americans and assumed that’s what we liked/wanted but we were tired, we’ve been on the road, he suggested it, so we gave in and went in to eat. We’re happy we did. It was actually really good.

It wasn’t a fast food restaurant. It was a family restaurant. The husband had lamb that was cooked perfectly tender with potatoes, I had hamburger meat stuffed with cheese, and the kid had a noodle soup. When we ordered we weren’t all too sure of what we were ordering so it was a surprise.

We looked over and the table next to us had some tasty looking fried chicken wings and we couldn’t resist. There was a bit of an ordering confusion but eventually we got through to our server we wanted some. I tried using google translate and it wasn’t working. That’s when I realized he didn’t speak Russian. He had gotten our order before because we pointed at pictures. This time we speaking and it wasn’t working and we just thought he wasn’t understanding our crap Russian so we typed it out but he still wasn’t understanding us. It’s okay. We eventually made it clear what we wanted and we got our wings. And they were good! They had sesame seeds! They add a nice flavor.

After lunch we began walking toward the Registan, the old public square of Samarkand, the capital of the Timurid Empire from 1370-1405. It consists of three old madrassas which have been converted into a string of souvenir shops. The buildings are stunningly beautiful. The artwork is intricate and this was the place I have been the most excited about seeing in Uzbekistan.

It was a little depressing to see it’s being used for nothing more than souvenir shops but I guess that’s what keeps the money coming in. It felt very similar to walking around the plaza in Santa Fe. The big difference here was the vendors were very respectful, just like everyone else in the country has been. No one harassed us, no one begged us to come in their shop, people offered once, or even said nothing at all, and then let us keep walking by. I appreciated it. I’d like to write a letter to the Uzbek board of tourism. I wonder if such a thing exists.

We stayed a long time because as the sun was moving the lighting was changing and I was getting better and better photos. Eventually I knew my family would give up on me or get angry with me soon if I didn’t say let’s go. We checked Google Maps for a nearby cafe, found it, but it was packed with people, and we’re trying to be conscious of covid, so we decided to no eat there. By then, we were so close to our hotel we decided to just come back and eat some snacks we already had in the car. We had a big lunch anyway.

Tomorrow we’ll see some museums, an old observatory, and some other cool stuff before sleeping one more night here and moving on to our next place.

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