After a good night's sleep in a nice bed in a hotel room (as opposed to a moving train), we spent our second day in Almaty exploring mostly on foot. We live on something that resembles a compound in Astana, so one of the things we were really looking forward to was being able to just walk around, go into cafes that interested us, and visit parks. Almaty did not disappoint, and our hotel was quite centrally located for walking. Here are some of the highlights we hit:
The former parliament building, from Almaty's days as Kazakhstan's capital:
Women's war memorial. I believe the woman on the left was a sniper, and the woman on the right was a machine gunner during World War II:
Almaty's version of Bayterek Tower:
Zenkov's Cathedral, which was designed in 1904, and is one of few buildings to survive the 1911 earthquake in Almaty. It is made entirely out of wood, even the nails:
A gathering of people and pigeons:
The Central Mosque, which I failed to photograph in its entirety. I had forgotten to bring a scarf, but a woman selling souvenirs in a kiosk outside loaned me a (very sheer) one to wear inside. Interestingly, a woman who looked like a local even went in without any head covering at all.
Gorky Park. There were lots of statues, games, and rides here:
We also had Korean food for lunch that day (yum!). In the late afternoon, we headed to a hotel where a tour office was located to finalize an activity for the next day; a tour to Big Almaty Lake and the Sunkar falcon farm. Because this hotel was far from Gorky Park, where we were at the time, we decided to take a taxi. I think this may have been the scariest taxi ride any of us had had in Kazakhstan up until that point. To make matters worse, the driver was playing really odd music. The lyrics were in English, but they weren't songs I remember ever hearing before (nor are they songs I ever want to hear again). Has anyone else had the misfortune to hear a song that may be called "Shooby Dooby Love"? Ugh. I'm thankful to say that we emerged unscathed and lived to hear other, better songs.
Aside from that particular brush with death, it was a great day. I loved having that day to just wander around, especially since the next day was more structured.