Charlie's Journey To Uzbekistan
Instrumental in ensuring all the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed when it comes to your travel documentation, we spent some time Charlie, our Holiday Support Executive, to discover all there is to know about Uzbekistan:
Like most first-timers on Just You breaks, I was slightly nervous but well aware that the majority of people on escorted tours make a conscious effort with each other, so those initial nerves soon disappeared once we all met!
What also helped was that somewhere like Uzbekistan attracts a certain type of person, so being quite interested in history and the Silk Route, I was looking forward to meeting people with very similar interests as me.
We visited a traditional Uzbekistan home to learn how plov is made and watched the masters at work. Recipes vary from region to region, but generally it’s a rice dish with a mixture of vegetables and spices, with meat layered on top. It’s a really delicious and light meal, and it’s a national dish so you’ll see it on plenty of menus when you dine out.
The main draw for people visiting Uzbekistan is Rejistan Square (known as sand place) which is packed with some of the most beautiful buildings, but it was Shah-i-Zinda, where we visited afterwards, that was even more phenomenal.
The area is home to an avenue of mausoleums that are vibrant and intricately decorated. As an avid photographer, I was completely enthralled and just couldn’t stop snapping all the ornate details.
But I have to say the Samarkand region as a whole is just one highlight after another, especially if you’re keen on history, poetry and literature by greats such as James Elroy Flecker who wrote the poem ‘The Golden Road to Samarkand’ with such passion and conviction. For me personally, it was even better than seeing the Taj Mahal!
The old walled city of Khiva is home to several minarets and one of them was right outside our hotel, so to have a UNESCO site right on your doorstep was brilliant. And I loved the fact that it wasn’t overcrowded either so you could really enjoy all the sites and the local stalls selling their wares.
I had the opportunity to get out and explore on my own too, and in Khiva, it was quite quirky to see puppet shows parading down the streets.
Puppet shows are popular in the region, and it all stems from the Silk Route and it has long been a popular form of entertainment, featuring classic stories with a satirical twist on current affairs.
It was great to learn about how these puppets are made. It really is a labour of love and takes so much time to mould and craft into these incredible creations that are an important part of daily life.
EXCURSIONS WITH CONTRASTS
I decided to take part in two of the optional excursions. On the first one, most of the group headed off to Shahrisabz, the birthplace of Timur.
It’s a full day excursion and we all headed out through the mountains in smaller vehicles as the coach can’t get through the pass. It was just lovely to experience the contrast of mountain scenes versus the flat lands and urban areas we had seen so far.
When we arrived, many of us thought it was refreshing to see the ruins being just that – ruins. To witness somewhere that’s completely undisturbed and unchanged by nothing but the elements was a wonderful opportunity, and quite a contrast from the likes of Rejistan Square – which while it has been lovingly restored, it doesn’t feel quite as rare or original!
YOUR VERY OWN GUIDEBOOK
Paul, our Holiday Director, was a real fount of knowledge, and his commentary while on the coach and while we were out exploring was fascinating. It was like having a history professor on the tour! Everyone fell completely silent the minute he started talking, and we just revelled in soaking up his enthusiasm for Uzbekistan – it was really infectious.
He brought the story of Uzbekistan to life and it made us excited for what was coming next on tour. It was also a bonus to have some book recommendations from Paul too which I’ve since gone ahead and purchased and I am looking forward to reading those soon and reflecting back on my travels.
You never feel like you’re missing out on anything when you have a Holiday Director with you. They’ll be able to recommend the best places to go for time at leisure or for a group dinner, so it saves you a lot of time on deciding what you’re going to do!
We visited a wonderful rooftop restaurant close to our hotel which offered up stunning views of the minarets proudly lighting up the sky at night. And the food was delicious too, as well as plov, we enjoyed shish kebabs, fresh salads, grilled meats, samosas – we were all well catered for.
I would have loved to have spent more time in all the places we visited as there is such a lot to fit in, but that said, the itinerary is really well crafted so that you’re continually met with those wow moments that seem to top the last place you visited on tour!
I love history – particularly the Silk Route – and generally I like to visit those slightly under-the-radar destinations, so Uzbekistan really was a bit edgier and ticked all the boxes for me.
If I had one recommendation it would be to choose somewhere that appeals to your personality and interests and you’re virtually guaranteed a memorable adventure.
Let us take you there
Uzbekistan and the Silk Route
Follow in the footsteps of ancient traders and uncover the amazing architecture of Uzbekistan's cities and enjoy unique cultural experiences
11 days from£3,249
- Return flights
- 9 nights in 3 star hotels
- 19 meals: 10 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 8 dinners