I have often found myself in awe of the photos of Uzbekistan and wondered if the real thing would be just as wonderful as it is captured in publications. I cannot wait to find out for myself!
Our starting point is Taskent, so much more than an entry point to highlights yet to come. I was pleasantly surprised, the city is a wonderful introduction, and a nice balance between the old and new. Amongst beautiful madrassahs and mosques lies the oldest known Koran, so unassuming that there was not a single other tourist in sight! The original home of Islams most sacred relic is Smarkand our next port of call.
On arriving in Smarkand we are blown away by Registan square! The three main madressas that make up the square are quite a sight, the detail in the tile work and the beautiful colours are admired by the group, and I image what it would be like in its hay day with hustle and bustle of this thriving city. The local Uzbek community are gathered in their Sunday best, I am desperate to take a photo but do not want to offend, when I am approached by a group of young Uzbek girls who want me to join them in their photo! Surely surrounded by such architectural gems, I cannot be seen as an attraction! This it seems is not a one off and we are invited into a lot of photos during the visit, (one of which I am dressed up in the local dress by a group of young Uzbek men!) can you imagine how many mantel pieces in Uzbekistan us and our cheesy grins will find ourselves on!
Next stop Bukhara, I had a good feel for this place from the start, slightly less colourful and grand as Smarkand, but none the less beautiful or impressive. The local community are the most welcoming of any I have come across, and all dress in their traditional attire; so vibrant and colourful, this place certainly feels untainted by mass tourism. The architecture is really quite unique and made up of shapes made up in geometrical lines, a real work of art.