Okay, to be honest when I first heard of this country, in Borat some years ago, I thought it was somewhere in the Middle East/towards India. However, about 5 months ago, at my school's annual International Night, I learned it was in Central Asia...I was mind-blown!! It borders Eastern Europe and the Ural River of Russia.
Borat's native land's capital is Astana and the total population is almost at 17 million. The national language is Kazakh and Russian, however in recent years there have more and more native English speakers living and moving to Kazakhstan. In Astana, there are three districts: Almaty District, Yesil District and the Saryarka District. Several tourist must-sees in the country's capital include visits to: The Palace of Peace and Harmony, Baiterek, Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center, the Museum of Modern Art, the Nur-Astana Mosque, Durman Center and the Museum of the Presidential Center of Culture of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
In Astana, the city that looks like it's from the year 2050, go out and explore what the future holds!
1. Relax at the Palace of Peace and Harmony...ommmmm.
2. Explore the City Center/Islamic Center.
3. Save a cowboy and ride a horse at the Tulpar Horse Club.
4. Go in the winter to do some cross country skiing or visit the Ice City.
5. Take an evening stroll along the Ishim River.
6. Relax and breathe easy at the Laelia Spa or the Rixos Royal Spa.
7. Bet big money on the horse races at Altyn Taga.
8. Bring out your inner nature-man/woman at the Burabay National Nature Park.
9. Play in the pools at the Suntana Aquapark.
For the foodies visiting Astana, get your bellies hungry and try:
1. Arablet-- a 24 hour restaurant with great food and Viking decorations...my kind of place, seeing as I am half Danish, therefore, half 'Viking'.
2. Assorti-- a popular chain restaurant in Kazakhstan...so, Americans, think Wendys, Carl's Jr., etc. etc.
3. Arystan Restaurant-- food for the backpackers and students visiting Astana.
4. Astana Nury-- a beautiful river-side restaurant with many different ethnic foods and Kazakh favorites.
5. Chilli Peppers- for you Westerners visiting Astana, this serves an all around favorite: pizza...and for cheap prices.
6. Europe-Asia-- like it sounds, dishes from Europe and Kazakh specialities.
7. Capital Music and Pub Restaurant-- blends both entertainment and food in one.
8. Fusion-- grab a quick bite before partying below at Fashion night club, a popular nightclub in the city.
9. Epoch-- Soviet flags and decor served with wide varieties of bold dishes.
10. Kishlak-- Uzbek foods and decor that changes into a party spot on weekends.
11. La Riviere-- get your fancy clothes on and wallets out, this is one of the city's most expensive restaurants, all inclusive with live piano music and incredible food.
12. Line Hall-- a medieval inspired beer hall that serves 'Kazakhstan's best steak and barbecue sauce'.
13. Samovar- traditional Russian food with a quaint feel, vine draped ceilings and beautifully painted walls.
14. Most Restaurant-- you cook the food but the staff cleans it all up for you...a win-win situation! Almost like The Melting Pot for you Americans reading this.
15. Pivovaroff-- get your drink on with German beer and satisfy those drunchies with traditional German cuisine. Danke!
16. Princess Turandot-- if you are CRAVING Chinese food in this Asian country, satisfy your craving here for authentic Chinese food prepared by Chinese chefs.
17. Vaquero-- tengo hambre! Latin American cuisine makes for the perfect lunch or dinner in the city.
18. TGI Fridays-- yes, there is a Fridays here...are you surprised?
19. Muller-- for European cuisine and beer...who wouldn't miss that when traveling?
20. Tiflis-- looking for delicious Georgian food in Astana? Look no further, this place also does not have a closing time, it's just whenever the last customer leaves. So, if you are having a late-night craving and you are the second to last or even the last person there, no worries, no pressure, take your time.
If you are visiting the more southern region of Kazakhstan, the city of Almaty (borders with Kyrgyzstan is another popular destination for tourists. If you make it here, maybe before going to Kyrgyzstan, be sure to:
1. Make a trip to the beautiful Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake.
2. Take a gander at the Alma-Ata Tower.
3. Enjoy some mountain time at the Kok Tube...let's be mature here people...
4. Grab a snack at the Zelyony Bazaar (also known as the Green Market).
5. Get holy at the Zenkov Cathedral...it's a Russian Orthodox cathedral made only of wood...and no nails, hmm.
6. Walk around Republic Square aimlessly and act like you know exactly where you are going.
7. Take a bath with fellow Kazakhs at the Arasan Baths house.
8. Get holy, yet again, at The Cathedral of the Holy Ascension.
9. Take a ride in a cable car to the tippy top of several surrounding mountains.
10. Snap some background worthy pictures of the snow-capped Tien-Shan Mountains.
11. Skate and bruise your knees at the Medeu Skating Rink.
12. Go back in time by visiting the Abylay Khan statue.
13. Spend a rainy day at the Central State Museum.
14. Take a walk through the park, literally, at Park Panfilov.
15. Grand Canyon? Nah, its the Charyn Canyon here in Kazakhstan.
16. Visit the ceremonial square of Respublika Alanghy.
17. See the mythical bird legend of Kazakhstan, the Bayterek Monument.
18. Grab some lunch or dinner at either Zheti Qazyna, Samovar (Russian cuisine), Kishlak, Printsessa Turandot, Yubileyny, Namaste or Biskvit.
19. Be a hipster at the Kazakhstan Museum of Arts.
20. Drop your jaw at the Kol-Say Lakes.
21. Enjoy a night full of live music at Cuba.
22. Drink the best coffee in all of Almaty at Coffeedelia.
23. Climb some rocks at Kan Tengri.
24. Spend some tenges (Kazakh currency) at TsUM department store-there are smaller boutiques within it).
I hope you won't go hungry when you visit after this list...if you do, you got to give things a try, that's all part of the 'traveling to new places' experience!
The next post will be on: Estonia in Europe!
Travel on wanderlusters!