It was 28th of December, 2017. I boarded my flight, of Air Astana, from IGI (Indira Gandhi International) airport. The flight was 3 hr. 50 minutes long. Around 4 (Local Almaty time), my flight started to descend and the city the Almaty became more and more visible. The snow covered cityscape was a delight to the eyes. Here starts my one month long travel of the country.
The Almaty Airport is relatively small and you can see various Soviet era and Russian made jets in front of the mountains landscape of the City. For non Russian speakers here the fun starts. The language of the region is Kazakh and Russian, Russian being the dominant one almost everybody speaks it. Even at airport you are likely to not find one single English speaking staff. Even though signs are posted in all three languages (Kazakh, Russian and English) prefer to learn a little bit of Russian before taking the tour.
It was dark by the time I came out of the airport. Since I had read about it, I walked a little bit outside the airport premise and took a cab for 1300 tenge (around 4 US Dollars) to my Hostel near Abai Square.
Almaty – The city of apples
Since half of my trip I knew I was going to stay in this city. It was the centre point for my whole itinerary. And I plan to learn the city from a local’s perspective
So I checked in the Hostel at around 8 in the evening. The Owner of the hostel ‘Shakir’ of Almaty Hostel Dom is person you surely would want to be your first point of contact. He is Helpful, courteous, professional and a friend indeed. The hostel has a family vibe and if you are a people person this should be your first stop. Since it was late I went out for dinner and tried Shashlik at ‘Shashlychny Dvor’. The place has a nice vibe, the food was decent and price you can’t complain
Travelling the city you will feel a strong soviet vibe. From the metro rail to monuments and hotels a lot of construction is heritage of the past soviet Era. The city is pretty much dotted with soviet architecture and monuments.
Kok Tobe: It is the highest point of the city and from here you can have a awesome view of the city as well as enjoy the ‘Trans lli Altau’ mountain range. It is a nice place where you can get a nice view of the Sunrise/Sunset over the city.
Panfilov Park: It is a memorial park raised in owner of the Panfilov division of World War 2. You will find monument here, raised in owner of them, as well as many other dedicated to the war heroes from this region. The famous wooden “Zenkov’s Cathedral’ is located here as well.
Medeo: I heard of it a lot before my travel so going here was of course on my list. I took a bus from near my hostel for 150 tenge (80 is you have the card). The place is uphill from the City centre. It is basically the foothills of the mountain range and a fun place to explore the mountains. The area is covered with pine and spruce trees with a ravine flowing across the area.
The famous Medeo Ice skating ring is located here as well. It is known as the world’s highest skating ring. I went there with a bunch of local friends, and since it was winter half of them of course had skating in their mind. So we went. The entry ticket is 1800 Tenge and 2000 tenge more for a pair of Skates. During winter the place is jam packed with people and it took us two hours to finally reach the arena. For me, coming from a warm country, everything was an experience. I fell off my feet even before I began to skate so I have to pay another 1000 Tenge to rent a crutch like support that will help me stay on my feet.