Worrall Travel R's

Worrall Travel R's
Roz and Russ

Worrall Travel R's - Kicking the Bucket List

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We are the Worrall Travel R's Roz and Russ Worrall. Our goal before we "kick the bucket" is to see as much of the world as we are able, learn about world cultures, experience making friends around the world, and share goodwill and what we learn with others. WE HOPE YOU JOIN US VIA THE BLOG ON OUR TRAVELS.

We started our world travels in 1969 in VW camper van in the USA, Canada, and Europe, but didn't actively blog about our travels until 2009 aboard our sailing vessel SV Worrall Wind, a 44 ft Nauticat Ketch.  On September 5, 2009 we left San Francisco and took a left at the Golden Gate to Explore the World.

From to Sea to Land
After almost 4 years of cruising Mexico and the South Pacific, we sold our beloved boat in Australia, 2013. The Worrall Travel R's are continuing our travels around by many other means of conveyance -boats,trains, planes, sometimes camels, elephants, rickshaws, and hot air balloons.. 

Russ is a retired engineer, optometrist, professor from U.C. Berkeley. Roz is a retired computer programmer/analyst, educator, (teacher, administrator, professional developer). 

Our Mantra:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
~ Mark Twain

Monday, June 30, 2014

Days 19 -20, Samarakand via Shakrisabz, birthplace of Tamerlane

Sunday, June 29, Day 19

Today, we spent most of the day driving to Samarkand, stopping for a couple of hours in Shakrisabaz, birthplace of Amir Temur, Temur had a palace built here at his birth home. in the late 1300's. The once grand gates supported a swimming pool on top.

Temur has a mausoleum prepared for his death here, but died in Kazakhstan in the summer time. He was buried and placed in a Mausoleum in Samarkand. His palace was destroyed by a later ruler and only the sides of the great palace gate remain today. We arrived late in the afternoon in Samarkand and once we were settled in our hotel within a stone's throw of Temur's Mausoleum, we took a sunset stroll of the town.

Monday, June 30, Day 20

Our Itinerary today: We enjoy a full and fascinating two days as we discover the Registan (Central Asia's most splendid architectural ensemble), the Bibi Khanym Mosque and beyond the city; Ulug Bek's Observatory and the Shah-i-Zinda Mausoleum.

We have seen so many beautiful buildings, domes, madrasahs, museums, necropolis, and mausoleums, my head is spinning. Samarkand is a jewel of antiquity beautifully restored after being destroyed by conquering invaders and strong earthquakes that toppled arches, buildings, minarets. Minarets (Minars - means fire)) actually predate Islam and were used as watch towers and light houses with fires on top for Silk Road and desert travelers to find their way at night.

Most of the Minarets are flat on top today lacking the original top parts of the structure for earthquake safety. The Madrasahs we saw today, formerly Islamic Seminaries, are used for handcrafts. We bought more souvenirs than we anticipated, silk scarves, boxes, doll, ornament, and beautiful small red wool carpet from Afghanistan. We are having the carpet shipped. We plan to do some more shipping of stuff home either from Moscow or Helsinki. Our bags grow heavier every day.

We leave in the morning for Tashkent where we spend one night before boarding the train for Kazakhstan and Russia.

All is Well with the Worrall Travel Rs

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Day 17-18, Beautiful Bukhara

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Day 17, June 27 - Exploring Bukhara

We think our air conditioning in our room is not working too well, but when we step outside at 2;00 pm and meet our guide Dehlia, we realize that when the outside is 113 -145 degrees F outside, the inside air is pretty cool.  Holy Bukhara, it's hot!

We pile into the van and our driver takes us a mile or so away from our hotel, then we get out and start to walk back to our hotel  along the actual Silk Road

through ancient Bukara where we visit Mosques,

museums, madrases (Islamic seminaries), mausoleums, forts, Turkish Hammoms (bathhouses), and bazaars.

Over the centuries, Genghis Kahn and the Soviets have destroyed great portions of the old buildings, most of which have been repaired and restored so that one senses the antiquity and wonder of the legendary Silk Road.

We walk slowly in the parching heat just as the merchants and camels did 1500 years ago, although the camels were undoubtedly more efficient.

During the Soviet period, the craftsmanship of thousands of years was almost lost as no one could independently produce handmade goods.  After the collapse of the USSR, the Uzbeks were encouraged by their government to reclaim their traditions and handcrafts with tax free incentives to make and sell their goods.

Bukhara is filled with artists hammering designs on brass plates, shaping and glazing ceramics, knotting silk rugs, sewing pelts into hats, embroidering wall coverings , jackets, and clothing.  One of Silk Road travelers has a birthday today.

We have a sunset celebration on a rooftop restaurant, and we enjoy an evening meal outdoors where it seems comfortable and cooler at 90 degrees.

Day 18, June 28 - A Free Day! First day of Ramadan.

We sleep in, Yes!  But then decide to eat breakfast and get outside and do some exploring before it gets too hot.  Ha!  Nice thought, but no, it's over 100 degrees  by 9;;30.  We set out for the bazaars to buy a few souvenirs and gifts.  We have to think small because our bags already seemed stuffed.  Today is the first day of a month long Ramadan.  Muslims will fast from sunrise to sunset starting today for a month.  That means no food or water while the sun is up.  Really, no water?  Yep!

We return to the hotel a couple of hours later where we cool down, so to speak, and enjoy a lazy day relaxing until we re-emerge on the streets at 6;30 to attend a dinner and cultural show.

 It didn't even occur to any of us that the event would be outdoors, so the only negative of the evening was being in an absolutely beautiful courtyard of an old madrases where there was not a breeze to be found and the bricked floors even though they were now in the shade had soaked in enough heat and sun to be a pizza oven.  Sweat pored down our faces, backs, fronts and thighs, as we truly enjoyed the meal and the performances.  Russ and I have had more water than we have ever drunk and it comes out just as fast as we can drink it.

We watch the fully dressed performers, looking amazingly cool, and wondering if they are fasting and not drinking any water as they perform? Our local guide Dehlia is a Muslim.  She looks forward to Ramadan as a way to drop a few kilos.

We leave by van tomorrow at 8;00 am.  Our itinerary:

Our drive into the Zerafshan Range provides us with magnificent views as we travel to Shakrisabz, birthplace of Tamerlane, and where the ruined entrance towers of his Ak-Serai Palace still stand. Shakrisabz is a pretty market town with winding mud lanes of traditional homes and a relaxed atmosphere among its many mosques and teahouses. This afternoon we arrive in Samarkand
All is well with the Worrall Travel Rs

Friday, June 27, 2014

Day16 - Into Uzbekistan

We are at the breakfast table at 5:45 am and the airport at 7:00' through two sets of X-ray screenings and security checks, passport checkout, by 7:30.
We know what to expect, but it is always exhausting. And we are not through yet. We will need to clear Uzbek customs which could be rigorous. We will see. I carry and have declared prescription medications with the understanding that it may be easier not to declare but it would be just my luck not to declare and be inspected, so I am honest.

Our plane ride is expected to be short (1 hour +), and we will board in a couple of minutes.

We arrived in Tashkent and changed our time an hour ahead, so essentially, we arrived the same
time we left. It is our understanding that we flew into Uzbekistan because it is easier to arrive by air than across the land border for tourists. Russ and I already had our Visas but Aussies can get it upon arrival. While our fellow travelers were completing these formalities, we passed through immigration and customs. Russ went through customs easily as he had not declared any of the prescription medications he was carrying. He turned left an walked toward the door. I on the other hand, was told to do go to the right. I wasn't sure what, he told me (I suspected it was a luggage search), but after the second or third time of motioning and me looking confused and pointing the other direction at Russ, he shrugged his shoulders and waved me through. I hate luggage searches just on principle, but got out of this one.

 Uzbekistan is a sociailst democratic republic with both a president, prime minister, two chamber parliament, and Supreme Court. 83-85 % of the country is Muslim, but because religion was banned for so many years under the Soviets, Islam is practiced with less fervence as in other countries. Women here traditionally are used to wearing head wear out of Uzbek tradition, but many women wear nothing on their heads.

Match making tradition and ritual pre-wedding traditions lead up to the wedding itself. Families in this country, save money all of their lives, particularly if they have sons, for a multi-day wedding party. The grooms family pay for the wedding festivities that customarily have 2-300 guests. The brides family pays for nice clothing for the couple and are responsible for providing three rooms of furniture and household goods to get the couple started. The eldest son and his new wife live with the groom's family until the second son is to be wed, then the first son and wife find a place of their own. This continues until the youngest son is wed. He and his bride will live with parents and care for them until they die.

Upon our arrival we converted $300 US dollars to soms, 780,000! We are almost millionnaires. We have stacks of bills and need another bag just to carry them around. Their biggest note is 500. Cost of living is very inexpensive. A huge three course lunch in a nice restaurant cost us about $8.00 each.

The day is very hot, easily 100 degrees F. Our Uzbek guide Tanya takes us all around the city and does her best to keep us in the shade, but it's a blister and summer doesn't really start for another couple of weeks.

Somebody needs some lessons.

 What a contrast between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Post Soviet times for the basically nomadic people of Kyrgyzstan has been harsh economically, with revolutions against the government about every five years. Rich in beauty and tradition, Kyrgyzstan is not faring well economically and the buildings and infrastructure are in decline.

Uzbekistan on the other hand has a strong agricultural economic base, and has flourished with same president since Soviet times.

 The parks,




public transportation (street cars and subways) are first world. Their toilets while plentiful still need some work.

By 6:00 we finish our city tour and cleanup at the hotel (we will actually be staying in upon our return in one week), in the lobby restroom. Then we head for the train station for an overnight ride to Bukhara. The train is Soviet style (basically not as nice as the Chinese trains smooth electric), and the air conditioning was negligible. The rail system is clckety-clack and diesel.

We spend a horrible night on the train, much like sleeping in a sauna. Russ and I barely slept and woke with dehydration headaches.

Day 17 - Bukhara

We checked into our hotel at 8:00 am, and have been holed up in our air conditioned room, re-organizing our stuff, doing laundry, and napping.

 We will leave at 2:00 ( less than an hour from now) for a walking tour of the city. Will tell you more about Bukhara in the next post.

All is Well with the Worrall Travel Rs In Bukhara